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 most racist places in America, according to Google

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For the PLOS ONE paper, researchers looked at searches containing the N-word. People search frequently for it, roughly as often as searches for  “migraine(s),” “economist,” “sweater,” “Daily Show,” and “Lakers.” (The authors attempted to control for variants of the N-word not necessarily intended as pejoratives, excluding the “a” version of the word that analysis revealed was often used “in different contexts compared to searches of the term ending in ‘-er’.”)

YouTube: More Millennial Dads Watch Parenting Videos Than Millennial Moms

youtube-millennial-dads

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During a panel at the South By Southwest multimedia conference in Austin this week, YouTube shared that more millennial dads watch parenting-related videos on its platform than millennial moms. And in a study conducted alongside research outfits Flamingo and Ipsos Connect, the video giant shared several other findings about millennial parents.

Forty percent of millennials are parents today, for instance, and they tend to have more open relationships with their children than past generations, CNBC reports — with 80% of survey respondents saying that their child is one of their best friends, and 75% saying that their child is involved in household decisions.

How do children use the internet? We asked thousands of kids around the world

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The report from Global Kids Online is the first stage of an ambitious project to find out which children are using the internet, what they are learning, and the opportunities and risks it presents. To hear their perspectives, the project conducted interviews and surveys of children aged between nine and 17 in South Africa, the Philippines and Serbia, and aged 13 to 17 in Argentina…

We did not really know what to expect, although we knew some of the problems. In Latin America, for example, children live in hugely different urban and rural environments, and at the extremes of wealth and poverty. South African society exhibits high levels of violence, which now extends online. The Philippines faces a growing challenge around child sexual exploitation and abuse, while Serbia struggles with the social exclusion of its Roma population. Does internet access help children and their families face these issues, or does it make them worse?

Millennials: Truths, Lies, and What They’re *Really* Doing on Their Smartphones

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Precisely why young people differ from earlier generations is really rooted in what they consider to be the essential truths of their own generation. They believe:

  •     The old guard doesn’t care much for young people.
  •     Technology—smartly leveraged — can effectively turn longstanding power structures on their heads.
  •     Partisan politics offer limited solutions and fewer results to the most important issues of our time.

In this report, we’ll take a deep dive into:

  •     Part One: Young People’s Approach to Making the World Suck A Little Less
  •     Part Two: For Young People, The Future’s So (Sort Of) Bright
  •     Part Three: How Young People Get Busy, Online and Off
  •     Part Four: Why Politics is a Game Young People Don’t Want to Play

Read on. And let these young people surprise you.

 

Stressed at Work? Tell It to Social Media

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Can social media thus shine a spotlight on workers’ stress levels? The authors of a new study analyzed a database of more than 2 billion tweets from almost 47 million individuals during an 18-month period. After filtering for only English-language tweets with the words “work” or “job” in the post, the authors were left with a sample of more than 8 million work-related tweets, or about 3.65 percent of all the tweets that were sent in the U.S. during that time.

…To examine weekly trends, the authors aggregated the text analysis results to correlate with the days of the week — all the Mondays together, all the Tuesdays together, and so forth. They could then calculate which days, on average, featured the most tweets about work-related stress.

Everybody really does hate Monday, it turns out. Tweets with mentions of work stress peaked at the beginning of the workweek and slowly declined through Thursday. On Friday, there was a much steeper drop-off, suggesting that people either are mentally ready to be out of the office or don’t see much point in discussing stressful work circumstances with the weekend rapidly approaching.

One would think the pattern would continue and that workers would largely feel stress-free when away from the office Saturday and Sunday. However, the analysis uncovered a different pattern: Negative emotions and stress-related comments don’t decrease steadily from Friday through the weekend, but actually begin to pick up Saturday and increase markedly on Sunday. Clearly, the “Sunday blues” are no myth — people begin fretting about their jobs as the weekend draws to a close and the stresses of Monday morning loom on the horizon.

Pew Study finds race conversations noticeably absent from white people’s timelines

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…According to a recent Pew Research Study, 67 percent of white social media users say they never post or share posts about race on their timelines.

This might not come as a surprise as conventional etiquette tends to shy from public discussions about hot button, passion-inducing topics like politics, race and religion. And for those who don’t have to deal with the daily stresses of racism, talking about race can feel daunting or overwhelming.

Conversely, the study reveals that black users are less likely to skirt the conversation. According to the Pew Study, “Some 28% of black social media users say at least some of the things they share or post on social networking sites are about race or race relations, including 8% who say this applies to most of their posts.” And only 42 percent of black social media users said that they never post or share posts about race on their timelines.