I Share Therefore I Am

This video presents a hypothesis that I don’t entirely agree with, but does touch on the sociological implications of social media at the expense of “real” relationships.


There is little doubt that there are those who hide behind online persona rather than facing the trials and tribulations of the ‘real world’. But equally there are others who use social media to advantage; expanding their already formed networks and staying in touch with old friends. 

Some sad cases who have very few friends have to pretend that they do, to keep up with the small circle that they actually have.

Not that I am recommending taking this course of action to the extremes of the Japanese photographer (right), who faked a romantic attachment by using Instagram, a smartphone and dollop of nail polish!

A sad lad maybe but I guess he was really just making a point.  See his full account here and turn on Google’s translation if you can’t read Japanese.

Apparently overuse of Facebook can be totally depressing.  A study by  the University of Michigan over a two week period resulted in Facebook participants  experiencing a darkening of mood the more they browsed the social medium.  The sample of 82 college-aged volunteers was large enough to get a reasonable result.  As media has reported, this is the core demographic among Facebook’s nearly 700 million active daily users.

University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross said: “Loneliness predicted Facebook use, and loneliness also predicted how bad people felt. But the effect of Facebook on how people felt was independent of loneliness.

So what may you well ask is causing this sinking feeling after excessive exposure to Facebook?  According to The Economist the University of Michigan study didn’t really address the differences between socialising on Facebook and socialising in person.  The paper  suggests the answer to social media depression is  one of green-eyed envy.

An earlier investigation, conducted by social scientists at Humboldt University and Darmstadt’s Technical University, both in Germany, may have found the root cause. These researchers found that the most common emotion aroused by using Facebook is envy. Endlessly comparing themselves with peers who have doctored their photographs, amplified their achievements and plagiarised their bons mots can leave Facebook’s users more than a little green-eyed. Real-life encounters, by contrast, are more WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)”.

One wonders if reading blogs on a regular basis has the same effect?  I suspect not, but to play it safe I will think twice about promoting this post on Facebook – it might be too depressing to contemplate!

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is an international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region. http://thedigitalconsultant.blogspot.com
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