Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Facebook admits its sociopathic side. Are social media the drug epidemic of our times?

An article by Farhad Manjoo notes that Facebook itself has pointed to work by Shakya and Christakis showing that overall the use of Facebook is negatively associated with well-being. From Shakya and Christakis:
For example, a 1-standard-deviation increase in “likes clicked” (clicking “like” on someone else's content), “links clicked” (clicking a link to another site or article), or “status updates” (updating one's own Facebook status) was associated with a decrease of 5%–8% of a standard deviation in self-reported mental health.
At the same time, work by Burke and Kraut suggests the effect of Facebook use on well-being depends on whether communication is passive (clicking "like" or on links) or more meaningful and active (actually engaging in back and forth conversations with friends important to the user). The latter use improves people's scores on well-being.

The ongoing debate is a useful one, particularly in light of suggestions that social media are a major drug epidemic of our times, addicting us to “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops” that “are destroying how society works.”

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