6 Scientific Reasons Social Networks Are Bad for Society
We've always known that computer networks would destroy the world. We just thought they'd get super-intelligent first. Instead, we got social networks, which act as a stupidity X-ray: You suddenly see through the intelligent people your friends pretend to be to the LOLing Farmville players underneath. Some smart people decided to study these networks, and found that they're a bigger threat to society than Skynet. At least the rise of those machines forced us to band together and do things.
More real social interaction than all of MySpace.
Everyone (Correctly) Assumes You're an Egocentric Asshole
PDF: "Narcissism and Social Networking Web Sites"Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34 (10), 2008, p 1303-1314 Narcissism is excessive self-love, inflated self-importance and unjustified feelings of entitlement. Along with electrons, it is the primary active ingredient in the Internet. Three years ago, psychologists decided to publish a research paper on its prevalence on social networking sites, presumably because they didn't think anyone would read the entire set of encyclopedias they could have filled, and simply publishing the words "Everything on all of them" felt too glib. Researchers had 156 students fill out a survey called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) that forces subjects to choose between options like, "My body is nothing special" versus "I like to look at my body," and "I can learn from other people" versus "I can solve most global problems by spitting on them." Researchers then monitored the student's Facebook activity for what they called objective and subjective factors, and compared that with how they scored on the NPI. The scientists' goal was to see if they could isolate social networking behaviors that were more narcissistic, and to boil down complex human emotions into numbers, because that's like oxygen to them.
An 8.7 on the It-normalized Birthday Trauma scale according to Science.
Quantum communications will revolutionize streaming of our GILF threesomes!
For users of social networking, the results were not encouraging. Narcissism ratings were higher in every single category, including how narcissistic people assume you are just for having an account. Posting large amounts of information on your profile page was both perceived as narcissistic by others, and more common among narcissists. According to the study, a typical interaction on a social networking site is like a whirlwind of self-obsessed assholery: You think you're just filling out a profile, but others (correctly) assume you're an asshole for expecting strangers to care about your forty favorite movies despite doing the exact same thing themselves. So everyone is thinking,
Omigawd, nearly forgot to set the webcam before "accidentally" leaning forward too far!
Thousands of Friends Means None
"The relationship between number of friends and interpersonal impressions on Facebook"Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (2008) 531-549If someone tells you they have 4,000 friends, chances are they're including you as one of them despite having just made sure it's not the case. When you hit four digits, you have a worse definition of friends than Boo Radley, and he still spent time interacting with his friends. Michigan State University researchers studied the relationship between number of friends and actual popularity, and found that the fourth digit of friends means you're likely getting the two longest digits on the hand from a good portion of them. We not only know you don't have three thousand friends, which is stupid, but we automatically know you don't even have three or you wouldn't have time to sit clicking "Add Friend" every night.
God, I wish my son would go out and take drugs. Maybe get some girls pregnant.
One-hundred and fifty-three students filled out surveys and rated fake Facebook profiles on social and physical attractiveness. These fake profiles were identical except for the number of friends listed. The scientists noticed a hill-shaped relationship between friends and attractiveness: Having more friends means you're more attractive, up to what they mysteriously failed to call the "Bullshit Threshold." At a certain point (around a thousand friends) you start looking as bad as people with only few, and even more desperate.
This is what it looks like when a scientist calls you NEEEERRRRRRD!
The scientists also analyzed the participating students. One claimed to have over 2,700 friends, and the scientists added a footnote with all the statistics re-calculated without that person. Even in a study about how many friends imaginary accounts could pretend to have, the researchers looked at this asshole and said, "They're so stupid it's throwing off our math."
They also confirmed Tila Tequila as the most unpopular person on the planet.
They're Reinstalling Sexism
"The Role of Friends' Appearance and Behavior on Evaluations of Individuals on Facebook: Are We Known by the Company We Keep?"Human Communication Research 34 (2008) 28-49Obviously, negative gender stereotypes exist on the Internet, because it's 90 percent porn. But at least they're getting paid for it. Every other woman gets it for free. Judging others by a picture is apparently a recipe for turning people into assholes -- interacting with a monitor and keyboard means people feel less empathy. They also don't bother pretending to be nice, which is a pity, because "pretending to be nice" is pretty much what made the nonwarring part of human history possible.
Reversing the polarity of "civil."
A group of 389 students got course credit for letting older men and women watch them use the Internet, so that's good future career training (they were all taking "communications degrees" so it's nice to have options other than communicating a request for fries with that). Just like all innocent scientific experiments involving groups of teenagers, the results were horrifying: enough sexism to make Sterling Cooper look like the Mother Goddess Freegan Collective.
If you sit on me we use less sofa material, saving the environment.
The researchers set up fake Facebook profiles for student girls who got trashed and slept with nasty slobs (it's nice to see science is only a few years behind porn technology) and their research paper explained, "Typographical errors in these messages were intentional and reflect common writing characteristics in Facebook postings." Well done, Internet, you now write so poorly, literate people have to explain it to each other. They then set up the exact same profiles with pictures of guys. The result?
My 20 percent higher wages!
They're Full of Psychos
"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."
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.
Social Networks Are Full of Whiners
Time for a few pints of poetry!
Social Networks Prevent People From Being Social and Networking
"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."
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 "
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.
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.