There are a number of articles out, including one in GlobeAndMail.com, about this study that shows that Happiness is contagious. A key section of the Globe’s article said that the study,
“…(u)sing a standard measure of well-being, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale…found that when an individual becomes happy, a friend who lives nearby experiences a 25-per-cent increased chance of becoming happy. And the more centrally located you are in your social cluster of happy people, the more likely you are to become happy.”
You might think, “well, it might have been a small scale, rinky-dink study”. However,
“(t)he research, being published today in the British Medical Journal, is the latest analysis of data gleaned from the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal U.S. survey begun in 1948. The researchers, who have previously published similar findings on the spread of obesity and smoking from the data, focused on 4,739 individuals over 20 years, accounting for 50,000 social and family ties.”
Now what has this to do with Web 2.0? Well it could be that social networks supported by social platforms like Facebook, twitter, and flickr, can support the propagation of happiness (or other feelings). I know when I see pictures of family and friends happy, it makes me happy. And when I hear that they are having a difficult time, it adversely affects me. Perhaps not as strongly as it would if I were there in person, but what social networks lack in quality (i.e., directness) they can make up for in quantity (i.e., I am more aware of more of the feelings of family and friends potentially).
It remains to be seen if this is actually happening generally with people. But I am conscious of what I say when I use social platforms, knowing that people are reading what I write and many times responding to it. It affects how people think, not just about you, but how they think about life in generally. Not that you have to try and make people happy with what you say, but knowing that you might be able to is something to seriously consider.
As for me, I am happy you took the time to read this and think about it! I hope your day is a happy one.
(A most excellent photo of “Mel C” courtesy of *SMILING PUG*’s photostream on flickr)