Unhappy Facebook Users – Marketers and Academics are looking in the wrong place.
Every single day they publish articles about why social media is bad for us. Every day they ignore that we meet people via social media rather than bars. Every day they ignore that those I meet through social media work on interesting projects. Every day they ignore that if it wasn’t for social websites I would not have taken up via Ferrata, rock climbing and other sports.
Every day they assume that we prefer alcohol, weed and hard drugs rather than textroverted conversations with people we get to feel comfortable with online, before meeting them in person.
Do you really think that Facebook users would be happy sitting at a bar with a half empty glass of alcohol?
The findings? Using Facebook was tightly linked to compromised social, physical and psychological health. For example, for each statistical jump (away from the average) in “liking” other people’s posts, clicking their links or updating one’s own status, there was a 5% to 8% increase in the likelihood that the person would later experience mental-health problems.
The article doesn’t spend a single word discussing introversion and geographic locations as reasons for people to socialise more via Facebook than in face to face meetings. If you’re not the happy go lucky, soul of the party, then do you have much motivation to socialising in the physical world where you listen to conversations without being heard?
Still, there are some nuances to consider. Why would online social activity be so damaging to health and well-being in this study when the same activity was found to be correlated with longevity in a 2016 study co-written by Prof. Christakis? The bottom line, he says, is that replacing in-person interactions with online contact can be a threat to your mental health. “What people really need is real friendships and real interactions,” he adds.
Online social activity is not damaging to health and well-being. It is not because you socialise online that you do not have fun in the real world. The article ignores that the nefast nature of social media comes from marketing and public relations. Social media is all about the conversations. The more conversations you have with people the happier you are. If you’re a passive follower of people of brands then, of course, you’ll felt left out and alone. Academics, marketers and public relations people should study how best to make brands conversational and warm rather than cold and utilitarian.
Do we want to follow brands on Facebook that post the same message twice a day for weeks in a row? Of course not. We want brands on FB and other social networks to provide us with the adventures they’ve been on. Look at Crosscall, Petzl, Mammut and other brands. I follow them because I like to see the videos, the photographs and the stories they tell. I like it to be an ongoing conversation.
At this moment I have no concrete plans to go to New Zealand and yet I follow Wildwire Wanaka because they reflect my passion for Via Ferrata.
Facebook and other social media platforms are conversational tools for people planning trips, preparing for events or simply keeping in touch with university and school friends, colleagues and more. If academics and marketers took the time to understand why people use social media they would see that they are an enhancement to our social lives rather than a replacement. We build relationships and collaborations through social media.