I could write a book about all the negatives of social media. Your data is not secure, and anything you post (even if set to private) is saved and can be shared by the company. Social media use has been linked to increased depression. We know this, and yet we still use it.
Why? Because it’s convenient. And, increasingly, we have to use it because everyone else does.
If I log off from Facebook for too long, I lose “the scoop” on what’s going on with my family and friends. When they run into me, they don’t bother to say what they posted — it’s already on social media, so I must have seen it, right? I miss invitations to parties, and Facebook messages notifying me of important news. Some people know my phone number, yet will message me over a social media site, not text me — even if I haven’t been on social media in awhile.
So, like most people, I have to eventually go back to see what I missed.
It’s hard to capture everyone’s experience with social media, because it’s customizable. If you log onto most web sites, everyone will see the same thing. Not so with social media: you’ll see a feed curated to your unique interests, based on what you’ve clicked on in the past. What I see is not what you might see.
Everyone or every page you follow changes what appears on your screen. This can lead to information bubbles, where we never see information that conflicts with our beliefs.
If you log onto most web sites, everyone will see the same thing. Not so with social media.
And who you follow can have an impact on your well-being. If you see a lot of posts about people’s parties and accomplishments, and feel left out, that can be bad for you. If you join a support group that helps you improve yourself, that can be good for you.
In 2012, data researchers used Facebook to conduct an experiment. They adjusted the news feed of almost 700,000 users, trying to see if the information users saw could change their mood. It did.
Users who saw more negative words were more likely to post something indicating they were unhappy. Users who saw positive words? An analysis revealed they were more likely to post something indicating they were happy.