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Facebook: The Happiest Place on Earth?

Facebook: The Happiest Place on Earth? image facebook happiest place on earth

OK, OK, so I read this report this week that a guy up the road from me killed his neighbor because his daughter was un-friended on Facebook. And then this story is buzzing around about the guy who shot his daughter’s computer and posted it on YouTube because she whined about doing her chores in a status update. Sure … there is just a little bit of anger that can show up on the interwebs!

But despite this weirdness and angst, the data would suggest that people who frequent social networks are a pretty happy bunch. I recently had a post that showed the emotional boost from Facebook was similar to something you would get by being married!

Now, a new study from Pew Research shows that the overall social and emotional climate of social networking sites (SNS) is a very positive. Adult users get personal rewards and satisfactions at far higher levels than when they encounter anti-social people or have ill consequences from their encounters. A nationally representative phone survey of American adults finds that:

  • 85% of SNS-using adults say that their experience on the sites is that people are mostly kind, compared with 5% who say people they observe on the sites are mostly unkind and another 5% who say their answer depends on the situation.
  • 68% of SNS users said they had an experience that made them feel good about themselves.
  • 61% had experiences that made them feel closer to another person. (Many said they had both experiences.)
  • 39% of SNS-using adults say they frequently see acts of generosity by other SNS users and another 36% say they sometimes see others behaving generously and helpfully. By comparison, 18% of SNS-using adults say they see helpful behavior “only once in a while” and 5% say they never see generosity exhibited by others on social networking sites.

At the same time, notable proportions of SNS users do witness bad behavior on those sites and nearly a third have experienced some negative outcomes from their experiences on social networking sites. Some 49% of SNS-using adults said they have seen mean or cruel behavior displayed by others at least occasionally.

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Does this match your experience? Do you “get your happy on” when you go to Facebook?

Mark Schaefer is an educator and marketing consultant specializing in social media workshops. He blogs at {grow} and is the author of several best-selling marketing books including Return On Influence.

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