IT is now official. Scholars have analyzed the data and confirmed what we already knew in our hearts. Social media is making us miserable.
We are all dimly aware that everybody else can’t possibly be as successful, rich, attractive, relaxed, intellectual and joyous as they appear to be on Facebook. Yet we can’t help comparing our inner lives with the curated lives of our friends.
Just how different is the real world from the world on social media? In the real world, The National Enquirer, a weekly, sells nearly three times as many copies as The Atlantic, a monthly, every year. On Facebook, The Atlantic is 45 times more popular.
Americans spend about six times as much of their time cleaning dishes as they do golfing. But there are roughly twice as many tweets reporting golfing as there are tweets reporting doing the dishes.
The Las Vegas budget hotel Circus Circus and the luxurious hotel Bellagio each holds about the same number of people. But the Bellagio gets about three times as many check-ins on Facebook.
The search for online status takes some peculiar twists. Facebook works with an outside company to gather data on the cars people actually own. Facebook also has data on the cars people associate with by posting about them or by liking them.
Owners of luxury cars like BMWs and Mercedeses are about two and a half times as likely to announce their affiliation on Facebook as are owners of ordinary makes and models.
In the United States, the desire to show off and exaggerate wealth is universal. Caucasians, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are all two to three times as likely to associate on Facebook with a luxury car they own than with a non-luxury car they own.
But different people in different places can have different notions of what is cool and what is embarrassing. Take musical taste. According to 2014 data from Spotify Insights on what people actually listen to, men and women have similar tastes; 29 of the 40 musicians women listened to most frequently were also the artists most frequently listened to by men.
On Facebook, though, men seem to underplay their interest in artists considered more feminine. For example, on Spotify, Katy Perry was the 10th most listened to artist among men, beating Bob Marley, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa. But those other artists all have more male likes on Facebook.
The pressure to look a certain way on social media can do much more than distort our image of the musicians other people actually listen to.
Sufferers of various illnesses are increasingly using social media to connect with others and to raise awareness about their diseases. But if a condition is considered embarrassing, people are less likely to publicly associate themselves with it.
Irritable bowel syndrome and migraines are similarly prevalent, each affecting around 10 percent of the American population. But migraine sufferers have built Facebook awareness and support groups two and a half times larger than I.B.S. sufferers have.
None of this behavior is all that new, although the form it takes is. Friends have always showed off to friends. People have always struggled to remind themselves that other people don’t have it as easy as they claim.
Think of the aphorism quoted by members of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” Of course, this advice is difficult to follow. We never see other people’s insides.
I have actually spent the past five years peeking into people’s insides. I have been studying aggregate Google search data. Alone with a screen and anonymous, people tend to tell Google things they don’t reveal to social media; they even tell Google things they don’t tell to anybody else. Google offers digital truth serum. The words we type there are more honest than the pictures we present on Facebook or Instagram.
Sometimes the contrasts in different data sources are amusing. Consider how wives speak about their husbands.
On social media, the top descriptors to complete the phrase “My husband is …” are “the best,” “my best friend,” “amazing,” “the greatest” and “so cute.” On Google, one of the top five ways to complete that phrase is also “amazing.” So that checks out. The other four: “a jerk,” “annoying,” “gay” and “mean.”
While spending five years staring at a computer screen learning about some of human beings’ strangest and darkest thoughts may not strike most people as a good time, I have found the honest data surprisingly comforting. I have consistently felt less alone in my insecurities, anxieties, struggles and desires.
Once you’ve looked at enough aggregate search data, it’s hard to take the curated selves we see on social media too seriously. Or, as I like to sum up what Google data has taught me: We’re all a mess.
Now, you may not be a data scientist. You may not know how to code in R or calculate a confidence interval. But you can still take advantage of big data and digital truth serum to put an end to envy — or at least take some of the bite out of it.
Any time you are feeling down about your life after lurking on Facebook, go to Google and start typing stuff into the search box. Google’s autocomplete will tell you the searches other people are making. Type in “I always …” and you may see the suggestion, based on other people’s searches, “I always feel tired” or “I always have diarrhea.” This can offer a stark contrast to social media, where everybody “always” seems to be on a Caribbean vacation.
