WATCH: Social Media and the ‘Happiness Effect’

How are we all, and college students in particular, changed by our smartphones?

Donna Freitas, keynote speaker at the 2019 Symposium on the New Evangelization at Benedictine College, is author of The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost. The theme of this year’s Symposium, “Technology and the Human Person,” examines and illuminates the impact of technology on the human person, social life, and the common good.

Above, see her interview with EWTN about the book. One reviewer, author Tony Reinke, described her book this way:

“I read over 1,100 articles and somewhere around 50 books on smartphones, digital technology, and social media. The Happiness Effect was the last book I read, and it easily finishes in the top three of what I think are most helpful books in the field. Donna Freitas surveyed about 800 students, and met and interviewed about 200 students in person, a group spread out across the country. … She reinforces some of the major concerns, brushes aside a number of false presumptions and over simplifications, raises new issues I found nowhere else (like the link between digital addictions and personal insecurity), and she illustrates all of the points from her lively anecdotal interviews.”

An excerpt from the book:

“The burden we are carrying around because of our phones would be lifted if they would only disappear off the face of this earth. These tiny, light, pretty, shiny devices have come to represent an outsized weight upon our shoulders — we look at them and see our to-do lists, our responsibilities, other people’s needs, our perpetual inability to keep up, the ways in which others constantly judge us, everyone’s successes amid all our failures, among so many other stresses — stresses that feel more like thousands of pounds than a few ounces. At the same time, we see them as our escape from boredom and loneliness, our connection to loved ones and friends, our guide when we are lost, the archive of our best hair days and most memorable moments, the diaries where we place all our most intimate feelings, hopes, and dreams.”

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.