Why Do People Fake Happiness on Social Media

Published: Updated: 4 mins read
fake happiness on social media

A picture-perfect life does not exist, but a perfect picture does and anyone can take one.

How often have you seen “happy-looking” photos by persons on Instagram having the “perfect and joyful” life we all dream about? Too many, I know.

Fake happiness is a term used to describe when someone posts content on social media sites that do not represent their true feelings. The idea is that the person’s happiness may be fake or superficial because they try to make others feel better about themselves.

There’s no need to hide your real-life unhappiness on social media. Social media is only one aspect of your life.

Difference between real life and social media life

Have you ever opened an old photo album? You have probably noticed that it is full of happy moments from birthdays, trips, and the like. Looking at the photos you may think that life is perfect because they capture only the happy moments.

But we know that this is not always the case.

In modern times these albums have been digitized and are available to anyone who owns a mobile phone and the internet.

You can easily fool yourself into thinking someone looks perfect or lives a perfect life by only looking at photos of happy moments.

Real life is not always as easy as it appears on social media. People are more serious about social media, which can lead to judgemental attitudes. Social media websites are a place where people can feel validated by the likes and shares they get.

There are some differences between real life and online life. The most significant difference is that real life is less forgiving of mistakes due to being judged. In contrast, in social media, people are more likely to give you another chance because of the anonymity of the internet.

You will never know what you will find on social media without scrolling through it first. It’s an endless pit of entertainment and information with no end in sight.

And this is why many of us use social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., to share our daily activities with friends and family members.

It is crucial to distinguish the difference between real friends and social media friends

How does social media negatively impact people? (Fake happy people)

Social media has become one of the essential parts of modern society. We all have at least one account for each social media platform we use: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, Reddit…the list goes on!

The problem arises when these social platforms start influencing how we live our lives. For example, if someone wants to lose weight or gain muscle mass, they may post pictures of eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.  Online sharing of successes became a necessity for people, otherwise, they felt as if their lives had been wasted and that they were excluded from the ‘success-sharing’ community. 

In addition, heavy social media usage creates envy and low self-esteem, which is related to the experience of not being able to bear not getting what they want. They often fall into something called a comparison trap.

Comparison traps occur when users view other users’ photos where excessive fake happiness is showcased, then compare themselves to them, thus making them feel less worthy and unhappy.

This, on the other hand, can cause serious mental health and life issues for the person. It’s proven that obsessive social media usage and increased interaction with technology is resulting in anxiety, decreased self-confidence, and depression. The state of depression can also lead to other dangerous activities like alcohol and drug abuse.

We often forget what truly matters in life and how real people function and try to look fabulous on social platforms. We are looking up to celebrities, famous influencers and we want to mirror that online identity, to make us an “ideal” online person.

This is the fastest medium in the last 100 years and instead of using it for positive purposes, it took an opposite direction for people, especially teenagers.

Why do people fake happiness on social media

Why do we need social approval? It seems that the popularity here is shedding a positive light on our mood. We enjoy receiving positive feedback of any kind, especially publicly and online.

Of course, social media users will enjoy a temporary boost in happiness when the likes, shares, or positive comments on social media posts are increasing. People even began buying fake followers to imitate popularity and increase engagement on their profiles. But is this actual happiness? 

Because of the heavy social media usage, we are surrounded 24/7 by the content placed by social media influencers. The person behind that profile is sharing pictures of their luxury cars, meals with friends, fit body, and somehow this is stored in our subconscious.

The next thing we know, we want a photo with that same car, although we cannot afford it, a picture in that “socially” approved invitation-only place, and we are ashamed that our body is not ideally fit.

We want to be a part of that group of people with “perfect lives” shared on social media. And more importantly, we need to be admired by others.

But does faking happiness on social media really help? No. The perfectly captured picture and the number of likes will not make our lives better. People are trying to hide their weaknesses behind happy photos, luxury items, and traveling. The saddest thing is that they’re spending most of their time on that trip, choosing and editing images for social media. No significant memories, only full photo albums.

In a few words, these are the reasons why people fake happiness on social media:

  • Afraid of being a failure
  • Desperation for more likes
  • FOMO – Fear of missing out
  • Insecure about their partners and friends
  • Falling into a comparison trap
  • Needing approval and validation from others
selfie, smartphone, social media

It is okay not to share every good moment on social media

We forgot that social media is not a competition and it’s not mandatory to share every experience, vacation, meal, or life event to be placed for public approval measured through likes.

True happiness does not depend on any social network. Truly happy people don’t share every good moment on social media, and they don’t feel the need of being accepted by the majority.

But on the bright side, in the past year, even social media influencers have joined the positive movements of normalizing the energy and posting habits on these platforms.

We can see new trending hashtags like #BodyPositivity#SocialMediaIsFake#AntiBulling, etc., supported by the most powerful social media celebrities.

The ‘Instagram vs. reality‘ trend was one of the most powerful movements on the platform. Influencers who we admire posted pictures of their natural bodies without filters, editing, or perfect lighting.

It was one of the more positive trends adopted because it encouraged young girls to love themselves and not hurt their self-esteem by comparing themselves to seemingly perfect bodies.

Hopefully, this positive trend will continue and human well-being will improve. 

In the meantime spend less time focusing on perfectly shaped bodies, global trends, and Influencers who make their living off of social media and materialism.

Focus on yourself, your goals, real-life experiences, and social life outside the Internet. It takes a lifetime to figure out who you are and what you want, so don’t distract yourself with unnecessary toxicity caused by social media.  

Today, social media and technology are important for society; however, when used mindfully they can only ease the way we function.

BONUS: Check this list of 33 cheap and productive things to do instead of social media.

Spend your time elsewhere

You can reduce your screen time and spend more time in-person interactions with your friends and family. You can start to train this habit by setting a daily limit for application use or leaving your phone at home when you go out with your friends.

Instead of taking a million photos from your meal, you can enjoy your meal and be present in the conversation. You can always see the content shared by your favorite influencer later. But you cannot return the missed moments with your closest.

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