We’ve all groaned while scrolling through our newsfeeds before (that sonogram you’re about to post is called an ‘overshare’). But now, research warns that those same Facebook status updates could be affecting your mood more than you think, even going as far to ruin your day.
We’re not just talking about your ex-boyfriend sharing that his new girlfriend is, “beautiful and amazing”—cause that definitely stings.
Researchers at Cornell, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Facebook suggests that emotions expressed online are influencing the mood of others, spreading to ‘infect’ individuals with either their positive or negative impact.
I’m not. The rate at which we use Facebook and other social media networks that keep others updated on our lives around the clock today is alarming, and quite frankly, unhealthy.
With Facebook, I stay updated on a girl from high school’s life incessantly because she shares intimate details about her life literally every day. Do I want to? Not particularly—I haven’t spoken to her in years. But the posts keep coming.
According to these researchers, though this girl has no real or valid influence on my life, her rapid-fire updates could be affecting my mood.
By reducing the amount of either positive or negative stories appearing in 689,003 randomly selected Facebook users, researchers found that what they call ‘emotional contagion’ effect worked both ways.
Seeing positive posts boosted people’s moods, while negative posts had the opposite effect. Users who saw a positive post almost immediately sounded happier in their own status updates, while those exposed to negativity revealed being ‘fed up’ in their own.
According to Jeff Hancock, professor of communication at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and co-director of its Social Media Lab, these mood boosts aren’t strictly staying on Facebook.
“Online messages influence our experience of emotions, which may affect a variety of offline behaviors.”
What does this all mean?
Next time you want to post about how horrible and long and repulsive the line you’re standing in is, or how extremely sad A Fault in Our Stars was, think again. You could be offsetting a community of negative thinkers.
In a larger sense, maybe it’s time to limit our posts as a whole. Ask yourself, ‘Does the whole world really need to know this?’ before sharing.
‘What’s on your mind?’ is a rhetorical question, anyway.
(Image via Shutterstock)