Has life treated you unfairly? Do you have a nagging suspicion that other people, are, on balance, happier than you are? You might want to get off of Facebook.
A newly published study suggests the phenomenally popular social networking site may be skewing the way users perceive their lives. It finds those carefully selected photos of cheerful, contented people cumulatively convey a self-esteem-shattering message: Our lives are fantastic! What’s wrong with you?
Just a few months ago, they were reporting from the other side of those pearly whites:
College freshmen whose Facebook profile pictures featured intense smiles were more likely to feel satisfied with their lives 3½ years later.
You can learn all sorts of information by perusing a person’s Facebook page. But newly published research suggests you can ascertain a key fact about that individual – how satisfied they are with their life – without reading a word. Just check out their profile picture, and gauge the intensity of their smile.
The lesson here is clear. No matter how banal or useless the subject, there are evidently people out there who will throw bundles of money at you to publish a study on it as long as you connect it to social media in some perfunctory way. Help me brainstorm here; there’s gotta be a way we can get in on this before the shininess wears off.