How Social Networks Spoil Your Mood

Comparison is the thief of joy. This sparkling truth from former US President Theodore Roosevelt is relevant even now. One can even say it is more important than ever!

facebook, just as everyone else, wants to find the answer to the question why we constantly compare ourselves with others.

Psychologist Leon Festinger was engaged in solving the dilemma of the whole mankind back in the 1950-s. He found out that comparison made us feel on the peak of success or crash down from a cliff with disappointment. The social environment constantly forces us to look at others and think how one should live, where one should go on vacation, and how much one should train to get ideal abdominal muscles. But somehow we always forget that it is important to be ourselves rather than a copy of the ideal invented by society. Seriously, we do not want to be “just like everyone else”, do we?

The desire to compare grows catastrophically along with the development of social networks. With every minute of watching the news on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, the genius of soul-searching awakens in us. After all, someone is now basking in the Canary Islands or is sailing in a snow-white yacht in the turquoise waters of the ocean, while we sit in the office or are busy with household chores. It seems that the whole world is living and having fun while we are quietly standing aside. But this assumption is likely to be wrong. Someone may be looking at our life in social networks with the same admiration we have when we picture the life of our “right” and “perfect” friends and acquaintances.


Here’s an example of how we are influenced by social networks. The girl was not invited to dance. She stayed at home alone. The next day, her Facebook was full of the photos from that party. Viewing them spoiled her mood completely, and her self-esteem dwindled down to nothing. All these smiling faces of her fashionable girlfriends dancing all night long with their cool guys make the girl feel unattractive. Nobody told her that someone’s face was stained with mascara and that someone was dancing too badly. And the party was not as perfect as she pictured. Social networks are built on a play of our imagination. And it’s great, but the only question is how this will affect our inner world.

Social psychologists have conducted a study among 300 American students. For 14 days in a row, they were providing reports which were used to judge how much time they spent in social networks and if they had any symptoms of depression manifested in those moments.

The results were as follows: the participants (of both sexes) who spent more time on Facebook showed higher rates of depression, which was exacerbated because of the constant social comparison.


It’s very sad, but we cannot control the process of comparison, it is happening on an unconscious level. This problem is further aggravated by the fact that people in social networks only show their positive side: they embellish their stories, and the photos are filtered. Then their news feed becomes so attractive that it is simply eye-catching.

But we forget that this is just a picture, just a few frames of a supposedly perfect life. The fact that our news feed is not full of photos from resorts and selfies in the gym does not mean that we are boring people who have absolutely nothing to tell others. We should keep something for ourselves rather than display our life to dozens of people who are not our best friends. Be true to yourself and remember that you’re probably better in something. What could be cooler?

Of course, we are not saying that Facebook, Twitter or Instagram are evil and are not worth being visited. But if your mood is getting worse and worse after watching all those happy couples, exotic travelling, cute babies and innocent girls and guys, then you always have the option to shut down the computer and go for a walk. After all, as Remarque once said, it does not matter what happens – do not take it close to your heart. Few things in the world can be important for a long time.

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