20
Mar 16

Facebook Unofficial

Facebook

With an overwhelming increase in social media over the past decade, we are seeing some significant negative effects and drawbacks from bullying, to shaming, and myriad additional responses meant to incite followers.  One of the most prevalent casualties of social media, in my opinion, is the negative effect of the declaration and maintenance of relationships on Facebook.  It doesn’t take much effort to observe your surroundings and witness almost everyone passing through life with their noses buried in their various technological devices.  So what are they so intent on monitoring?  Chances are, they are checking in with social media; more often than not, Facebook.

So why is this have a negative effect on relationships?  Take a look around you!  I happen to be enjoying the company of friends at a popular craft brewery in San Diego, California, and as I looked around watching the happy faces of fellow patrons, I fell on the unhappy existence of one, sad couple.  They were good looking, young, seemingly social people.  However, for the approximate hour that I observed them, neither one looked up from their smart phone.  This led me to wonder…does this type of neglect of each other’s partner occur in other relationships?

According to Clayton, Nagurney & Smith (2013), individuals who have a consistent presence on Facebook often neglect their partners, whether by communicating with former partners, developing jealousy through Facebook, or by constantly monitoring their partner’s actions via Facebook.  Most of us can claim to be a Facebook “lurker” at one time or another, but when that lurking becomes problematic by monitoring a partner, detrimental outcomes will likely follow.

But what about the positives?  Don’t we all love to post pictures of the good times we have?  Well, we should be careful not to make it a competition.  We’ve all heard the old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side.”  Viewing the great moments, vacations and life milestones that our friends, family and acquaintances post on Facebook is not a depiction of the whole story.  We should be wise to consider that, while the story being told online is fantastic, it is not the whole story, and we should not be comparing ourselves to the carefully posted moments of another relationship.

Clayton et al. (2013) conclude that “high levels of Facebook use, when mediated by Facebook-related conflict, significantly predict negative relationship outcomes (p. 720)”. It would be wise to remember that the grass is, in fact, not always greener, and sensible to consider one’s own relationship health before making relationship comparisons and disappearing into the cyber abyss.

 

Clayton, R. B., Nagurney, A., & Smith, J. R. (2013). Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame? Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(10), 717-720. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0424

 


20
Mar 16

Donald Trump and Vicarious Learning

Vicarious learning, which is at the heart of the social cognitive theory of mass communication, is the process through which a person learns to perform a behavior after observing a behavior being rewarded (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). This concept, regardless of your political views, could be one way to look at some of the criticism surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Recently, there has been much discussion regarding an incident between John McGraw, a Trump supporter, and Rakeem Jones, a protester that he assaulted. As Rakeem Jones was being escorted out of a Trump rally in North Carolina, John McGraw punched him in the face. McGraw was quoted as saying of Mr. Jones, “Yes, he deserved it,” and adding, “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him” (Parker, 2016). Prior to the assault, Trump had repeatedly told supporters of his desire to be rougher with protesters. One could easily make the argument that McGraw acted, at least in part, due to vicarious learning. He saw the violent behavior of Trump supporters being encouraged and rewarded, which then increased the likelihood that he would exhibit like behaviors.

Another way to look at the violence associated with the Donald Trump campaign is through the neoassociationistic model of media priming. According to Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts (2012), priming is the effect that a stimulus or event can have on the way that we react to future stimuli. Essentially, exposure to media violence can affect how aggressively we act in subsequent situations (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Looking back to Trump’s campaign, his recent comments, regarding the likelihood that him being denied the nomination will lead to violence and riots, could potentially have a priming effect. He has recently been quoted as saying “I think it would be- I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous, many, many millions of people” (Haberman, 2016). Is it possible that such statements, which he has repeated over and over again in subsequent addresses could act as primers for violent behavior? While Mr. Trump’s words might not be meant as a call to arms, I believe that similarly to the way that Mr. McGraw acted violently following Trump’s declarations regarding his desire to be violent against protesters, his most recent comments could also incite violence.

In addition to how violent rhetoric can in fact lead to violence, one could also focus on how such violence leads to an overall increase of fear. Cultivation theory is a theory based on the premise that TV is one of our primary socializing agents, and as such it can cultivate our social reality. In that sense, media violence can lead to, for people with heavy media exposure, a feeling as if the world in general is a violent place (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). If that is the case, then beyond inciting specific acts of violence, the rhetoric that has been central to Trump’s campaign could lead to an overall feeling of fear and insecurity amongst his supporters as well as all of those who are exposed to his views. Now this is certainly not limited to Trump’s campaign, but it is possible that his campaign is greatly contributing to feelings of unrest.