As our lives increasingly move online, I propose a new self-help mantra for the 21st century, courtesy of big data: Don’t compare your Google searches with other people’s Facebook posts.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is an economist, the author of “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are” and a contributing opinion writer.
nbsp;15 hours ago
Linked In is just as bad. I can't bring myself to use the overworked adjectives put in job descriptions on my resume, in a cover letter, or even in a comment that I post on Facebook. The rule I use on Facebook and email is this: if I don't want to say it to the person when I see him or her I don't post it. I use Facebook to converse with some people that I've never met except through a poem I may have had published or some other way.
Our lives are not lived on Facebook. We live lives in homes, in stores, in school, on the job, at the gym, at the pool, etc. Facebook and other social media are the places we can use to share, carefully. But Facebook life is not real life. Real life is getting up in the morning to go to school, work, feed the baby, walk the dog, whatever. Real life is not filled with amazing best friends. It's work, play, love, sadness, hatred, longing. My advice about Facebook and other social media is to be careful, not believe everything that's posted, and get out for a few hours to live.
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Janice Nelson is a trusted commenter Park City 12 hours ago
You write that people should google things so they feel better. That things posted on Facebook and such are many times fiction. But what I really think people need to do is get off of social media and out in the world more. People cannot fake it as much in person.
Christine McM is a trusted commenter Massachusetts 14 hours ago
I'm too old for Facebook. Oh, sure, I have a bunch of "friends," which really means, I have acquaintances because most of my closest friends aren't on FB. I only post when I'm traveling or have some photos to share, and no, I don't even check it every day. Usually it's just a rolling billboard of second hand ads "so and so likes the New Yorker"--it's really sick when so and so is already dead.
What I do check every day, and in fact, often every hour or more, is the NYT and the Washington Post. Yeah, I'm a political and international news junkie. Thus my Google searches tend to be fact checking assertions, looking up some historical fact (that I should know but am too far gone to recall--"Google" is truly the baby boomers' memory jogger), checking out some disease symptom, or searching to see if actors are still alive.
Mundane? Yes. But Facebook or no Facebook, most people are mundane. And boring as shoeshine. In fact, I don't even what to know what THEIR Google searches are.
In the age of TMI, that much is really too much information.
Jonathan is a trusted commenter Oronoque 11 hours ago
I am not, and will never be, a member of Facebook.
On the internet, I find the private groups I belong to are much more interesting. The general public can't see what we do or read our discussions, and everybody knows each other pretty well, so there's much less posing and more substance.
Mark Lebow is a trusted commenter Milwaukee, WI 11 hours ago
I do many of the same things my Facebook friends do: go to restaurants, go to movies, travel, or just sit outside and enjoy the weather. I just don't feel the need to post any of this stuff on Facebook, because the tacit approval of the people with whom I do these things is enough.
I'll say this much for Facebook, though: because I put BBC News at the top of my feed, any dubious stories shared from dubious sites have no power to convince me. I just skate past them.
Anne-Marie Hislop is a trusted commenter Chicago 14 hours ago
Huh. Facebook doesn't bother me in the least. I take people's posts as everything from wish to discuss politics, theology & ministry (my field), to the modern-day version of the "Grandma brag-book" which my parent's generation had. I participate in discussions, click like under the latest photo of the cute grand-kids and move on.
Mark Thomason is a trusted commenter Clawson, Mich 14 hours ago
You are reading the wrong people on Facebook.
One of my cousins uses it to document her son's struggles in the hospital.
Another documents her serial disasters, as with camping trailers, all hope beyond experience. It is at least funny.
Another spreads the word of dealing with addiction, as a counselor now.
None of them has discussed a Caribbean vacation. We'd all know they were lying the moment we saw it anyway, since we know them and get together when distance allows.
So who are others reading anyway?
63Recommend NYT Pick
Eon NY 2 hours ago
It's been about two years since I last logged into Facebook. As a 23-year-old, I didn't get to experience much of the pre-social media world. I thought the way I represented myself on social media would determine who I was, so I built up a facade of witty tweets, and 'candid' Instagram photos (which in reality might have taken twenty minutes to capture). I was trying to build myself the personality I wanted, and I thought if people saw that online, it would be true.
I ended up going off the grid for a week while traveling, and that was when it dawned on me how fake it all was. I barely use social media these days, and I feel a certain sense of freedom as a result. I learned how to be genuinely happy, the kind that doesn't require 'likes' to be valid. And viewing the world through an Instagram filter for too long can make it easy to forget what that is.
