Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Intercollegiate Media Studies

Reader 1

Professor James Morrison

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An increased emphasis on the happiness of our population has established an ongoing conversation surrounding happiness ideology and positive psychology which has, in turn, fostered unrealistic ideals and expectations regarding our outlooks and demeanors within public spaces. Happiness is increasingly being used as an indicator of economic efficiency, and corporations are recognizing the importance of creating a positive work environment. Though this revelation is great in theory, the constant conversation surrounding happiness in corporate, social, and personal settings has established a certain expectation regarding the mood and demeanor of our population. We are constantly presented with situations in which displaying negative sentiments or emotions, especially within social spaces, is hugely frowned upon as our mood has an adverse effect on those surrounding us. This creates an overwhelming, national sentiment that it is not ok to not be ok, and that expressing feelings of anxiety, stress, or negativity is not socially acceptable. Not only do these understandings result in an inauthentic representation of emotions and mental health across our population, but it also creates space for capitalist interest as companies take advantage of what can now be understood as the Happiness Industry.

Ultimately, the rise of technology and social media has created increasingly curated social media content and, in turn, has impacted our interpretations of happiness. Our online representations have shifted with the Web 2.0 and social media boom as we have all placed an increased emphasis on how we represent ourselves on the internet. This shift from casual online representations towards more curated and deliberate content has created falsified perceptions of reality as the nature of social media use has become much more performative. The comparative nature of social media platforms has created space for constant competition and sentiments of inferiority. Within this, we have become witness to an overwhelming shift in our personal perceptions of happiness as social ideals of happiness have come to be increasingly defined by content presented across social media platforms. This paper goes over the positive psychology movement and the ways in which incessant positive thinking can be detrimental to a population, while also creating space for the development of an industry surrounding happiness. Finally, I make assertions regarding contemporary social media use, articulating the competitive nature of social media and, within that, social media's impact on perceptions of happiness.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.