By applying social psychological theories to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, you can see where there is perhaps room for criticism. This is not about his political views or his fitness for office, but simply a breaking down of the potential consequences of some of his statements. That being said, these are certainly not concepts that apply exclusively to Donald Trump or even to the presidential race at large. I think it is important to understand how our exposure to media can affect our levels of aggression, our reactions, and how we view the world around us.

References

Haberman, M. (2016, March 16). Donald Trump warns of ‘riots’ if party blocks him at convention. The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/03/16/donald-trump-warns-of-riots-if-party-blocks-him-at-convention/

Parker, A. (2016, March 10). Black protester is sucker-punched by white Donald Trump supporter at rally. The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/03/10/donald-trump-rally-            protester/

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.


20
Mar 16

Truly Anonymous?

In a world where everyone is connected, can we ever be truly anonymous? Cloud storage, geotags, tracking and other types of sharing are all prevalent in our daily lives. We think we have control of these apps and programs, but are we every truly aware?

The issue of privacy on the internet has been a long debated topic. Some people say we can share what we want and leave out what we don’t. It quickly becomes apparent that this is not the case. As we see time and time again, private celebrity pictures become public all to often and ‘leaks’ of information have happened countless times. The truth is, when your information is out there it’s out there. Though it may seem private, someone with the proper knowledge can track your location or see your photos. The problem is, not sharing these things may make them seem private but if they are present they can be accessed by someone.

So how have these privacy ‘leaks’ been dealt with by the government? The FCC came out with net neutrality laws that treated ISP’s (internet service providers) with a new set of rules to give everyone equal access to the internet, “this also protected consumer privacy and security” (Mccabe, 2016). Is this enough, probably not. The only way to truly stop information of data from ‘leaking’ is to abstain from being on the internet at all. Like I said above, if the information is there it can be accessed by someone. A true intervention for this problem would help. By understanding that data should be encrypted and people should have a right to keep their own information private, this would lead to better encryption practices. Even this though is no match for someone with the right tools, such as the government, who can easily bypass these security methods and eventually find your information.

The world is connected, almost a little too much. The reality of putting your information online is that some of it may get into the wrong hands. It’s important to prepare and be cautious of what you put out there, because it may end up somewhere you least expect. McCabe, D. (2016, March 19). Internet privacy rules: What you need to know. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from http://thehill.com/policy/technology/273624-internet-privacy-rules-what-you-need-to-know


20
Mar 16

Social Media and Political Views

In this day and age, people are relying more and more on social media to provide them with information.  As we approach the presidential election, there is an increase in social media interaction with regards to the differing candidates.  Memes with quotes and images of the candidates are shared and re-shared.  What effect does this have on people’s relationships with each other as well as their political beliefs?

I know for me, I have found some people who I avoid their posts because I am afraid of making a comment that would upset them because of my differing opinions.  There are other people on my social media that I have come to realize I have more in common with them because of the political views they share.  This is in line with the suggested view that people use media to increase positive feelings towards members of similar affiliations (Ponder & Haridakis, 2015).

Social media also removes the person’s ability to waver between two or three candidates because it established a herd mentality that motivates a person to choose between political positions.  They constantly are exposed to their friends and families posting for or against candidates, influencing their opinions.  The need to be involved in a cohesive group causes the person to become involved in Groupthink conditions.

As people watch their friends and family post about political views, they tend to rationalize the opinions of others as being good and true based on their relationships with those people.  They strive to have similar opinions and create a unanimous front, often to the point of censoring their own doubts or frustrations.

Groupthink can be a difficult problem to overcome and can raise many difficulties.  It negatively effects the person’s ability to make decisions.  Some of the negative consequences listed by Schneider et al. include an incomplete survey of objectives and a failure to examine the risks of the preferred choice. (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012) Another risk of Groupthink is that people will stop researching alternatives and will develop an uneducated bias towards a political ideal or candidate.

This election provides a very interesting selection of candidates and some very strong moral objections to many of them for many people.  This is causing people to become very outspoken in their political ideas.  People are eliminating friends on Facebook in an effort to create a more unanimous front on their Facebook feed and eliminating the possibility of receiving alternative viewpoints on the candidates.

Hopefully the almost “herd mentality” caused by this Groupthink will not cause there to be a President that will lead our country to misfortune.  I am not writing this in favor of any political candidate or to cause a political debate over the candidates, I am only interested in the social aspects that social media has had on this election.

 

References

Ponder, J., & Haridakis, P. (2015). Selectively Social Politics: The Differing Roles of Media Use on Political Discussion. Mass Communication and Society, 18(3), 281-302. doi:10.1080/15205436.2014.940977

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology (Second Edition ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE publications.

 


20
Mar 16

How many stars would I get?