Don is a trusted commenter PA 3 hours ago
In Reply to Jonathan
15Recommend NYT Pick
Sheena NY 2 hours ago
I recently deleted my Facebook profile after having the profile for about three or four years. I found that Facebook was driving me crazy because I tried to be a conscientious poster and respond to many of the posts of my "friends" on Facebook. I gave regular likes and added comments when I had enough time. But so few of these "friends" reciprocated when I posted that I grew annoyed. The only time I got a lot of comments or likes was when I finished my PhD. Then many "friends," who had never commented on my posts previously, wished me well on my achievement. But then, once again, there was no follow up after that. I just got tired of so many one-sided relationships that I ended my painful Facebook account and now I just have face-to-face friendships. It may not be perfect either, but at least my face-to-face friendships are not one-sided.
Paul Sandy Hook, NJ 2 hours ago
The timing of this article is extremely apropos to me because just one week ago I decided to stop going onto Facebook. As a struggling older person who cobbles odd jobs together to replace what was once a thriving corporate employment, it was too depressing for me to see how good my friends, siblings, and their 20- and 30-something children were doing compared to me (eating out, going on vacations, fixing their homes, etc.). I have discovered two things: First, I am less depressed because I am living more monadically instead of comparatively. Second, I have about 20 additional hours per week that I never realized were there.
Tony Boston 2 hours ago
I think of it as FakeBook and I wonder how many people feel compelled to keep up with the virtual Jonses by going to expensive restaurants or taking expensive vacations just to impress others.
All that being said, I recognize that it can be a wonderful tool for families separated by distance to stay in touch with close friends, children's and grandchildren's lives. But a Facetime or phone call is immensely better to keep strong bonds with those you really care about.
THW VA 2 hours ago
A generation of people are growing up with no understanding or realization of the intrinsic value of anything. The external scorecard is now omnipresent and updated in real time, and despite its inaccuracies in reporting, it provides the prism through which people who have grown up exclusively in the digital age view their world. How something is (or will be) viewed and interpreted on the external scorecard of social media now seemingly more important than how it is viewed and scored on the inner scorecard in realtime.
Paul Joseph New Hyde Park, NY 2 hours ago
It feels as if the amount of time grown men and women spend on Facebook, just to limit discussion of social media, is equivalent to the amount of time those same men and women spent slack-jawed in front of a television when they were kids. Now those televisions are tiny, portable, deliciously addictive, and interactive to a pretty stunning degree, leading to a personal, individual, tailored, curated experience. So while I'd like to complain (like my father used to) about this addictive technology leaching away our immediate experience of the real world, I'm more astonished -- and I really am! -- by the intense individualistic nature of our media experience. It can't be overstated. Look at the comments here, like comments in any comment field, which only serve to reinforce how individual we're becoming. How siloed and blinkered our perspectives can get, saying, in effect, Let me always be able to tell friends and strangers about my experience. Even though this article is about social phenomena, affecting large swaths of our neighbors and strangers around the world, let me focus on why that does or doesn't apply to me, and me, and me. News of Russian meddling in the US election, for example, could fail to get traction since people now judge "news" for whether it tells the truth about them, applies to them. So thank you, Facebook, not for making us lonely -- though you're doing a bang-up job, according to the stats -- but for making us even less-self aware.
Facebook makes me miserable. Photos of happy people with kids on expensive vacations, with beautiful friends at big parties, completing triathlons, getting married etc. I do feel happy for my friends but I also can't help but feel my life is awful by comparison. And who knows maybe it is. But quitting Facebook is not as easy as one would think — it is the only practical way to stay connected with many people, and for them to stay connected with you. Has Facebook made my life better? No. It's made it worse. But it's made living a Facebook-free life even worse because one is essentially cut off from the larger online community (that used not to exist).
sandhillgarden Gainesville, FL
I think this depends on your friends and their purposes in using Facebook. I rarely hear about perfect homes and children. Rather, I get pleas to adopt stray animals, rants about Trump, the latest woes about diet or health crises, and efforts at bolstering courage through religious faith. I also hear about wonderful meals and recipes, wry comments about life in general, progress on houses being built by hand, the antics of pets, amazement over the latest observation of a toddler, a new book/song/play published, anniversaries of historical events, pictures of trips in France and Bangkok in real time, pleas for donations from people in crises everywhere, and the latest column by Gail Collins. None of this makes me miserable, except for the constant updates on the scary ways that Trump and his minions are toying with us.
