The Happiness Effect


The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost
Author: Donna Freitas
368 Pages in Kindle

Expected Publication Date: February 1, 2017
Dates Read: June 12-26, 2016

My Rating: 5 Stars


Book Summary from Amazon:

Sexting. Cyberbullying. Narcissism. Social media has become the dominant force in young people’s lives, and each day seems to bring another shocking tale of private pictures getting into the wrong hands, or a lament that young people feel compelled to share their each and every thought with the entire world. Have smartphones and social media created a generation of self-obsessed egomaniacs?

Absolutely not, Donna Freitas argues in this provocative book. And, she says, these alarmist fears are drawing attention away from the real issues that young adults are facing.

Drawing on a large-scale survey and interviews with students on thirteen college campuses, Freitas finds that what young people are overwhelmingly concerned with–what they really want to talk about–is happiness. They face enormous pressure to look perfect online–not just happy, but blissful, ecstatic, and fabulously successful. Unable to achieve this impossible standard, they are anxious about letting the less-than-perfect parts of themselves become public. Far from wanting to share everything, they are brutally selective when it comes to curating their personal profiles, and worry obsessively that they might unwittingly post something that could come back to haunt them later in life. Through candid conversations with young people from diverse backgrounds, Freitas reveals how even the most well-adjusted individuals can be stricken by self-doubt when they compare their experiences with the vast collective utopia that they see online. And sometimes, as on anonymous platforms like Yik Yak, what they see instead is a depressing cesspool of racism and misogyny. Yet young people are also extremely attached to their smartphones and apps, which sometimes bring them great pleasure. It is very much a love-hate relationship.

While much of the public’s attention has been focused on headline-grabbing stories, the everyday struggles and joys of young people have remained under the radar. Freitas brings their feelings to the fore, in the words of young people themselves. The Happiness Effect is an eye-opening window into their first-hand experiences of social media and its impact on them.


My review:

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Yik Yak, and ChatRoulette… (The last two I have never heard of until this book)…. There are so many social media tools out there and it can be overwhelming. And it is overwhelming for Millennials and younger.

Donna Freitas interviews various college students all over the country to get their opinions on social media. Reading what they thought in their own words was something! I learned so much while reading The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost. I realized how much I didn’t know was out there. That was a wake up call for me. I told my husband if we have children one day that he will have to stay up to date on all the social media tools that are out there. (He knew about the social media tools that I did not know about. He is much more familiar with all of that than I).

I found it hard to comprehend how much Millennials think about social media: What to post, who can see what they post (They make groups so they can decide what that group will or won’t see!), how many friends do I have and does so and so have more?. The number of friends is apparently very important too. And most importantly: Never post anything that could be considered bad or negative; that looks bad on your “online image”. You MUST appear happy. That was hard to believe how they feel everything has to be happy even if you aren’t. It was hard to comprehend what how much some think before they post. “If it won’t get a like then I won’t post it!”, Or if they post it and don’t get likes, they remove it! Some spend hours thinking about what they will post!! And they won’t post controversial as they could be looked upon as negative and they can’t have that.

I also found it interesting that college students in fraternities/sororites are monitored and if a post is/ or appears possibly negative for that fraternity/sorority, they will be forced to remove it.

Even before they are in college they think about what they post in case a college admissions person looks at their social media, which could affect their future enrollment. And college students are careful to what they post so they aren’t affected by future employment. (I do this myself- I also do not list where I work on my social media).

Also interesting was how often Millennials think about getting rid of social media- for a short amount of time or longer. Some can’t even put their phones down for two minutes, they have to constantly check their social media for that ever important post. It was interesting to learn how they feel that they must be available 24-7.

Granted, not every Millennial is like this. There are some Millennials that do not use social media at all. They are the minority.

As I read this book, it got me thinking about how I use social media, specifically Facebook. I hope to not use it as much in the future.

This was a good read and again, I learned so much. I recommend everyone to read The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost. It could be an eye opening read.

****I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.