Of the many powers of Facebook, one you might not have guessed is that if your friends are feeling sad or happy or cranky or whatever on Facebook, you will probably feel that way too. This is an argument for only having awesome, happy friends on Facebook, so that you can catch only awesomeness and happiness. But not too awesome or happy, because that’s annoying, and makes us look bad. Anyway, a “Facebook data scientist” (obviously, there are such people) analyzed a million Facebook postings, which is likely to have had an impact upon his own mood, and found that people who used words like “happy,” “hug,” “sick,” and “vile” (vile!) in their status updates “sparked similar emotions in later Facebook postings by their friends.”
This happens in real life, too, but what’s fascinating is that it happens in social media, which gets more like real life every day.
“Up to three days later, for people who use more negative words, their friends will also use more negative words,” Kramer said. “If people are using more positive words, not only are their friends using more positive words, their friends also will use fewer negative words.”
What this means, however, about that self-satisfied schadenfreude feeling you get when one of your Facebook frenemies bemoans the loss of a job or relationship or favorite sweater is yet to be determined. We’re pretty sure that feeling is happiness, or at least, something very close to it.