Why is the list of races in the order of Caucasians, Asian Americans, African Americans And Hispanic Americans? It's not alphabetical or by population numbers or by median income or by social media usage. For example, why are Caucasians listed first -- they are third alphabetically, second for median income, second for social media use, and first only for population. And if we are going by population, then after Caucasians should be Hispanics, then Blacks, then Asians. I'm Asian and I found this ordering weird and reflective of a desire to use Asians as a buffer between white people and darker people of color. Maybe the ordering was subconsciously done, but it is nevertheless odious. If a response is, it was random and an order is necessary by nature of language, try to think about why that order seems random to you.
Case Hugh Chicago
What always baffles (and saddens) me about Facebook is when I and can see the difference between a polished online presentation and the messy offline reality.
For example: a friend will visit her mother and have a horribly dysfunctional weekend. Fights. Tears. Name calling. Hours later, the mother uploads a staged smiling selfie and comments on the wonderful few days she spent with her daughter. The post receives three likes.
What does this do to the human psyche and our sense of community when we all consider each moment with our family and friends not as an opportunity to connect, but rather one to document and show off?
Diane Salisbury Ca
Thank you for your valuable article and work. False advertising, aka "marketing," has left no area of modern life uncorrupted. Now retired, I said often that one of the greatest gifts to me personally from being a psychologist in Manhattan over many years, with a clientele that included celebrities, the wealthy and successfull , was realizing how we all , despite outer appearances, have burdens we privately bear, baggage we secretly carry. So many believe Trump because lying, aka marketing, has replaced our grounding in and fidelity to the value of truth- telling. Neither my son nor myself participate in facebook or social media. He survived high school as the only student in the school not on Facebook( no smart phone either!) He was extremely popular- well-liked, respectful, funny, star athlete, salutatorian.
Facebook is one of the most negative influences to have ever entered our lives. And Zuckerberg laughed all the way to the bank with it.
Fortunately, now, people are waking up to the negativity of Facebook, the extreme damage it has done, the extreme damage it continues to do.
Activist organizations are now being asked to disavow themselves from Facebook and using Facebook. Such organizations are now being asked to help rid society of Facebook. Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later. Facebook needs to be consigned to the toxic wastebins of history such as deep saltcaves in which radioactive nuclear waste is deposited for time everlasting.
Jennifer Stewart NY
I found this very comforting. I often experience deep depression and bouts of poverty and I never tell anybody because the shame is so profound.
I'm in one of those places now; my mind isn't functioning properly, tsunamis of fear roll over me every few minutes. I don't want to tell anybody—even writing this comment and being truthful raises huge conflict in me. All the messages in my head say that I shouldn't bother anybody, I shouldn't visit my problems on others, I should take it to a doctor or a therapist.
I don't have the resources to do that, so I go from minute to minute, fearing that I only have one option. I've read of so many stories of people who commit suicide and they're either judged for being selfish, or their friends and family say they didn't know. Didn't know, or didn't want to know?
So maybe Facebook is the truthful illustration of the real world, the main premise of which is that by the time we're adults we're supposed to be able to take care of ourselves. But there are millions of us who can't do it at all, or who can only do it in fits and starts.
The shame of that is what drives us to pretend. And to seek the anonymity of Google. And it drives people to suicide.
Joseph Hanania New York,
NYThe single most depressing phenomena I have found is people walking round NYC (or driving in LA) but not being aware of who is around them or where they are. Rather they are in this internet twilight world, taking photos of their food to show to people who are not there, having exchanges with disembodied individuals via "likes" etc.
On a recent trip to Colombia, what struck home the most was that people looked me in the eye when talking. With the internet rare there, with many not even having email accounts, they were really present in their lives. A conversation was not just taking a few seconds off between Facebook posts.
I don't think we, as a society, have gained much by the ubiquity of the internet, and Facebook. Instead, we are losing the ability to truly relate, human to human. And we are blindsiding those coming up now, who don't know the real life alternatives we knew. All most of them know is this internet-focused reality. And so, not knowing, they don't really have a choice; Facebook and the internet are their world, lessening their ability to truly relate. And, I think, they don't stand much of a chance.
T Montoya ABQ
FB is useful for keeping in touch with the second and third-tier friends in life. The ones that drift away due to time constraints or other priorities that come along. I use it sparingly but without it I never would have reconnected with friends from my childhood.
Sev Iyama Mojave, California
It's so funny. Due to the fact, that in the past, I have been involved in dog rescue, I have over 1400 "friends." But in real life, I can count them and name less than five. Facebook has actually made me more distant from family from whom I was estranged to begin with. It's so much easier to write a superficial, Happy birthday to my sister, than to really delve into our distant relationship.
