Donna Freitas, The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
Freitas is a sociologist who previously wrote a book on the hookup culture among college students. The more she researched college students, the more she realized how social media is sucking happiness out of them.
Her book shows how college students feel “the duty to appear happy” on social media—“even if you are severely depressed and lonely” (p. 15). Students fear that they might post something on social media such as Facebook or Twitter that will derail future job opportunities. They feel like they must craft, cultivate, and curate their own happy “marketing campaign for me” (pp. 76–81).
What most surprised me in Freitas’s book is that people now often choose what to do based on what pictures they could take that would result in the most “likes” on Facebook! One student Freitas interviewed explained, “People used to do things and then post them, and the approval you gained from whatever you were putting out there was a byproduct of the actual activity. Now the anticipated approval is what’s driving the behavior or the activity …” (p. 4).
I think the underlying issue here is that God created us in his image and that the only thing that will ultimately satisfy us is God himself. Anything less will leave us unsatisfied and unhappy.
- Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters (New York: Dutton, 2009). Cf. my review.
- John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 4th ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2011). Cf. my thoughts on the book.
- “The Supremacy of Christ”—a video I referred to last week with reference to pornography but that applies here as well: