Social Media and Spiritual Happiness

Over 10 years ago in 2013 there were 1.0 billion Facebook accounts worldwide, and of those, 552 million are daily active users. That number has now grown in 2024 to 3.05 billion Facebook accounts and 2.085 billion daily active users! About 68% of U.S. adults report using Facebook.

A study done by the Pew Research Center back in 2013 stated that over 69% of American adults were using social networking sites. Today, about 94.2% of internet users have social media identities as of 2024!

YouTube has around 2.49 billion monthly active users. Approximately 83% of U.S. adults report ever using YouTube.

Instagram has approximately 2 billion monthly active users. Roughly 47% of U.S. adults say they use Instagram.

When I first wrote this article in 2013, social media was just taking off, and back then it was Facebook and Twitter being most popular. Though I think Instagram has taken over from Twitter. X/Twitter has over 665 million monthly active users, 1/4th that of Instagram. Back in 2013 there was a lot of buzz around how social media is just a fad and it will go away, but I was inclined to disagree.

Globally, the number of social media users grew from 4.72 billion in January 2023 to 5.04 billion in January 2024, accounting for an 8% growth of approximately 320 million users year-over-year.

What I wrote in 2013, the same holds today and there is a big reason why…

It's in our genes and it makes us happy.  It can also help us spiritually. No, really! It can.

What makes humans a successful species isn't our opposable thumb, it's the fact that we are social creatures. If Darwin had his say, the human species has been successful in winning the population race because of our opposable thumbs and being able to make tools. In Sociobiological terms, if we just had our hands and our tools, each of us alone could not build the gargantuan cities, technology and global infrastructure we have today by ourselves. We need each other. Sociobiology sees us as successful because we are social creatures.

When we talk, plan, communicate, and work together, we can then take over the world; and in fact, we have. Each of us as a single animal, so to speak, pitted against another animals our size, or even smaller, such as a dog, are quite weak by comparison. We need clothes to survive the cold, we have no fangs, no claws and we all think twice about eating meat that is raw. Yet, humans literally move mountains. All because we talk and boy do we love to talk to each other.

Dan Gilbert, a Harvard researcher in Psychology, who wrote about happiness in a best selling book, “Stumbling on Happiness,” states that from his research, “We know that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationships and the amount of time that people spend with family and friends.” Not only are we genetically and biologically programmed for social interaction we receive great happiness from it.

Now we can scroll on Instagram and update our Facebook statuses to the point it becomes addictive. “Oh, I have to get off Facebook”, “I have to stop looking at Instagram,” “It's such a big time waster.” But we can't. Some of us check our Facebook or Instagram before we've even had our first cup of coffee in the morning, or even as we are driving to work. Watch out on that one, there are laws against texting and driving. With a few strokes of the keyboard, we are talking to hundreds if not thousands of people instantly. What could be better than that?

Is face to face better? You might think that technology is isolating us and keeping us apart, but studies show that it’s actually the opposite. A study done by Pew Internet & American Life Project found that people who use technology have social advantages. The technology helps people stay in touch and share more information that allows them to stay socially active and connected to their social communities. They found that these people have larger and more diverse networks of people than those that don’t use technology. Plus they are more engaged in their social groups. That’s because it’s easy. Now with your smart phone, you can be in touch with your social group any where at any time. Maybe it’s better than being there, you can bring your friends with you virtually where ever you go. There’s some comfort in that. The comfort of being supported by and engaged with others.

Part of our over all happiness lies in our expansion spiritually and that leads to spiritual happiness. Our spiritual happiness is based in our service to others, our sharing our experiences and helping each other through our engagement with people. Social media networking just allows us to reach more people more easily. Then we expand our ability to energetically touch others through our words and even pictures.

So is social media a fad? Probably not, it's just an evolution that started with writing letters where the Postal Service would deliver in the rain, snow, or dead of night.  With technology social networking evolved to the telephone, then fax, email, cell phone and instant messaging person to person, and then to social media messenger and feeds updating to thousands of our friends and followers in an instant.

Social media helps networking communication bigger, faster, better, stronger. Pictures, instant videos, chatting and texting all make it easier to share our lives with those we care about. Or it helps us find new friends to share with. It brings us closer together. It's the next best thing to telepathy. We no longer need to wait to get home and write about our adventures, we can now share them in real time, instantly. Just sharing our selves so easily seems to bring us virtually together, as if we are in the same place.

With that, we can touch each other in a more human way, a way that brings us closer to loving one another, even if it's just to say, “Hey there, I am with you.”

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