Social Media – Euphoric or Depressive?
(or The Highs and Lows of Using Social Media)
Andy Adkins, CIO, Social Evidence, LLC – I’ve been on Facebook for, what sometimes seems forever, but I actually joined more than 10 years ago in July 2007. Facebook used to make it easy to see when you joined, but alas, now it’s more difficult. If you are ONLY looking to see when you first posted on Facebook (not necessarily to see the exact date you joined), you can go to your own Facebook page to the top right part of the page, click the down arrow (the one next to the big question mark), select Activity Log, then click on the earliest year and scroll down as far as you can.
I mention this simple exercise because I’m doing a little research on the highs and lows of using social media. I’ve been working on the Social Evidence project for more than a year and like any disruptive application like this, you not only learn new things, but you are also on the verge of inventing things, based on what you’ve learned.
For example, on social media, I consider myself a “likable lurker.” Geez, now that I’ve typed that word, it sounds sort of demeaning, though the description is perfect – I’m on Facebook several times a day and mostly, I scroll through my page looking (lurking) at who’s posted what. My main interest these days is family and friends, and what is going on in their lives. I especially love seeing photos of my friends and their families, especially those I haven’t seen in quite a while. Facebook allows us the luxury of not only finding lost friends, but also reconnecting with them.
I stay away from politics, primarily because most of the posts that I see are silly memes or a repost of something that is usually so outrageous I gave up responding to the poster or correcting them if they’re passing along false information (why are some people so lazy when it comes to checking facts). It’s a waste of my time – I’m at that age where I’m not going to change my opinion based on some Facebook “armchair memer” reposting something that is not original.
Having said that, I do often read original posts from Facebook friends and the follow-on intelligent debates and discussions, both pros & cons, because that to me is more interesting. Instead of lurkers, these are “debatable posters.”
Why do I use the term “likeable lurker?” Because while I’m on Facebook or Instagram or, to a lesser extent Twitter, I “like” or “love” many posts—these are commonly called “reactions.” And, Facebook makes it so easy to click on the “like” or “love” or “sad” icon.
Now to the point of this article: how does using social media affect us psychologically? Why do people spend so much time on Facebook or Instagram? Has this replaced our getting together for social events or talking to people? I’m of that generation that grew up without social media: we played outside, went to the mall to hang out, and spent Friday and Saturday nights with friends at the movies and the drive-in. Yes, I’m showing my age here.
I have a good friend who is a therapist and she recently made a comment that a lot of people use social media to either affirm their lives or reach out to others. Here’s a simple example: when you Post either a message or a photo to Facebook or Instagram, how long do you wait until you check to see if anyone “liked” that post or shared it or commented on it? We’re all guilty of that. It’s one way of affirming that people “follow” your Posts.
This same therapist friend of mine mentioned that it’s not unusual for someone to post several things in a row (whether they are images, memes, or shares) and, depending on the “theme” of that series of posts, you may be able to tell if the person is euphoric or depressive. I really hadn’t thought about it that way, but it does make one think, doesn’t it?
In February 2014, the Pew Research Center surveyed thousands of Americans about their social media lives and discovered that 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends at least once a day, with 29% doing so several times per day.
There are all kinds of studies available on the Internet about the effects of using social media. Some are more prevalent than others, but like any other study you read, you have to sometimes read between the lines – how does it affect you? Leave your comments below and feel free to share.
P.S. I tend to “like” those studies that show coffee, chocolate, and wine are all good for you.
Andy Adkins is the Chief Information Officer of Social Evidence, LLC, a leading cloud-based social media collection, organization, authentication, and analytics application. He has been an independent legal technology consultant for more than 25 years, a past chair of the ABA TECHSHOW (2000, 2001) and past co-chair of LegalTech Conferences (2000-2007). He is the author of “The Lawyer’s Guide to Practice Management Systems,” published in April 2009 by the ABA Law Practice Management Section. He can be reached at 352.538.5346, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.social-evidence.com.
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