I have also distanced myself from the dog rescue people, because most of them are competitive and mean to one another. Its time for me to take a break from Facebook because honestly, like the article said, FB makes me miserable.
J West of Boston
It takes a village to enforce cultural standards and social media is the new village. People are afraid to invoke it's wrath by sharing their actual reality. It's much easier to mine those "Likes" by posting the same banalities over and over along with a healthy dollop of envy inducing vacation/car/family pics.
CJ Jonesborough, TN
While you make good points about not comparing reality with an ideal or fantasy presented by others, let's not throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. I have a couple of people close to me who swore off of one version or another of social media. They swear that they are happier. I have become an intermediary between them and social media when a mutual friend wants to contact them or share something. I love being able to maintain contact with friends from decades ago and watch family members grow and age through pictures on their pages. Another AA slogan is "the only normal people are the one's you don't know very well." Maybe we should pay attention to how real we are being online. "To thine own self be true."
We created this monster. We all bought in to what marketing and advertising tells us to cherish: luxury cars, Caribbean vacations, fancy houses.
FB perpetuates these fantasies via millions of people who post their "mythological" selves based on these codes of what we've been brainwashed to believe is important and valuable.
But all of us have the power to reclaim what's truly important in life. Doing that requires stepping away from the screen and stepping back into the real world.
Larry D New York City
In late December 2016 I was rushed to the hospital with a hole in my Esophagus. Deadly stomach acids were leaking out and this condition is usually fatal within 24 hours if not immediately operated on. I posted a plea on Facebook for friends far & wide to send healing thoughts, prayers, picture me in their minds eye recovering. To my surprise when I finally checked Facebook days after the successful surgery over 500 people sent messages of hope, love, prayers, healing- from New York to Brazil, to, Dallas to, Hong Kong, Moscow to Hawaii. I believe as quantum physics prove that all existence if energy and information. The healing sent to me my over 500 people I believe saved my life. I am here today because a network of people held hands spiritually and sent their hearts and minds for recovery my way. That is enough for me to endure all the political ratings, holiday pictures of feet by a pool/ocean, endless cute baby photos, etc. Facebook helped in part- to save my life. Period.
Bobbi M Colorado
A few months ago I permanently deleted my Facebook account, in an attempt to omit useless digital noise from my life. Sure, I lost "contact" -- superficial contact -- with some acquaintances. But my true loved ones remain in my life in ways far more meaningful and authentic than through social media. Facebook is a time-wasting life suck, a vehicle for cheapening information and ceaselessly shoving fake news down the throats of those too busy or lazy to pay attention or think critically, and a portal for advertisers to be in your face 24/7. No thanks.
J Jencks Portland
" Google offers digital truth serum. The words we type there are more honest than the pictures we present on Facebook or Instagram."
It's one thing to identify successfully the various behaviors of people. It's another thing to ascribe correctly the motivation behind those behaviors.
A certain amount of what people post on Facebook may not be so much "dishonest", as implied in the quote above, as aspirational.
As scientists and researchers it's extremely important to recognize when we are moving from objective organization of information into a subjective interpretation of it.
Personally I don't share my tummy aches and grey moods with everybody I cross on Facebook, because I don't want to bring them down when I'm in a somewhat lugubrious state. However, when I'm having a wonderful day, going on a bike ride through central France to visit chateaus, not only do I share it on Facebook but I blog about it as well.
I don't do this to brag about my wonderful life (which it isn't. It is average). I do it to share the joy I am experiencing, in the hopes I will bring a bit of joy into the lives of my circle.
i.e. human psychology is complex and highly variable. Tread carefully when making generalizations.
Angela Elk Grove, Ca
Call me old fashion or a Luddite but I have limited the amount of personal information on Facebook and don't go on it very often. Everyday there are more revelations about how Facebook is using personal information for its own financial gain. No thanks. I also don't have a twitter account and refuse to spend my time following other people's stream of consciousness postings.
To the news media - please stop reporting on Trump's tweets as if they are some sort of official presidential (ugh!) communication. They are not. If you ignore them perhaps both they and he will go away.
BillFNYC New York
It's an interesting area. I joined Facebook initially to reconnect with old classmates. Once that happened, it got dull pretty quickly. With Google, I do search things relevant to what's going on in my life, but I think I search more often to learn more about something i read or heard, or to find out about something that may be affecting someone else I know. This is particularly true with respect to diseases, addictions, and other parts of life that affect us all in one way or another. I wonder if these analyses are able to adjust for that or are there assumptions made when compiling the data? Either way, there is a lot of information on us out there, which doesn't bother me on its face. It would be interesting to know if and how this information is used against individuals. I think I'll look it up on Google.
