‘Too pure for this world’: how unfiltered joy became the internet’s antidote

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We live in a foul world that incentivises the exploitation of the many and the indulgence of the few. A world that condemns people to endless, dehumanising work and invasive unfreedom, even (and especially) in what is sold to us as pleasure.

And what’s the opposite of foul? Pure.

You might have seen pure stuff on social media: stories of people spontaneously helping others, innocently misreading social situations, or being playful for no reason. Dogs are way too pure – especially when they do “human” things, like “paying” for treats using leaves. Interspecies friendships are pure.

Cheering on your ex is pure. Being delighted by babies in Pope costumes is pure. Children’s emotions, beliefs and gestures are pure. Using your acting skills to grant a dying boy’s wish is pure. Gentle, creative, non-competitive activities are pure.

Perhaps the pure operates as a genuine circuit-breaker: a welcome moment of surprised relief. Dads are pure because men are foul. Old people’s texts are pure because young people’s experiences of text messaging are foul. Everyday heroes are pure because celebrities and admired leaders turn out to be foul.

Crucially, the pure is redemptive and liberating.

Don’t Let Facebook Make You Miserable

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IT is now official. Scholars have analyzed the data and confirmed what we already knew in our hearts. Social media is making us miserable.

We are all dimly aware that everybody else can’t possibly be as successful, rich, attractive, relaxed, intellectual and joyous as they appear to be on Facebook. Yet we can’t help comparing our inner lives with the curated lives of our friends.

Revealed: the more time that children chat on social media, the less happy they feel

Researchers have found that the more time children spend chatting online, the less happy they feel about their life overall.

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Perhaps Facebook should carry a health warning. A study has revealed that the children who spend more time on online social networks feel less happy in almost all aspects of their lives.

The research by a team of economists at the University of Sheffield, to be presented at this week’s Royal Economic Society annual conference in Bristol, shows that the more time children spend chatting on Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram, the less happy they feel about their school work, the school they attend, their appearance, their family and their life overall. However, they do feel happier about their friendships.

Economists found that spending just one hour a day on social networks reduces the probability of a child being completely happy with his or her life overall by around 14%. They found that this was three times as high as the estimated adverse effect on wellbeing of being in a single-parent household – and larger than the effect of playing truant.

Depressed by Politics? Just Let Go

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The unhappiness results speak for themselves. A friend of mine — a well-known journalist with a large social media following — once confided in me that there is little that brings him more anxiety than checking his Twitter feed. As he clicks on his notifications, he can feel his chest tighten. Maybe you can relate to this.

So what is the solution? First, find a way to bring politics more into your sphere of influence so it no longer qualifies as an external locus of control. Simply clicking through angry political Facebook posts by people with whom you already agree will most likely worsen your mood and help no one. Instead, get involved in a tangible way — volunteering, donating money or even running for office. This transforms you from victim of political circumstance to problem solver.

Second, pay less attention to politics as entertainment. Read the news once a day, as opposed to hitting your Twitter feed 50 times a day like a chimp in a 1950s experiment on the self-administration of cocaine. Will you get the very latest goings on in Washington in real time? No. Will that make you a more boring person? No. Trust me here — you will be less boring to others. But more important, you will become happier.

So go ahead, let go of the tree.

Lonely and envious in real life? You’ll feel the same on Facebook

A 17 year old teenage girl on her Apple laptop computer in her bedroom at night, checking her Facebook page and sending messages to her friends, UK<br>FDB0JA A 17 year old teenage girl on her Apple laptop computer in her bedroom at night, checking her Facebook page

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It turns out that staying away from Facebook for a bit could be good for you. Known by anyone who is actually honest with themselves, that piece of obviousness is now backed up by academics: experts – boo, hiss! – from the University of Copenhagen. The publication of The Facebook Experiment: Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Wellbeing makes it scientific fact now: social media sucks for you.

