Psychological studies have proven that journaling even a single positive thought per 24 hours helps raise self esteem and happiness levels. Psychologist Shawn Achor gives a brilliant lecture on the topic.
Part of my job as a social media editor is to stay on top of current and emerging trends, so when I saw increasing numbers of friends and followers begin to participate in this #100HappyDays, along with swathes from the wider world of the web, I thought it could only be a good thing.
If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s more positive thinking. Turn on the news and you’re greeted with a lurid cacophony of depressing and faith-culling stories; disaster, death, corruption and human rights violation are now so commonplace we’ve practically been immunised to them.
But as the 2009 film Surrogates so brilliantly illustrates, human vanity is a powerful force. Like the unwanted guest at a party, Vanity will worm her way in and integrate herself, sometimes so subtly, that you’re not even sure how it happened, or exactly how she killed Good Intentions and hid the carcass in the bathroom with no one noticing.
From what I’ve seen, all good intent from #100HappyDays has been lost. Almost none of the posts I have seen pertain to helping anyone, learning something new, making any effort to increase happiness in the world or even channel some basic positivity.
No, essentially it is yet another mass media exercise in “don’t you wish you were me??” This wouldn’t be half so objectionable, people have used social media to subtly-as-a-scarecrow brag about themselves from the outset, if it were not being thinly veiled as something which was actually intended to do good.
As someone who works full time in social media management, moreover, it holds a deeper interest. It marks precisely the reason why people are abandoning Facebook in droves. And Facebook, I will admit, is where it seems to be most prevalent. Not only is Facebook’s look and aesthetic fast becoming outdated and dull, it’s sheer numbers are it’s only saving grace when it comes to using it for business. In all other aspects it is roundly thrashed by the likes of Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Kids nowadays are more interested in creating their Instagrams and Vines than they are about their Facebook profile.
Studies today are littered with the negative effects of Facebook, which ranks highest on social media sites which cause or increase depression. And faux-positive trends like #100HappyDays are precisely the reason why. They are a way for users to flaunt their achievements (or more usually “achievements”) and their “social lives” often for no other reason than to try and incite envy in the people who will see their post.
Not that I mean to compose this piece as some sort of martyrdom, I am as guilty as anyone else when it comes to the social media brag. We’ve all done it, and that’s not going to change.
But it is sad to see the fragile innocence of something like #100HappyDays, quite possibly started with the best of intent, fall prey to the shallowness and vanity of social media users. Whereas my Facebook feed could have been filled with tales of support, affirmation in the human capacity to do good, it is now a hideous line of baby cuckoos demanding attention.
Here is what they’re really saying:
Had the most wonderful date last night #100HppyDays = “Haha! You’re all single and lonely and I’m not. Suck on it, bitches.”
Check it out! Feeling great after yoga class #100HappyDays = “I’m making you feel like a bunch of lazy slobs and it’s making me feel great.”
As I said, I subscribe to the psychological intention behind the original intent of #100HappyDays. Each evening I scribble something positive that happened in the last 24 hours in a corner of my work diary.
Is it working and makng me happier? Well, stay tuned and we’ll see.
#100HappyDays certainly is not.