Are You Less Grateful When You Use Social Media?


We often see amazing pictures of our friends on social media, whether it is photos of their holidays, family, friends, scenery, or the good old selfies. What those pictures seem to have in common are the wonderful moments that they share. When we see the most beautiful things, our minds are slowly creating wires of neurons that link those to positivity. But at the same time, what we are exposed to are the same images that we use to define normalcy. Because we are biologically built to trust what we see.

A recent study by the University of British Columbia examined the use of three major platforms of social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and found that the most frequently used function is checking the news feed. What we tend to see when we scroll through the social media feed are everyone else’s highlight reels. Whether we realize it or not, when we see images that are well-curated and highly photoshopped to make them beautiful, we automatically compare those best moments in other people’s lives versus the reality of our lives, which consist of ups and downs. With half of the world’s population using social media today, we are primed to chase the extraordinary moments, certain body types, money, lifestyle, the way we look, where we vacation, etc, to feel that we have enough and that we are enough.


We normally feel grateful for the positive things in our lives and when we create meaningful connections with others. To be truly grateful is to appreciate what we have, despite life’s imperfections and ordinariness.


A research paper on gratitude by Michael Mccullough and colleagues reveals that some of the barriers to gratitude are envy and materialism. Because envy and materialism involve focusing on what we do not have. Which we are frequently reminded of through social media, it makes it difficult to be grateful and envious at the same time. In that way, there’s a bias in ourselves that we can only be grateful when our lives are as beautiful as the filtered scenery photo we always see. Or when we look as good as that someone posing against an amazing background.

A recent documentary, Social Dilemma, shows how social media is being used to rewire the way we think and manipulate our reality. It also highlighted the ways the platforms work to keep us coming back and make us addicted.

With frequent use of social media, we find ourselves spending less time with the people around us. We seem to know everything they are doing. But, we are not making significant connections that are created when we have meaningful conversations with them. If using social media makes us feel like we are not enough and it also makes us spend less time with people. It results in compounding feelings of disconnection and isolation. On the other hand, when we truly connect with others, we feel that we are not alone. We feel appreciated and as a result, we feel grateful.


Gratitude is the key to happiness and joy. Whether you live in abundance or not, being grateful as often as possible will boost your happiness significantly.


When we think about the things that we are grateful for, it shifts our perspectives and the way we think in a positive way. But when we are grateful from our heart, it generates the kind joy that is so deep that it transcends the imperfections of our daily lives. We can feel this true gratitude wherever we go, no matter what happens. Let us choose to be more heartfully present and to feel and experience gratitude in any situation.


8 Tips for Starting Social Media Habits that Make Gratitude Easier

  1. Do an audit of how you feel after scrolling through your social media
  2. Place a time limit of social media apps used on your phone
  3. Be present when you are with others and call your friends out when they are scrolling
  4. Follow things or watch things that make you laugh and are inspiring to you, some inspiring and resourceful account could be Natural Way of Living’s
  5. Limit exposure to things that build envy and materialism
  6. Share your creativity and passion
  7. Share with friends real things that make you grateful, even if they seem ordinary
  8. Join a community that fosters gratitude and happiness from within



Winda Liem

Co-Editor, Natural Way of Living