It’s Saturday afternoon and you’re sitting around with a couple of friends contemplating where you should all go for dinner.  “Hey, I recently read great reviews on this Indian restaurant”, Jim says.  Everyone pulls out their smartphones, taps into YELP and reads the restaurant’s reviews.  Upon looking at all the photos and reading all the comments, you all decided to give the place a try.  “Man, this place was just all right, I’ll give it a 2”, Jim says upon finishing dinner.  The 2 refers to the number of stars that Jim would give to the restaurant when he writes his review on YELP.  With today’s technological and media advancements, the “rating system” has become an integral part of our new digital world.  Media have become an integral part of our lives. (2012) Believe it or not, even if you think you’re not a part of this, you are.  Taking parts in this in very subtle ways such as rating your Uber driver or rating the Netflix movie you watched last night.   This rating strategy is the oil that keeps likes of Uber, Ebay, Amazon and Airbnb running.  We either provide reviews or read reviews.  Rating has become a part of our daily lives.

Today, everyone is a critic.  But, what if these platforms begins to tap into our personal lives? Becoming available to us to rate our coworkers, employees, bosses and even relationships?  I recently came across apps such as Lulu and Peeple that allows people to rate people you know.  New colleagues or hiring manager can use an app to see how pervious colleagues have reviewed you.  The girl/guy sitting in front of you on your first date can read your relationship reviews from your previous partners.  Every aspect of our personalities and behavior can be assigned a star rating and it would all be public information.

Maybe it still doesn’t seem to be such a problem to some people.  Some may thing that this can help them realize what their weaknesses and downfalls and they can better improve themselves. Or, it’s great to know who their hiring, or how to get along better with their coworker or even help them finding the perfect mate without spending unnecessary time trying to find out things about them.  But, rating system can severely skew the social power dynamics.  For example, the ratings that Uber riders provide can actually cause the Uber drivers to be barred.  We are also giving other people the power to designate our lives.  And what about societal biases?  This may lead to reinforcement of discrimination and many other problems.

Yes, we think there’s no harm and that we are contributing by rating the restaurant we went to last night or the Airbnb room we stayed at last week.  But, just remember that very soon someone out there in the Universe may be reviewing us and giving us the number of stars they think we deserve.

 

Reference

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology:
Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.


19
Mar 16

Technology and the Human Condition

Probably the most significant and world-changing breakthrough of the early 21st Century, the modern smartphone (thanks a lot, Steve Jobs) has modified the face of the widely held future forever, carrying along strength from the most significant and world-changing breakthrough up the late 20th Century, the internet. It is reasonable to evaluate the effects that these intertwined technologies have had on the social interactions of humanity, and the potential ramifications going forward.

Indeed, the field of communications has risen further along the bounds of what has been considered possible than even the most emphatic thinkers and creators of yesteryear could comprehend. Yet more so than in previous generations, the inventions that have come to define this one have been met with more controversy and vitriol than any other since the invention of the television. And yet, even as the controversial nature of the internet and the smart phone continues to be broadcast on every major cable news channel, the accessibility of said technology has kept pace, becoming more pervasive than ever previously throughout society as a whole.

What really got me thinking about this odd duality was a conversation I had with an older client not too long ago. Okay, not older older, but a bit more mature than the average undergraduate student. They said that they were worried, because we were replacing our interactions in the real world with interactions in a virtual one. It wasn’t, the client explained, anything to do with less interaction going on, it was that the interactions had simply moved to a different plane of existence. Far from believing in the eventuality of a networked hive mind, but intrigued nonetheless, I decided to look into the matter further.

My client was wrong.

I mean really, really wrong. According to the Daily Universe, a campus publication at Brigham Young University (I know, I know, never cite the Mormons), “bout 4.1 billion text messages are sent per day in the U.S.” (Eastman, 2013). Additionally, according to Gallup, polling data shows that 68% of Americans aged 18-29 respond with “a lot” when asked about their texting habits from the day previous (Newport, 2014). There are plenty of stats to verify and validate that a great deal of communication has been supplanted by technology. These are only a few. The real challenge of what this entails, however, is something else entirely.

Consider a situation like my own; I am employed by a company as a manager of a business branch in a location far from my (and consequently, my boss’s) home. I travel an average of 90 minutes one way every morning to get to work. My boss hasn’t been down to my branch in nearly six months, even though it’s part of his job. The ability to send emails, texts, and occasionally call (when email simply cannot be leveraged) supplants the need for his presence at my branch rather effectively. The downside of his leadership style and its copious reliance upon technology, tied to many of the other examples already mentioned, leads into our duality.

The problem is that I literally never see my boss. It’s impossible for him to catch me doing anything that he might consider inappropriate (such as allowing my branch employees to dress up for holidays, bake each other birthday cakes, etc), as there has yet to be a direct social interaction between the two of us (or anyone else who works for me and him) in the better part of a year. His behavior shows us a very clear risk of over-reliance upon technology in stark relief.

