The Human Psyche and the Effects of Social Media:Are We Really in Control of our Thoughts

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Everything we do affects our conscience and subconscious mind.  From the events we experience to the emotions we feel all have an unknown impact on our thought process and the way we view life.  The human psyche is the entire human mind, conscious and unconscious.  

Our conscious mind contains all of the thoughts, memories, and feelings that we are aware of at any time. This is the part of our mental process that we can think and talk about in a rational manner. Whereas our unconscious mind holds our feelings, thoughts, urges and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness.  Our unconscious mind holds anything that is not pleasing or unacceptable. Such as, pain, anxiety and conflict.  

Even though it is our conscious mind that views social media, the way we feel about the things that we see on social media are interpreted and stored in our unconscious mind.  When someone like a post or a picture we’ve posted it causes an “activation in BRAIN CIRCUITY IMPLICATED IN REWARD”. In other words, it makes us feel good.  A result not getting the likes we hope for causes the opposite reaction, we no longer feel good about ourselves.  These are the feelings we carry with us every day. Even after we see the things, we see on social media the implications last long after.  We as users need to give more attention to what social media is doing to us.  The feelings of resentment we may have towards our past decisions could be triggered by watching others post about how successful they might be.  

Our distorted body image towards ourselves could be caused by seeing all the models who have altered their bodies.  These affects could negatively impact the way we see our lives and the way we look forward to our future.  

A study conducted in 2018 by Pew Research Centre concluded 88% of respondents between 18 to 19 years old reported using social media.  78% of 30 to 49-year- old said the same things.  Keeping in mind that this was a study conducted in 2018 you can only imagine how much these numbers have potentially increased.  Especially in these times of a global pandemic where one of the only means of socializing is through social media.  The only course of action to defend ourselves from these negative implications is to decrease our use of social media and realize that you cannot take everything posted at face value.  We need to take control of our lives and feelings, we should not allow social platforms to determine how we feel every day! Will you take control?

Related Reading:  

Psychology of Social Media

Reference:

“The Psychology of Social Media.” King University Online, online.king.edu/news/psychology-of-social-media/. 

Com0011, Blog 5 — Getting Your News Through Social Media?

You could be trapped in a “collective social bubble”, IU researchers say

I will be the first to admit that one of my sources (but not my only source) of news is social media. I find it the fastest way to get rapidly changing information, whether it is the recent snow storm that crippled Ottawa or a gunman who shut down Parliament and the downtown core. Traditional media outlets—the Sun, Citizen, Metro, CTV, and CBC—have great Twitter feeds that provide up-to-the-minute updates that they cannot provide in print or broadcast.

Twitter-snow-storm

However, a recent study out of Indiana University (IU) has researchers warning that people who get their news from social media are at risk of becoming trapped in a “collective social bubble”, compared with those using search engines.

The first large-scale quantitative study of its kind looked at the potential social bias of online news-seekers by comparing the diversity of news found on search engines and social media. The researchers analysed web searches of 100,000 IU users between October 2006 and May 2010; a database containing 18 million clicks by more than 500,000 AOL search engine users in 2006; and 1.3 billion public social media posts containing links shared by more than 89 million people on Twitter between April 2013 and April 2014.

In the research paper published in the open-access journal PeerJ Computer Science, the authors write:

“We have presented evidence that the diversity of information reached through social media is significantly lower than through a search baseline. As the social media role in supporting information diffusion increases, there is also an increased danger of reinforcing our collective filter bubble….Given the importance of news consumption to civic discourse, this finding is especially relevant to the filter bubble hypothesis.”

While social media has become a prevalent way to access information, spread ideas, and influence opinions, concern had been raised that news is being shared within communities of like-minded people (for example, conservative or liberal viewpoints). People may have adopted this behavior as a coping mechanism for “information overload” and may not be aware they are filtering their access to information by using social media platforms, such as Facebook, where the majority of news stories originate from friends’ postings, said lead author Dimitar Nikolov, a doctoral student in the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington, in a media release.

COM0011 Blog 4 — Internet: Reducing or Increasing Inequalities?

While marginalized people use the internet to broaden their networks, which can increase their social capital, educated people with higher incomes are cashing in on more tangible benefits.

Increasing social capital

Recent research out of Indiana University supports the commonly held belief that African Americans, Latinos and those without a college education are more likely to use the internet to broaden their social networks than Caucasians, Asians and those with degrees.

Author Amy L. Gonzales said:

“The internet can be an important tool for increasing social capital for marginalized groups who otherwise have limited opportunities for personal and professional networking, and underscores the need for making sure these groups have stable, high-quality internet access.”

