Do contagions of Happiness course through social media? Do you find yourself passing on the uplift? If so, what form does it take? Good news? Hero stories? Bird formation videos? Or garden variety Comedy Central clips?
According to a 2008 study published in the British Medical Journal, (see link below) Happiness, like smoking, weight gain and weight loss, is catch-able. Researchers Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD of Harvard Medical School and James H. Fowler, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, conclude that having a large hub of friends equates to higher levels of happiness, and that this influence extends beyond our immediate circle of BFFs.
Scientific American online had this take:
A happy person within a social circle quickly influences those around him or her to be happy, extending to three degrees of separation.
Aha! So that’s why everyone collects Friends and Followers? To pursue the inalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence, “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness”?
Happiness, like optimism, is apparently more influential than sadness or pessimism. So we are neurologically wired for elation infections? Joy epidemics? What does this mean for effective social media messaging?
In this fascinating recent TedTalks, Tali Sharot discusses the ways our brains have been wired for the bright side, and how this affects our decision-making and world view.
On the sharing side of social media, do those who pass on comedy, uplifting quotes, and how-to solutions simply have more friends? Is that why some pass on nature-awe videos like Murmuration, “A chance encounter and shared moment with one of natures greatest and most fleeting phenomena”?:
while others prefer a Double Rainbow?
Is promoting the positive a key to social media success? How do we define positivity for the internetworks, when changemaking and innovation often means naming problems, exposing broken pieces of outmoded systems, and shedding light on the shadow side of humanity? How can creativity spin these important stories toward share-ability?
“Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study” British Medical Journal Published online 2008 December 4
“Happiness is contagious: study” Reuters, December 5, 2008
“Happiness is contagious in Social Networks” CNN, Elizabeth Landau, December 5, 2008.
“Happiness Is Contagious” Scientific American online (podcast) by Adam Hinterthuer, December 5, 2008.
“RIP Meme: The Double Rainbow Guy Sells Out to Microsoft” Mashable, Brenna Ehrlich, September 2, 2010.