Mr. Murdock NYC
How bout the News making us miserable? I see more good things in my FB feed that are happening in the world than I ever could find in a any newspaper and that is also by design. Bad news sells better than good news. Keep us on our feet, keep us anxious, make us fear. Especially this last election season, the reporting on Hillary Clinton and Trump to the neglect of Bernie Sanders was more than depressing and the reality of that outcome in many ways due to such manipulated presentations would be a much more interesting OPED. At least FB like television, is experienced uniquely (to some degree) by each user, who carves their individual experience either by remote in hand or clicking 'like', however sad that is. Newspaper feeds of highly selected glorified misery are simply just shoveled down your throat.
I only joined fb last year to reconnect with long distance family/friends. A complete waste of time, otherwise. All I see is a bunch of people arguing with each other over not only politics, but health issues, etc. Stupid.
I skip over a lot of feeds, even for groups I voluntarily signed up for. I've had to disengage from and outright withdraw from several groups already--and those were the so called health groups who had members/moderators promoting their special products ad infinitum. Nonsense. I'm disgusted with it all.
Google searches don't necessarily represent a person's life and interests -- not mine at least. I'm a medical writer and I use google searches to find expert information on diseases or conditions that I'm writing about, or to clarify certain medical terms and terminology. Also, many of my friends and family members ask me for help when they have an illness because they know that I can clarify what the experts report in simple language.
If anyone (or any insurance company) tried to use my Google searches to understand me, they would conclude that I have multiple types of brain tumors, deafness, tinnitus, Lou Gehrig's disease, Lewy body disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, spinal paralysis, atrial fibrillation, irritable bowel syndrome, foot fungus, etc, etc.
Inquisigal Brooklyn NY
I would actually say that there have been enough instances of identity theft, password and data hacking, and even last week - warnings by experts not to list the 10 concerts you've been to on Facebook - that more people are starting to wise up about not putting more of their lives "online." I actually hope people heed the warnings and start making smarter choices about what is worth posting and viewing.
Personally, I enjoy posting comments and getting into discussions online about news or opinion topics - but I've been going backwards, in terms of using social media. I just don't find it emotionally or intellectually nourishing. I don't care what an acquaintance made for dinner. I don't need to see a photo of a high school classmate's kid at Disneyworld. If I only have an hour a day to devote to reading, I'd rather read a piece written by a professional writer. When I crave my friends or family - hanging out in person, talking by phone, having a text chat, or taking the time to write a one-one-one email feels so much better and more real. I'm tired of reading 140 character broadcasts that don't involve having an actual nourishing relationship with others. None of us can truly devote the time, support and honesty needed to maintain "friendships" with 200 "friends" - let alone 4,000 "followers." It eliminates true conversation, and social skills - which we need to maintain as a society.
Barbara Steinberg Reno, NV
There is no such thing as privacy on the net, especially social media. The sys admins see everything. FB searches; private messages, where people might talk about an illness. Many people curate art blogs, photography blogs on FB. I am part of a community of ethnic jewelry enthusiasts and collectors.
When the Internet first started, communities appeared without a marketing person in sight. Then the capitalist business model decreed that hundreds of millions of members were needed to support a network to make community possible, so it morphed into social media. What are you supposed to say to a billion people? I washed my dishes?
Jana Hayden Maui, Hawaii
This article seems somewhat divorced from reality. The posts on Facebook and Twitter may have been all about social events and vacations last year or the year before that. Now, except for the occasional kids birthday party or cute cat video, most comments are heated political discussion. Not just among friends. It is good to see passionate exchanges of opinions and even arguments! I feel that the current political climate has brought out what is important to the forefront of most people's minds!
Eric Thompson Healdsburg, CA
A fascinating research project. Really. Every such study I encounter confirms my resolve not to participate is social media. I wonder if we'll ever see a large scale defection. I wonder if privacy will ever return. It perplexes and bewilders me that so many millions willing give up privacy for this plastic profile on Facebook. Tell us more. Google is a useful tool, but I'll be content to stay off Facebook.
The twin joys of being an ex-Facebook user: not having the slightest pressure to buff some life event into a post for others' consumption and not reading others' curatorial attempts. Indeed, I can barely stand to read the examples in this article. No judging of others' choices here, just saying that my own life is better without those interactions.