Are Social Media Friends Real?
Doctor Bono welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. It's my pleasure to be here. Well, we're very excited. Obviously social media's everywhere social media's here to say, why do you think that it's such a hot topic? Well. I. Think. Part of the reason it's become a hot topic is because it has become so pervasive in the culture if you look at the stats from the Pew Research Organization or other groups that collect data on this in overwhelmingly large number of people are on social media and are using it frequently, and it's also something that is relatively new and so with something that has become so much a part of our culture in our day to day way of interacting with one another that has posed a question too many people of to what extent is this actually affecting us and is it having an? Impact on other things that are occurring such as increasing rates of depression and anxiety and other forms of mental distress. We know that both of those have been increasing simultaneously over the last decade and the question is well is one of them causing the other and I think a lot of people have become curious about that. One of the things that I always think about whenever these conversations crop up in the media is that it seems like every new thing is bad for us I remember when the Internet first started I'm that age so I remember before the Internet and then after the Internet so the Internet Starts at the first thing that everybody talks about. Oh. This is going to connect us like never before this wonderful, and then it only took a few months before everybody was like the Internet is horrible. There's it's just filled with pornography and fighting, and this was all before social media and then everybody hated the Internet. Now the Internet is back to being powerful and social media is what we hate. Do you think that this is just a trend? Just a theme that everything new at first is exciting and good, and then immediately becomes bad and then it will balance out. It's the nature of almost anything. In the world that nothing is entirely good or entirely bad and often what captures our attention initially is the novelty in the exciting parts and other really cool features of something. But inevitably, over time we come to realize that it also comes with some negative things. It's not used appropriately. So yeah, I. I do think that initially our attention is drawn to the positive things but it's just like anything else as you say with the internet or a hundred years ago or more wind cars I came onto the scene they were initially this really cool way to connect people and do your business more efficiently and more. Effectively, but we realized Oh wait a second. If cars are not used under the appropriate conditions and they procreate circumstances, they can actually be really harmful. So the solution has never been. Okay. Let's get rid of this thing. Let's get rid of the internet or let's get rid of cars but let's think about how to be wise consumers of this and I think that that is where we're at when it comes to social media I don't know of any psychologists were saying, let's get rid of social media but instead let's bring awareness to the fact that if it's not used correctly, it could have some harmful. Effects on us, and it's worthwhile for us to bring attention to those things I really like what you're saying there. No. One of the other themes that comes up all of these conversations is social media is bad because it's addictive. I. Think. It's pretty clear that social media can be very addictive. So kind of don't want to discuss whether or not it's addictive. Let's assume that it is addictive. Why is it so addictive part of the reason why social media so addictive is because there's so much uncertainty about what content we're going to be seeing as soon as we log in and that's something that economists and. Psychologists and neuroscientists have known for a long time that part of what makes anything addictive is the maybe factor that maybe when we go on, we're GonNa see something cute or funny or something that is irritating or frustrating or we're going to see are crazy uncles political post that's GonNa make us really upset and it's the same reason why people become addicted to the slot machines in Las Vegas because maybe when they pull the lever of that slot machine, there's GonNa be a big payoff but maybe there isn't and it is that uncertainty that curiosity that keeps people going back more and more it's the reason. Why people addicted to slot machines but not vending machines in both cases you're putting money in, but it's the one where there's certainty of reward. You know that you're going to get that bag of potato chips at the vending machine but you don't know if you're going to get a reward at the slot machine and it's the same underlying mechanism that keeps us going back more and more to instagram or facebook or snapchat because every time you log on, you don't know what you're gonna see even if we know intellectually it's a waste of time that curiosity and the uncertainty keeps us going back more and more. A lot of social media platforms refer to your followers as friends. We have so many friends on facebook for. Is having a lot of friends or followers on social media is the same as having that many friends in real life it's not really the same thing because for a lot of people, they'll tell you that they don't even know all the people that they haven't even met in person all the people who are following them or who they are quote friends with on these platforms. We do know that from a psychological perspective arguably, the single strongest predictor of our happiness has to do with the quality friendships and relationships that we have with other people, but we're talking about. The three dimensional people you spend time with and who you develop an authentic relationship with and on social media very often those relationships are very superficial and they don't get much beyond a like or a comment or share or re tweet or something, and that's not really the basis of a long lasting relationship with someone who will be there for you. If you're going through a rough time and you need a shoulder to lean on if you're having a really good day and. You need someone to sort of help you extend the positivity and share that happiness with very often those followers and quote relationships on social media are just too superficial and it's much more worthwhile to develop and invest your time and effort in those relationships that are with the people who you're interacting with more meaningfully on a day-to-day basis.