Are Social Media Moods Contagious?

It’s well known that happiness and other emotions can affect others through face-to-face interaction, but what happens when the conversation takes place through text on a screen, and our mood is instead represented by :) or :( ?

A recent study shows that moods can, in fact, spread virally through social media.

Through an analysis of Facebook status updates, researchers found that for every user making a negative social media post after directly experiencing rainy weather, one to two other users would also feel that negative emotional impact—regardless of the weather in their location.

Findings like these give an updated meaning to the idea that “emotions are contagious,” and fortunately, it seems as though social media “smiles” are too. In contrast to sad or gloomy posts, happy status updates had an even stronger impact, generating more positive posts from other users.

From spreading positivity to cultivating compassion, we often think about practicing mindfulness in our real-world interactions, but it makes sense that we should do so online as well. Posting publicly to Facebook or Twitter is not a one-on-one conversation, but it isn’t a private journal either. What we say and share online can send a message to many in an instant. This is not to imply that we should exclusively promote messages of blissful positivity, as social media can be a useful forum for fostering progressive and constructive discourse on many important issues. Instead, we should strive to be more mindful of our messages, thinking carefully about what it says, and how it could potentially affect others who may receive it.

So the next time a rainy day comes along and you are bombarded by gloomy posts from your peers, try not to reciprocate. Instead, provoke meaningful thought or be a source of positivity, understanding, or compassion.

If you need some inspiration, I invite you to reflect upon and share some of these messages below from our SAVOR Facebook community: