Most of my research seeks out ways we can cultivate social media habits that steer us towards positive emotional health outcomes and away from loneliness and misery. This clever video is much shorter than my dissertation and has more pretty pictures:
Great guardian piece here on how excessive consumerism might be responsible for some of the loneliness and social isolation felt in developed nations. Great stuff for pushing back against the idea that looking out only for oneself is the best way to go through life. We flourish in community!
New article here in the journal Computers in Human Behavior used focus groups and interviews to find that Snapchat is used for closer relationships (strong ties) and not for strangers or acquaintances (weak ties). Is there a point of diminishing returns for using Snapchat even with your closest friends? And does using it with strangers have any benefit at all in terms of social support?
Good article on Huff Po Here about the importance of doing things alone. In our modern culture that seems to cultivate/worship/lionize business, it is increasingly rare—and thus more rewarding—when we DO spend some time alone. I know surfing and running are some of the only real solo times I get where I can get lost in my thoughts. Biking/walking to and from campus every day is nice, but it’s only a few minutes each way. I think my best ideas come after the 40-minute mark on runs.
Of course, since we always have our phones on us, it’s all too easy to get pulled out of zone-out-cognitive-freedom area and back into BZZZ! Oh I got a work email! I should really contact so-and-so…
Cool Science of Us article here about how a little loneliness can actually be a good thing. When we are hungry, we know that is our body’s way of telling us to go get food. Thinking about loneliness in the same way helps us realize that loneliness isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own—it’s when we don’t do anything about it that it becomes a problem. If we can use loneliness as fuel to prompt us to engage with others in a meaningful way, then perhaps it can be a net-positive (or at least neutral) feeling in the long run.
Bella DePaulo wrote this post for Psychology Today about a study that found single people were less lonely than their cohabiting counterparts, controlling for income. This goes against much of the research on loneliness that suggests people who live with others (romantic or not) are less likely to be afflicted by it. I suppose if someone lives along, they might make more of an effort to be deliberate about the time they DO spend maintaining relationships, as opposed to someone who lives with others—even with a spouse—and ends up coasting through their day without actually connecting with another human being.
Of course, the study was done using Germans, so who knows what conclusions we can actually draw…
Great New York magazine article here on how loneliness might be something we can inherit. There are many factors (extroversion, social support, living arrangement) that go into how we experience and process the feeling of being lonely, so perhaps it should be unsurprising that at least part of the phenomenon comes from our DNA (internal causes) and not just our circumstances (external causes).
A new study reveals that people who post photos with certain characteristics (specific filters like “inkwell” that makes pictures more blue, dark, and gray) are more likely to be depressed. It’s definitely worth a read, and here is the full spectrum of filter use:
In terms of social connection, image-based platforms like Snapchat and Instagram help us feel more connected to our friends than text-based platforms. In research I published with my colleague Brandon Reich, we found that the more image platforms people used, the more their loneliness went down and happiness went up.
The following two heat maps of responses helps to illustrate these differences. People were asked why they used certain platforms. The first image is a heat map of the most commonly used words describing image platform use; the second is for text platforms. Can you see any differences that might explain why images help connect us more?
Sherry Turkle has been studying technology and human connectedness for decades, and her interview with The Atlantic about the importance of conversation is great.