Social media provides little bursts of happiness as we get likes on a new post, but it quickly fades, which is why we keep posting. Just one more hit of augmented-happiness until the likes stop coming.
Our time spent online can also be accompanied with a sense of missing out or jealousy of the filtered view on our friends’ exciting lives. We don’t see a lot of real life on social; the disagreements with family, bad days at the office, struggling to carry the groceries and a squirming toddler, stubbed toes, or when we’re feeling fat after a big meal.
Everyone is at their peak, with beautifully curated outfits, cool backdrops to imply they must never actually do any work to payroll these adventures, and cute side-glances to something interesting off camera to show their best side.
It’s pretty easy to come away from a session of scrolling through news feeds to feel like you’re just not measuring up. Relax, that’s normal. Social media has created a level of aspiration that both fuels our need for doing something, with feelings that we’re not enough if we don’t.
However, there are uses for social media, smartphone apps, and technology that can actually bring us great happiness, as long as it’s tied to an accomplishment.
It’s the accomplishment part of using any tool that is super important for feelings of happiness. Achievement feels like resolution, progress, and bettering yourself. Pick your tools carefully – pro-tip: The most effective tools don’t have anything to do with sharing it to your Facebook feed, selfies, or driving 2 hours to look away in a field of flowers.
Recently I’ve been trying to learn my niece’s ukulele. It’s small, pink, and needs to be tuned every 15 minutes, but it’s really fun and I’ve actually been making progress.
For this, I’ve been using the Yousician app which has video tutorials and play-along songs for piano, bass, guitar and even my little pink ukulele.
It comes with a free trial and then is about $14 per month (CAD $) to get more lessons. When my daughter is a little older, I’d love to be able to learn an instrument while she does, and I think this would be a great way to do it on a schedule that suits us.
Another great way to gain the sense of achievement that we’re so desperate for, whether we know it or not, is from reaching a fitness goal. Going to the gym can get repetitive and boring, so eventually people tend to stop going.
I want to improve my fitness so that I can keep healthy and continue to run around after my active toddler, especially as she learns new sports and wants to get out and about to look for dogs to say hi to.
I’ve tried a few and I really like the Nike trainer app, and JEFIT. They both have personal training sessions and can target different body parts and routines to fit your goals. As the apps are a conduit to my goals, I’ll give them the credit of actually bringing me some happiness.
When I asked a few other Dad bloggers, they talked about advancements that have given us the ability to grow and reach further than we could have before.
Stacey Robinsmith of A Dad In The Burbs, wrote: “The WordPress app on my iPad or iPhone was a game changer for me. Made it so that while I was waiting for kids I could be more productive rather than “just” a consumer of information.”
While Stephen Fung said, “My smartphone has access to more computing power than the entire US government of the 80s. And with it, I am my own broadcast media outlet without launching a satellite or buying a printing press. I can document. I can create. I can help myself & help others with it. I have answers to any question with it with the power of my voice. And when you add access to a fully realised Quantum based Internet in a few years, we will all be even more connected.”
For the kids, there’s plenty of toys that are fun, amusing, and some are even educational. But do they make the child happy? While this may be subject to debate, I think yes.
I think for kids, the sense of achievement is more easily attained.
“You threw a ball? That’s awesome! Hooray!“, from this, the child feels pride and is encouraged to keep doing it.
There are an almost infinite number of apps that provide options for learning in a fun way. While I don’t love giving my daughter the iPad unless absolutely necessary, I know that touchscreens are going to be a part of everyday life, so she might as well be well versed.
Right now we’re all about the ABCs and learning to count. There are a few great apps by Sesame Street, which combine lessons with recognisable characters. I also try and pick app-makers that I’ve heard of, or have lots of positive reviews to ensure the quality and trustworthiness.
Ultimately, we can’t rely too heavily on apps, tech, gadgets or gizmos to provide our happiness. It’s something we have to create opportunities for, and give to others. Going outside, accomplishing something like a new sport mastered, a goal scored, some seeds planted, or something built with your own hands. Technology is here to help us and can be a tool to teach, but it’s the accomplishment that we push ourselves to achieve that really bring happiness.
This article was featured in Episode 5 of the SocialDad Podcast. Listen, Subscribe free – right here: