Posted: Apr 25, 2014 7:00 AM
There's been a backlash in the world of social media for moms lately. Many moms stand accused of "Fakebooking," or only showing the best parts of parenting. While a good vent can help moms through a rough day, too much venting can increase negative emotions while focusing on the positive can restore happiness.
Photo credit: simarik/ iStock/360/ Getty Images

I stand accused of "Fakebooking." I won't deny it. I do tend to share the positive. I share cute and funny pictures, I make a few jokes (sometimes people don't get my jokes) and I share my work. You know what else I do? I "like" all of the cute and funny pictures that appear in my feed, laugh at my friends' jokes and read work posted by my writing friends. Does that sound fake to you? It does to some.

Occasionally my dry sarcasm is misinterpreted as a serious demeanor, and people respond by sharing heated thoughts in the comments. My response? I delete the post. Apparently that's controversial in the world of Facebook. If I put it out there, I should answer for it. Even if my humor was overlooked and somehow upset someone.

Life is hard enough without making social media a place for constant debates. I see the heated discussions all over Facebook and Twitter and I avoid them at all costs. Sometimes what starts out as a fairly benign question ignites a firestorm of angry opinions. Sometimes a person seeks an opinion on a particular topic and a meaningful conversation begins, only to come to an abrupt ending when negativity creeps in. It's hard to say what drives negative interactions on social media, as it's very easy to comment and run, but that kind of negativity can be contagious.

Get your feelings out in a healthy manner, but focus on the positive to increase feelings of happiness.

Most people benefit from a good vent now and then, but when the venting is done on social media there is no real end in sight. Venting to a friend for 20 minutes can be cathartic, but venting for three days on Facebook because new opinions keep rolling in can actually be toxic. In fact, research shows that ruminating on negative feelings (staying with negative emotions versus moving toward positive thoughts) actually increases depressed mood. Long story short: Get your feelings out in a healthy manner, but focus on the positive to increase feelings of happiness.

Positive emotions can be just as contagious as negative emotions. Showing the positive on social media, or "Fakebooking" as some like to call it, can actually shift your mood from negative to positive. Sharing the best part of your day is likely to elicit positive responses from your friends just as you respond with a "like" when something positive runs through your feed. And there isn't anything fake about that.

Optimism has benefits

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many clear benefits to positive thinking. Although it's unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience health benefits, it's worth taking into consideration before you hit "post" on that next potential Facebook tirade.

Check out some of the benefits of positive thinking:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower levels of depression
  • Increased resistance to the common cold
  • Better coping skills during times of stress

Happy feels good

Negative emotions and dwelling on anger causes people to feel depressed, anxious and sometimes even aggressive.

We can talk about longer lifespan and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease if that's what it takes to encourage people to take a more positive approach to life, but the bottom line is that positive emotions feel good. Negative emotions and dwelling on anger causes people to feel depressed, anxious and sometimes even aggressive. Positive emotions, on the other hand, trigger feelings of generosity, peacefulness and hopefulness. Yes, parenting can be hard and life is full of obstacles. Some days are definitely better than others. But will engaging in a negatively fueled Facebook rant restore feelings of happiness at the end of a tiring day? Probably not.

When you stop ruminating on the negative and find the bright spot in your day, like when your toddler smothered you with peanut butter kisses, you begin to restore a sense of calm. No, it doesn't happen in a moment and yes, you might need to vent your angry feelings to another adult for a few minutes first. But thinking happy thoughts can help you move away from toxic thoughts.

Less is more

A good rule of social media is that less is more. Think twice before you vent on social media. What is it that you're looking for? Do you need support? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Look to your real life friends and family members to help you through the difficult moments and you might find that the negative emotions fade away in a timely manner.

As for that Fakebooking accusation on my end? Guilty as charged. If you need me, I'm busy "liking" pictures of cute kids in my Facebook feed.

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