What We Learned from Staring at Social Media Data for a Year

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Many of our interactions are moving exclusively onto online platforms. As our lives become more tethered to online platforms, we become more vulnerable and emotionally attached to what happens on them.

In other words, what happens to us on the internet does matter, regardless of how it may or may not manifest itself in the real world. Social behavior online often mirrors social behavior offline—except that online, human beings are assisted by powerful tools.

We are also starting to see the emergence of social structures—the formation of “in-crowds” and “out-crowds.” Internet culture is optimized and visually designed to encourage quick and emotional sharing, not thoughtful, nuanced discussions. This means that people are encouraged to jump into the fray based on whatever outrage/joy they feel. There’s little incentive online to slow down, to read beyond headlines, and to take the time to digest before we join our respective ideological crowds in cheering on or expressing our discontent with a certain issue.

Human beings are tribal at their core. It’s easy to follow the urge to fall into groups that affirm our views. Algorithms only steer us further into those corners.

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The first social media suicide

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The enterprise of “sending out a message” seems to have given her a renewed sense of energy and purpose. She made a detailed plan, and one that was, as events would show, well conceived. She made it known that she would broadcast some unspecified and sensational event at 4.30pm on 10 May 2016…

Just before 4.30pm, she took her phone, still broadcasting, went out of the house – leaving her cat for the last time – and walked to Égly’s RER station, which took just a few seconds. As she got close, the mood among her followers began to change…

Océane’s death was the first suicide to be broadcast live on today’s social media platforms. During the hours I spent watching her online videos, however, I never got the feeling that she was, in other respects, unusual. I saw traits in her common to a lot of people these days – and possibly to myself, even if they are most pronounced in the young: she was subdued, serious, intermittently funny, distracted by constant electronic tics, slightly unavailable to herself. In so many respects, Océane seemed entirely normal, and I sensed that her online exploit, too, would become more customary over time.

Parents’ social media habits are teaching children the wrong lessons

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Many of today’s young teens were born in an era before social media. By the time they entered preschool, most of their parents had Facebook accounts. And many parents — new to social media — excitedly shared their children’s personal and embarrassing stories. I have written in the past about how parents must consider the effect this sharing has on a child’s psychological development. Children model the behavior of their parents, and when parents constantly share personal details about their children’s lives, and then monitor their posts for likes and followers, children take note. While most parents have their children’s best interests at heart when they share personal stories on social media, there is little guidance to help them navigate parenting in the digital age.

The 29 Most Common Social Media Rules: Which Ones Are Real? Which Ones Are Breakable?

social media rules

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How did you end up learning the unwritten rules for social media etiquette?

For me, it was a lot of watching and waiting, a bit of experimenting, and tons of trial and error. When I first started out on social media, I had just the most basic rules and intuitions. Even now, I feel like I learn a new quirk or quibble on a near-daily basis.

It’s hard to know which rules exist, which ones are real, and which ones are okay to break or follow.

I’d love to help shed some light here so that you can go forth and share confidently.

The 29 most common social media rules

After digging into a bunch of research from thought leaders and influencers, I found there seemed to be a set of social media rules that most could agree on. Here’s the list of 29 social media rules most commonly mentioned by the pros.

Why Every High School Should Teach A Social Media Class

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It’s time to teach social media to high school students.

While some adults who don’t understand social media — ironically because they were never taught it —still dismiss it as a novelty or distraction, the reality is social media has become a force of incredible power, change, and business.

It’s changed our world and its importance is only growing.

So much so that I can’t think of anything more important to teach our next generation of leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and working class citizens than how to create and interpret social media.

If the job of our education system is to prepare students to succeed in the “real world,” then teaching them social media skills should be a prerequisite.

While most teenagers already use social media, I doubt many understand the intricacies of how social media works.

My social media fast

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Last week (approx. May 7-14), I stopped using social media for an entire week… Many people have given up social media and written about it — the digital equivalent of the “Why I’m Leaving New York” essay — but since I didn’t write about leaving New York, I’m going to do this instead.

I used to be very good about using my phone and social media appropriately. More than a decade of working on kottke.org taught me how to not be online when I wasn’t working (for the most part). I tried super hard not to use my phone at all around my kids and if I was out with friends, my phone stayed in my pocket.

Almost a year ago, after 13+ years in the city, I moved from lower Manhattan to rural Vermont… Social media, mostly through my phone, has been an important way for me to stay connected with friends and goings on in the wider world. But lately I’d noticed an obsessiveness, an addiction really, that I didn’t like once I became fully aware of it.

 

…Not a single person noticed that I had stopped using social media. (Not enough to tell me anyway.) Perhaps if it had been two weeks? For me, this reinforced that social media is actually not a good way to “stay connected with friends”. Social media aggregates interactions between loved ones so that you get industrialized communication rather than personal connection. No one really notices if a particular person goes missing because they’re just one interchangeable node in a network.

 

 

Generation X More Addicted to Social Media Than Millennials, Report Finds

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We all know the stereotype: silly millennials, tethered to their phones, unable to accomplish the simplest tasks without scrolling their Instagram feeds, snapping their friends and/or tweeting inanely.

But a Nielsen report released last week shows that Americans from 18 to 34 are less obsessed with social media than some of their older peers are.

Adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media networks, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes for the younger group. More predictably, adults 50 and over spent significantly less time on the networks: an average of 4 hours 9 minutes a week.