But you knew that. Facebook is, and always has been at heart, a party made up of people you don’t really like who all have better lives than you, and you’re the prat who walked through the door to hear about it. Everyone else’s holidays are more exciting than yours, their relationships happier, and their jobs way more impressive than the crap you’re dragging yourself through every day to scrape enough money together for Super Noodles. Because you can’t really cook, either. They can all cook.

 

Stephen Colbert Staffer Creates #CarefreeBlackKids2k16 Social Media Hashtag, Results Are Adorable

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“I am not sure if there is anything I could say that would approach the enormity and complexity of the multiple tragedies that happened last week, so I’m not going to try right now,” Colbert told his audience. “But if you would like to see something beautiful, one of our social media producers, Heben Nigatu, started a social media hashtag, #CarefreeBlackKids2k16. It is really great. They’re really beautiful, and it will make you smile to see these children happy.”

Study Finds Londoners Take the Most Miserable Selfies

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The Big Bang Data Exhibition, a new project from selfiecity, collected selfies from Bangkok, London, Berlin, Moscow, New York and Sao Paulo. A team of media researchers, data scientists and information designers then used the images in order to compare and contrast a bunch of interesting things, like emotional expression, physical poses, gender and different age ranges.

The findings show that… London has an average of 0.55 on the happiness emotion scale (with 1 being the most happy) in comparison to the 0.62 average of other cities in the study.

 

 

This app helps you find and cheer up the saddest people on Twitter

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A lot of people are probably having a crappy day and are tweeting about just how horrible they are feeling… Using Twitter’s API and MetaMind’s sentiment analysis API, [CheerUpper] culls the social media platform for downer tweets. When you click on the “Cheer someone up!” button, you are given a random, sad tweet to respond to.

And here’s a radio excerpt (audio) about this phenomenon, which is where I first heard about this app.

Editorial note: We will be taking a short break from posting while your digital insights blogger takes some vacation days (so no CheerUppering needed here!). Back after the UK bank holiday weekend with more fun, fascinating content.

Social Peacocking and the Shadow

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I’ve long spoken of the idea that much social media has turned into “social peacocking” — showing yourself in a favorable light online, presenting only the happy moments, a “highlights reel” of your life, so to speak, and how this leads to FOMO in others. Look at me: here I am doing cool things, in interesting places, with beautiful people.

…It occurred to me that the real problem was not the showing off. The eminence grise that was Carl Jung showed us what can happen to those who stay on the sunny side, and only on the sunny side of life. Jung posited the idea of The Shadow, the dark side of one’s character. The Shadow is not only what is evil, but what is petty, selfish, childish, annoying, and usually unconscious. The more a person acknowledges his shadow, and brings it into consciousness, the healthier and more whole the person will be. But if driven underground and sent into hiding, The Shadow will take on a life of its own, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

…Social peacocking is life on the internet without the shadow. It is an incomplete representation of a life, a half of a person, a fraction of the wholeness of a human being. It’s the lonely crowd, the network and society, and not the community… We have to bring The Shadow back into our technology if we are to live there and find our humanity reflected back to us. In our strivings to be better, we must not forget to be whole.

Coke’s Super Bowl Ad Puts Spotlight On Cyberbullying – UPDATED

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With this ad Coca-Cola launches its #MakeItHappy campaign, which the company describes as a “movement to add more happiness to the Web and offset negativity.”

 Internet negativity is not news to anyone, and at the extreme end of this negativity, cyberbullying has had tragic effects on the lives of many. According to StopBullying.gov, a 2013 study revealed that 15 percent of high school students have experienced electronic bullying. But the Coca-Cola ad, addressing Internet negativity, and criticizing it, takes a step into the corporate mainstream.

UPDATE: Tricked Into Quoting Hitler, Coca-Cola Suspends Automated Tweet Campaign

The debacle illustrates that major brands like Coke can’t make campaigns featuring automatic tweets without the expectation that it will likely get highjacked…