The Path For Digital Happiness? Building Community

Do your digital devices make you happy? Your watch can tell you whether you walked 10,000 steps today, your Instagram account can show you pictures of beautiful people in beautiful places, and your Twitter account can show you the news as it happens — but do these things make you happy? Probably not. More likely, after your attention surfs from one channel to the next, you feel distracted by, with no real sense of belonging in, an electronic world. You may even feel depressed (link). Most of your digital devices do not make you happier. 

Why? Digital media gives us information, but what we crave is membership, intimacy, and community. Human beings are happiest when they participate in groups, take actions, and get praise. Researchers call this the “cycle of intimacy.” In the academic literature, “people-centered” activities that build “social support” — activities that communicate to a person that they are part of a network —  improve our quality of life (link). 

Here at Magnify we do more than provide a digital space for your ideas — our work starts by asking you what you think would make the world a better place. Our world needs voices like yours. But we don’t stop there. Our next step is to help you build a community — or to share your idea as part of a community of like-minded changemakers. Then, we support your work by providing a private space for you to collaborate and for us to praise you and your network for taking action. These tools give you what you need to find happiness in the pursuit of your wild idea. 

The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, is famous for saying that “the cure for depression is action.” We agree that action is an important step — but it’s the middle step. First you need a community — then action — and then you need praise. Put these three ingredients together and you can not only change the world, but you can find happiness online. 

Below are six stories from Magnifiers who have an idea for how to change the world. Can you help? 

Tom says, “Preserving the environment is very important to me for a few key reasons. On a personal level, I absolutely love spending time in nature so preservation is a matter of ensuring that I will still be able to enjoy nature in the future. In the same vein, I want to preserve the environment so that future generations can also enjoy the wonders of nature in the same way that I have been able to–I don’t want to have to tell my children and grandchildren my experiences, I want them to be able to experience it themselves. And of course, on an existential level, global warming poses a huge threat to all of humanity, but also creates an opportunity for mankind to unite behind a common cause, one in which I hope to contribute.” Link:

Herman says, “I chose to spread awareness about New Jersey’s upcoming primary elections because of how much I value civic engagement in my community. With all the things going on in people’s lives and this not being a presidential election year, it’s easy to forget about upcoming primaries. Being one of the two states that have gubernatorial races as well as other important down ballot races this year, I wanted to remind New Jersey voters that they need to make their voices heard. Through my project, I hope I can remind people to 1) get registered to vote if they are not already and 2) remember to vote whether that be at an in-person polling station or through the mail. Local elections are so crucial, and I hope my project will be able to get that message across to voters across the state.” Link:

Saarah says, “I chose to create a project regarding the upcoming Virginia primaries for a few reasons. Lately, there’s been more push for engagement in local politics, specifically elections, and that’s been really great to witness. Local elections have often been ignored, but individuals and communities are beginning to see the significance of voter engagement at this level. In my eyes, the next step after recognition of primaries is the research of candidates. This year, Virginia’s primaries have a large number of officials running. For Lieutenant Governor alone, there are seven Democrats on the ballot; seven individuals with their own views, priorities, and plans for Virginia. Name-recognition is a highly effective tactic, and in order to break away from that mentality, it’s imperative that voters use the resources that they have and knowledge that they gain to exercise their right, especially in local elections. I hope that with my project, people could understand the importance of educated voting and implement that in real-time!” Link:

Rachel says, “Reaching herd immunity takes a community effort; it cannot be done alone. So, we need to engage our friends, families, and peers and actively fight against misinformation to get everyone informed of the facts and to get as many people vaccinated as possible. This project is very important to me as I, like surely most people, would like to get back to being around others, from being in class with my peers to being able to hang out with my friends. It is of the utmost importance to be able to do these activities safely while protecting the members of our communities. Vaccines are our greatest tool to getting there. So, in order to combat the fear and misinformation holding people back from getting vaccinated, I sought solutions from Magnify users themselves on how they helped their loved ones feel comfortable and confident getting vaccinated. My hope is that their tips and resources will help others encourage their friends and families to get vaccinated.” Link:

Angelina says: “I chose my project because lots of Americans often forget that apart from our Senators and Congresspeople, we also have the option to directly contact the President! In a representative democracy, the government is elected by the people for the people. Our vote is our voice. However, we cannot in good conscience only use our voice every four years when an election rolls around. We should regularly write to the White House and keep our leader accountable for his or her promises.” Link:

Gabby says, “I chose my project as “Supporting Small Businesses” because I believe that we as individuals can all work to support our economy and struggling small business in this difficult time. Although it may seem like one person cannot make a significant difference, individual contributions add up and do positively benefit society. In order to prevent our favorite small businesses from closing as a result of COVID-19, we must all do our part.” Link: