This episode of Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast recently had an interesting discussion of the misinterpretations of people’s behaviours based on mobile device usage. Starting around the 15 minute mark, they share stories like: someone thought another parent was being rude at a presentation because they kept looking at their phone, but that person was actually using it to take notes. Or another person kept looking at their watch, but they weren’t checking to see how the time was dragging; instead they were waiting for an important message via their Apple Watch. They recommend warning someone if you’re expecting a call, “my babysitter might be calling me, so excuse me if I glance at my phone.”
Excerpt from this article (via @hairychesters, who said “I loved this. And was totally captivated by it. Get a cup of tea and dive deep into it… This is anthropology.”):
For teenagers these days, social media is real life, with its own arcane rules and etiquette. Writer Mary H. K. Choi embedded with five high schoolers to chronicle their digital experiences… As with most teens, they’re elusive creatures. But when Choi asked them targeted questions, they were able to deconstruct their own behavior in exhaustive detail. You’ll what Choi discovered.
Excerpt from this article:
The psychologist and parenting expert Michele Borba says society’s fixation with the selfie is having some unintended consequences. She sees children mimicking not-so-nice behavior in adults and fewer grown-ups calling them out.
In “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World,” her 23rd book, Dr. Borba combines scientific research with tales from real-world families and offers concrete tips on how to cultivate kindness.
We talked recently about “selfie syndrome,” ways to flip the focus away from the self and specific activities to build empathy in our children. Here is an edited excerpt of our conversation.
Excerpt from this article:
…A Chicago-based company called Pay Your Selfie to gather those insights and present them in reports on consumer behavior that are meant to go where focus groups and surveys cannot.
Among the tidbits that Crest, owned by Procter & Gamble, learned from its recent monthlong quest for selfies: There’s a huge spike in brushing from 4 to 6 p.m., probably tied to a desire for happy-hour fresh breath. That knowledge could be useful when Crest decides which times of the day to start future social media campaigns.
Users of the app receive anywhere from 20 cents to $1 for each “task” completed — in Crest’s case, a snapshot taken “while brushing your teeth with your favorite Crest product.” Users can’t double-dip; the app allows only one selfie per task.
The selfies are a good way for companies to obtain information that people can’t or don’t articulate in focus groups or other traditional research methods, said Ravi Dhar, director of the Center for Customer Insights at the Yale School of Management. For example, they could lead to an understanding of which rituals go along with certain types of consumption, he said.
Why We Post is “a global anthropological research project on the uses and consequences of social media” full of fascinating insights and myth-busting surprises. Check out the study website here, or read a commentary on the study in The Economist (link to the article); here is an excerpt:
These fly-on-the-wall perspectives refute much received wisdom. One of the sceptics’ biggest bêtes noires is the “selfie”—which is often blamed for fostering self-regard and an undue focus on attractiveness. “Why We Post”, however, reveals that the selfie itself has many faces. In Italy girls were indeed seen to take dozens of pictures of themselves before settling on one to post. In Brazil many selfies posted by men were taken at the gym. But at the British site, Dr Miller found, schoolchildren posted five times as many “groupies” (images of the picture-taker with friends) as they did selfies. Britons have also created a category called “uglies”, wherein the purpose is to take as unflattering a self-portrait as possible. And in Chile another unique genre has developed: the “footie”. This is a shot taken of the user’s propped-up feet, a sign of relaxation.
The often-humorous, marked-up images known as memes have also come in for criticism… Yet in all cases Dr Miller sees meme-passing not as limiting what social-media users think and say, but as enabling discourse. Many users happily forward memes laced with strong ideological messages about which they would not dare to comment individually.
“Why We Post” thus challenges the idea that the adoption of social media follows a single and predictable trajectory… The study also refutes the idea that social media are making humans any less human. Users are, in Dr Miller’s words, “merely attaining something that was latent in human beings”.
Thanks to Huw and Paul for the links!
Excerpt from this article (Brooke and Elsbitch are the handles of the two teens whom the reporter interviews), this whole article is full of fascinating digital behaviours:
ME: How long have you had Snapchat?
BROOKE: My new account? About a month and a half.
ME: New account?
BROOKE: Yeah, I didn’t like my old name, so I made a new account.
ME: So you lost all your friends…?
BROOKE: Not really. I used to have about 215 and now I’m at around 180 or 190.
ME: Tell me what your day is like on Snapchat.
BROOKE: When I wake up, I have about 40 snaps from friends. I just roll through and respond to them.
ME: How do you respond? Like, “haha good one, Elsbitch”?
BROOKE: No conversations…it’s mostly selfies. Depending on the person, the selfie changes. Like, if it’s your best friend, you make a gross face, but if it’s someone you like or don’t know very well, it’s more regular.
ME: I’ve seen how fast you do these responses… How are you able to take in all that information so quickly?
BROOKE: I don’t really see what they send. I tap through so fast. It’s rapid fire.
ME: What is a streak?
BROOKE: You don’t know what a streak is? It’s when you send a snap to one of your friends on consecutive days. You have to make sure to respond every day with a snap or you break the streak.
BROOKE: Don’t Snapchat boys that you like first — wait until they Snapchat you.
ELSBITCH: You need to have more than 150 views on your Story.
ELSBITCH: Don’t overload your Story. Nobody wants to sit and watch five videos. One video MAX.
BROOKE: If you’re weird, people will judge you. People don’t care as much as you do in that moment. Also, EVERYONE looks at Cosmo on Discover. If it’s funny, they share it.
ELSBITCH: Don’t reply to weird people. You could reply once, but definitely don’t get a streak.
BROOKE: Get trophies. It’s not a huge deal, but friends like to compare trophies.
ELSBITCH: Take a selfie on your friends’ Snapchats and add your handle in the text to request more friends. Still, don’t be desperate for followers.
Excerpt from this article, via Benoit W and Paul M (thanks!):
Social media and digital technologies have changed the way we connect, interact, and really, the way we live our lives overall. But that influence has evolved over time, and as such, the significance of it may not be clear – if you were to tell someone that social media has changed the world as we know it, they’d likely scoff at the suggestion. But taking a step back from the day-to-day updates – the Likes, the selfies, the endless stream of emoji – move back from the superficial layer of the newly connected world and the wider societal impacts of social media become clear. Whether you know it or not – even whether you use the platforms or not – the impact of their presence are leading transformational shifts within our world, both online and off.
This, in essence, is the key focus of a new Facebook IQ study which seeks to “explore technology’s transformative role in our everyday lives”. To do this, Facebook commissioned research firm Crowd DNA to survey people from vastly different regions around the world and gather insights on how the impact of technology is resulting in shifts in attitudes, values and daily rituals. Facebook matched these findings against keywords and conversations around the same shifts across Facebook and Instagram, giving them an overview of how these elements are evolving based on connective technology.