Gonzales studied 98 Philadelphians, aged 18 and 39, who were asked to complete a short survey 56 times during the six-day study when a random alarm sounded on Palm Pilots they were given. The survey asked about participants’ most recent social interaction, including whether it was online or offline, the race of the person they interacted with and whether it was a strong- or weak-tie relationship. Study participants also completed psychological surveys at the beginning and end of the study. The final analysis is based on data from 76 people and 2,669 surveys.

In her article, Gonzales wrote:

“These data suggest that the internet may actually be a 21st-century resource for reducing inequality if marginalized groups can use the web to increase network heterogeneity…. Future work is needed to determine whether social diversification actually translates to improvements in social capital, as found in earlier studies…. If so, this would pose an exciting benefit of digital communications for those marginalized individuals with internet access.”

Increasing social inequalities

In contrast, a new study from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Dutch researcher indicates that internet use is driving a greater wedge in society, increasing existing inequalities between rich and poor.

The study shows that educated people with high incomes get the greatest benefits from internet use because they get better deals on products and holidays online. In contrast, low-income people from socially deprived backgrounds do not, regardless of access and internet skills.

The study of more than 1,100 people was conducted in The Netherlands, which has a well-developed digital infrastructure and near-universal access. The researchers looked at different socioeconomic groups and what effect their internet use had on their economic and social well-being, as well educational, political and institutional outcomes.

In general, 75 per cent surveyed participants indicated they use the internet to buy cheaper products, 68 per cent to trade goods and 62 per cent to book more affordable holidays. These benefits were more likely to be reported by those with a higher social status than those with disabilities or who were retired or unemployed.

Author Dr. Ellen Helsper said:

“To some extent, the findings suggest that access to and use of the internet might exacerbate existing inequalities offline. Not everyone is able to translate internet use into tangible everyday benefits.”

What other areas should researchers focus their efforts to see the socioeconomic effects of the internet and social media?

COM0011 Blog 3 —Social Media and Poor Sleep: Cause or Effect?

Two recently completed research projects looked at the relation between social media use and sleep. While they came to two different conclusions, they seem to point to a potential spiral effect.

High social media use causes sleep problems

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studied 1,788 Americans ages 19 to 32 from across the country in 2014. Participants filled out questionnaires about the time they spent each day on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, SnapChat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn and the frequency each week. Researchers also assess sleep disturbances with an established scientific system.

On average, participants used social media about an hour per day and 30 times per week. Nearly 30 per cent had high levels of sleep disturbance.

Adjusting for socio-demographic differences, researchers found that participants in the highest 25 per cent of use per day were nearly twice as likely to have sleep disturbances as those in the lowest quartile. Participants in the highest 25 per cent of frequency per week were nearly three times as likely to have sleep problems as those in the lowest quartile. According to lead researcher Jessica C. Levenson:

“This may indicate that frequency of social media visits is a better predictor of sleep difficulty than overall time spent on social media…. If this is the case, then interventions that counter obsessive checking behavior may be most effective.”

The researcher team suggests physicians consider asking patients about social media habits when assessing sleep issues. Interestingly, though, they acknowledge the possibility that participants used social media to pass the time when they could not fall asleep or return to sleep.

Sleep problems cause high Facebook use

While a significant amount of research has looked at how technology affects sleep, researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) turned the idea around and looked at how sleep affected technology usage.

The researchers collected data from 24 male and 42 female UCI undergraduate students for seven days during the spring of 2014. Taking into consideration the students’ gender, age, course load and deadlines, the team of researchers measured students’ behaviour, activities and stress levels. The team did this by using sensors and installing software on the participants’ computers and smart phones that logged and time stamped when they switched from one application window to another or used their phones. Students also completed a sleep survey each morning and an end-of-day survey each night.

The UCI team found that a lack of sleep — which causes tiredness, irritability (bad mood) and distractibility — leads to more frequent online activities, such as browsing Facebook. According to lead researcher Gloria Mark:

“When you get less sleep, you’re more prone to distraction…. If you’re being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It’s lightweight, it’s easy, and you’re tired.”

Mark and her team found that the less sleep students had, the more frequently their attention shifted among different computer screens, suggesting heightened distractibility.

The UCI researchers say their results reveal a direct link among chronic lack of sleep, worsening mood and greater reliance on Facebook browsing. The Pittsburgh researchers say high social media use is linked to sleep disturbances. So lack of sleep can cause higher social media use, which, in turn, can cause sleep problems, which, in turn, can cause… a spiralling problem. The question now becomes how best to break the spiral.