Hacking Happiness

Hacking Happiness

How Social Media Can Enhance Well-Being

By Jonah Paquette

July/August 2017

There’s no mistaking the fact that we live in a world in which our relationship with our digital devices is growing ever closer and more personal. Most of us take our smartphones to bed, and two-thirds of us report feeling nervous without them. A recent Stanford study found tween girls spend nearly seven hours a day on social media but only about two hours in face-to-face contact. Nearly 80 percent of us take our work-related devices on vacation, and every few years, researchers publish new statistics about the climbing rates of people who even check their phones during sex.

By now we’re so attached to our digital gadgets, websites, and apps that it’s easy to lose sight of a fundamental question: aside from the immediate rewards they provide, are they really making us happier?

If you’ve ever reconnected with an old friend through the internet, downloaded a favorite song, or researched in a few minutes a question that might otherwise have taken hours, you can attest to the emotional payoffs of technology. At the same time, if you’ve ever felt bogged down by emails, overloaded by a constant stream of info and grim news from around the world, or painfully inadequate comparing your life to the enviable, curated images flooding your social media feeds, you know the perils of our relationship with technology. You may even be familiar with complaints like “Facebook depression,” “smartphone addiction,” and “phubbing” (the act of snubbing one’s real-life companion in…

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