Have you ever read an online article or blog that made you so mad you just had to post a comment? It may feel good to vent, and get your feelings off your chest. But in the long run, sharing your views – and getting into online arguments with strangers – will make you less happy and angrier.
That’s the latest from the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Volunteers were asked to follow hot-button topics, and to comment on the issues that bothered them the most. The result: Most participants said they felt better immediately after expressing their point of view. But after several months, their overall levels of happiness had declined. They were more angry. And they were more likely to have acted aggressively offline, too.
The study’s lead author – psychologist Dr. Ryan Martin – says that most people post angry comments when they want to spread an idea they believe in. But he points out that heated, opposing comments rarely change anybody’s mind. Instead, they tend to generate harsh replies from people with differing points of view. And the constant angry back-and-forth ultimately makes people irritable and unhappy.
So, how should we handle issues that are important to us? Dr. Martin says there’s nothing wrong with speaking your mind the first time. But it’s not worth getting into an online debate. Instead, if you still feel strongly about the issue, take action. Whether you write to your congressman, donate money, or organize a protest. Because doing something – instead of just complaining – is a proven mood-booster. And who knows? Your actions just might make a difference.