If you’re reading this post right now, it’s probably because you were on social media. I mean, we’re always on social media, aren’t we? According to MarketingCharts.com, Americans ages 18-64 say they spend an average of 3.2 hours per day on social media. And I’m willing to bet some people spend more time than that and just haven’t reported it.
As someone who deals with social media on a daily basis, I often wonder how much is too much. I sometimes ask myself, do EYE (I) spend too much time on MY social media pages? I’ll be frank. The answer is probably yes.
But I’ll tell you what sparked this question. Last week, Jason Derulo, after a nasty split with Jordan Sparks, posted the receipts of Jordan’s BMW that he says he paid for in FULL. Sparks had gone on the Breakfast Club earlier that day claiming otherwise, and Derulo wanted to set the record straight.
Then I think about Nicki Minaj and her recent breakup with longtime boyfriend Safaree Samuels. She posted an eerie tweet to her Twitter page not long after they had broken up. “Anything you don’t appreciate will be taken. God sees your ungrateful evil soul. I gave and gave and gave. Threatening me? Blackmail? Jump,” Nicki wrote. Yikes.
- Anonymity. Much has been written about how anonymity can hinder online discussions, be they on Twitter or in the comments sections. “[People] begin to disassociate their online persona with their offline persona,” wrote Golbeck.
- Invisibility. This pretty much sums it up: “It can be easier to say things from behind a keyboard when the other person (or people) aren’t looking at the poster.” However, Golbeck points out that this dynamic can make it easier for people to have difficult conversations.
- Delayed communication. There is a delay in electronic communication. Even when instant messaging, people can pause before responding, which results in lowered inhibitions. “We may feel more free to share something personal because we can post it and then leave it, dealing with the reactions later.”
- Filling in the other person. Missing verbal cues like tone and delivery as well as body language causes people to perceive the conversation as somehow “less real.” Golbeck says “we lose the sense of the other person involved,” which also helps to explain why cyberbullying is such a big problem on social platforms.
- It’s not real. Similarly to the last point, interacting with others on the Internet feels separated from real life. “If we feel like we aren’t interacting in a real environment where there are real implications from our actions, it can lead us to drop inhibitions,” wrote Golbeck.
- Lack of authority. People may disassociate someone’s offline identity with their online identity, causing them to blurt out something they would never would in real life, say, in front of an authority figure. Golbeck points to possible technological solutions, such as a notification (“Your boss will see this”) that would help those in danger of indiscreet musings.
When is it all just too much?