According to new research, there’s a high probability that you’ll catch the prevailing mood online—whether it’s positive or negative. That’s right, Facebook feelings are contagious.
In a recent study published in the online journal PLOS ONE, James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at University of California, San Diego expanded on previous research he’d done about contagious emotions. “We had shown that happiness spreads in face-to-face networks, and wanted to know if the same was true in this new world online,” says Fowler.
In short, negative posts begot more negative ones, and positive posts increased positive ones. Interestingly, the positive updates were more powerful.
Want your Facebook feed to be cheerier? Here are five ways to use social media to spread positivity.
Post happy things
As Fowler puts it, “If you’re happy and you know it, write a post!”
Use the “like” button
The fact that there’s only a “like” button on Facebook (and no “dislike” one) enables the spread of positive messages, Fowler says. So if a friend posts something upbeat, give it a virtual thumbs up.
Ditch downer friends
Un-friend or hide posts from people who routinely write about the bad stuff, he says. An occasional dose of reality is one thing, but constant negativity will just drag you down.
Share fun pictures and videos, too
Words aren’t the only contagious posts, it seems. Seeing pictures and videos of our friends makes online communication more like seeing them in person. “And as virtual life becomes more real, its emotional impact increases,” Fowler says.
Take to Twitter
Facebook isn’t the only place to improve your mood online. Other research has found that positive tweets are three times more likely to be re-tweeted than negative ones.