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6 Scientific Reasons Social Networks Are Bad for Society

They're Full of Psychos

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"Who interacts on the Web?: The intersection of users' personality and social media use"

Computers in Human Behavior 26 (2010) 247-253

Researchers asked, "Who interacts on the Web?" and the answer was "psychos."

Original by leadpoint
We could have told them that.

They sent a mass email offering to pay random strangers to take a survey, and found the 1,432 people in America who still don't have spam filters. They found that for men "while extraversion and openness to experiences were positively related to social media use, emotional stability was a negative predictor." In other words, unlike in the real world where extraversion and emotional stability normally go together, online social networks had the opposite effect. Social networks are basically loaded with emotionally unstable men keen to try new things on new people, a character description you might remember from the world of recurring horror villains.


The only user with a "Subtract Friend" button.

One of their hypotheses was that "people who are more emotionally stable will use social media less frequently" and they confirmed the shit out of it. The more unstable men spent longer hours online, meaning activity on social networks is artificially made up of more emotional instability than HAL 9000.

Unlike some of the other studies on this list, the results couldn't be blamed on college aged kids, or the next generation being driven mad by the latest dance craze. This was a widespread sampling across all ages, tax brackets and sexualities. They're all around you RIGHT NOW. Taking life satisfaction into account meant it wasn't just the losers who are unstable -- even the rich, successful and popular people who spend a lot of time on Facebook are still more likely to be unstable.

Social Networks Are Full of Whiners

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"Distress, coping, and blogging: Comparing new Myspace users by their intention to blog"

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2008 Feb;11(1):81-5

A study of 134 new MySpace users from around the world found that those intending to blog were basically fucked up compared to those who weren't. "Intending bloggers scored higher on psychological distress, self-blame and venting and scored lower on social integration and satisfaction with number of online and face-to-face friends." They also scored higher on Depression, Anxiety and Stress, the worst combo high-score in history. You're more likely to find well-balanced journal entries written in human blood than on a MySpace blog.

iStock
Time for a few pints of poetry!

The bloggers were also less satisfied with the number of on and offline friends they had. Notice how that's not quality of friends - that was fine -- but sheer number. Wanting quantity over quality in friendships shows that you don't understand that word. It's like complaining about not having enough genitals -- you should really focus on working with what you have instead of adding more for the sake of it. Being able to look at your own friends and say, "There aren't enough of you" takes a very specific type of shallowness, and it's one that apparently makes you want to blog on MySpace.

The study noted those intending to blog who hadn't started yet, which presumably lead to a lengthy scientific ethics debate about the ethics of euthanasia.

Social Networks Prevent People From Being Social and Networking

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"The Influence of Shyness on the Use of Facebook in an Undergraduate Sample"

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Jun;12(3):337-40

One's first year of college is informally agreed upon to be the time when people who aren't good at meeting people learn how to do that. The whole point of leaving home is to develop a real personality by making as many nonlethal mistakes as your body can handle as quickly as possible. But a 2009 study found that the meek are settling for not-even-fake online relationships, further tipping the balance of society's longstanding philosophy of "Screw the meek. They don't mind."

Getty Creative
The only reason we go see romantic movies.

Using the "Revised Cheek and Buss Shyness scale" (a reverse-percentage of how much fun you have at parties that paints a brilliant picture of someone bursting in and telling shy people "That scale you use for shyness is crap I'LL REVISE IT!"), psychologists studied the Web use of 100 first-year college students. They found that shyness correlated with time spent online and positive attitudes towards social networking, but negatively correlated with number of Facebook friends. In other words: The shy spend more time online instead of partying, have less online friends than the people partying and think the cause of their continued shyness is great. It's the saddest online relationship since that guy took his Real Doll on vacation, and at least he's getting out of the house and a bit laid.

via metro.co.uk
A bit.

Graduating classes from here on out will be full of people who learned how to socialize online and will act the same way in real life. H.P. Lovecraft doesn't have words for how scary that is. On Facebook, "friends with benefits" means someone who clicks on carrots for your Farmville, which is as far as two people can get from getting it on. If they neutered each other, there would be more genital touching. Zuckerberg clearly created Facebook to get revenge on college by making sure no one had sex again. Either that, or he's making sure no nerds who come after him know enough about "friends" to invent a better service.

Getty Editorial
But if society can be defeated by that it deserves everything it gets.

Either way, Skynet won't have to invent roving killbots to finish off the species. They just have to wait and we'll forget how to breed. Or read potential mate's profiles and decide we don't want to.

Luke McKinney also tumbles, knows which games don't mess around, and has a website.

For more social networking self-defense, check out 6 Things Social Networking Sites Need To Stop Doing and 5 Ways To Stop Trolls From Killing The Internet.

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