Facebook, Twitter and small talk may make you unhappy

Apparently, talking about the end of the world could make you happier than talking about the weather. In fact talking in depth about any topic as opposed to merely getting by with small talk can make you a happier and more satisfied person. This is according to a study conducted by Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona and reported in The New York Times magazine.

“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world,” Dr. Mehl said. “And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.”

Which brings me to my rather un-productive habit of updating my Facebook and Twitter status on a almost constant basis. And I find myself attaching the state of my happiness for the day, on how many of my friends actually react to any of my status postings.

But the happiest person in the study, based on self-reports about satisfaction with life and other happiness measures as well as reports from people who knew the subject, had twice as many substantive conversations, and only one-third of the amount of small talk as the unhappiest, Dr. Mehl said. Almost every other conversation the happiest person had – 45.9 percent of the day’s conversations – were substantive, while only 21.8 percent of the unhappiest person’s conversations were substantive.

Small talk made up only 10 percent of the happiest person’s conversations, while it made up almost three times as much — or 28.3 percent — of the unhappiest person’s conversations.

Unfortunately, on Facebook or Twitter there is minimal if not no small talk at all. What more to say, substantive conversations. And maybe to a certain degree, SMS has stop us from being really happy because it takes away that need to have a real conversation with someone and replaced it with short burst of smilies and “hehe haha.”

There is nothing wrong with the technology. It has done wonders in bringing together friends who have lost contact with each other. The problems rest with the form of contact itself. Does merely reading status updates constitute a conversation now? Or are we really missing the point with tech such as Facebook and Twitter?

So, rather then simply texting people or leaving my status online. I’ll call them. It’s more meaningful to hear a friend’s voice and to know we are conversing the way humans beings were made to converse.

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One Response to Facebook, Twitter and small talk may make you unhappy

  1. Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya

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