Considering it from another angle, let’s go back to the Daily Universe article. “Sending messages through social media sites, such as Facebook, is also taking the place of verbal communication. More than four billion messages are sent daily over Facebook, according to techcrunch.com. Although this is far behind the rate of emails being sent, it is almost equal to the number of texts sent per day in the U.S., making up a large portion of the way people communicate” (Eastman, 2013). The idea that we are sending text messages and social media (emails? messages? pokes?) at nearly the same rate speaks to the supplanting value to real human interaction that technology has begun to play in the modern era.

The risks inherent in too much reliance on technology have been discussed for nearly as long as the concept of technology itself. Really, the first time a monkey decided to use a stick rather than his own finger to pick at an anthill, one could argue that technology was born. We’ve heard arguments consistently throughout history from the proponents and the detractors of the “next big thing.” Yet progress always seems to turn out something that helps achieve more for humanity, and doesn’t cheapen the species or force us to be less than what we were before. I feel as though we have yet to find a balance with our modern connectivity. There is something to be said for going “unplugged.” The real issue though, is that we don’t really know where the connectivity and ease of access to information of the modern era will eventually lead. And that, as so many other tech scares of the past show, is terrifying, particularly to those who have come before the generation to absorb and accept all of the change.

Really, it’s important to recognize that mellowing out is usually the safest path. As nice as having constant information and communication with the rest of civilized humanity and one’s fingertips can be, there is serious value in being able to put it aside. As Jim Butcher once said, “sometimes it’s better to not know” (Jim-Butcher.com). Not in any real sense of purposeful ignorance, but in finding a connection with the part of the human story that doesn’t revolve around concrete towers and glowing screens. It is only my opinion, but I have felt the hectic sense of stress that comes with the proverbial delivery of “too much” information to the human mind. The only way to clear it, at least for me, is usually to put my phone down and go climb a mountain. Where there is clearly, quite benevolently, no service.

Eastman, H. (2013). Communication Changes With Technology, Social Media. The Daily Universe, July 2013. Retrieved from http://universe.byu.edu/2013/07/07/1communication-changes-with-technology-social-media/

Newport, F. (2014). The New Era of Communication Among Americans. Gallup, November 2014. Retrieve from http://www.gallup.com/poll/179288/new-era-communication-americans.aspx

Butcher, J. (n.d.). Jim’s Upcoming Works Page. Retrieved from http://www.jim-butcher.com/faq/upcoming-works


19
Mar 16

Danzig’s (2012) Countering the Jack Bauer Effect

Entertainment media such as television shows and movies may influence audiences to imitate or display similar negative behaviors they view from fictional characters. Examples of this issue are provided in Danzig’s (2012) examination of the effects of the TV series 24 on viewers. In Danzig’s examination, he interviews and observes those involved in the development of 24 and those involved in real world experiences, especially interrogators. Moreover, he focuses on the impact of interrogations and violence in entertainment media on reality. Danzig’s point was to show how TV shows and films can negatively influence audiences if they take fictional characters or situations too seriously or apply what they see on entertainment media to real life.

As mentioned by Danzig (2012), torture is often utilized and glorified on TV and in films. Torture often provides the “good guys” with an advantage and makes them heroes. However, some people take this unrealistic idea too seriously and believe the torture techniques utilized by characters on TV or in movies will be effective in real life. For example, methods for interrogation from television shows have been imitated by “junior U.S. soldiers” and Guantánamo Bay interrogators. Additionally, the TV series 24 has presented an issue in military educational schools due to young students referencing the show as an effective way to utilize torture. Interrogators have also based their interrogation techniques on 24. At Guantánamo Bay, Diane Beaver, the “highest-ranking uniformed military lawyer” in that area, stated that 24’s 2nd season impacted the interrogation methods utilized at Guantánamo. Other professionals, including soldiers, have utilized TV shows and films as references for interrogations, including Lagouranis in Iraq.

In Danzig’s (2012) article, we see that fictional torture in entertainment media such as television shows and movies may influence audiences to copy what they watch. Viewers may imitate what they see on TV or films, which may lead to real negative consequences. In this case, interrogators or soldiers copying TV show or movie characters may lack limitations in their interrogation methods, which may lead negative consequences such as killing the individual being interrogated. Real life imitation of fictional characters seen on TV or in the movies may be encouraged when characters are shown experiencing zero consequences for their actions and/or are rewarded for their violent actions (e.g. becoming a hero). Moreover, fictional characters may be copied in order to obtain similar rewards, despite the fictionality of characters and situations on TV and in films.

On the other hand, although television shows and movies (we’ll leave out some documentaries in this case) are fake, they can often appear extremely realistic. The close attention to realistic features (e.g. costumes, props) in a TV series or film may blur the line between reality and entertainment, a potential influence on encouraging audiences to apply what they have seen in a show to real life. In one instance, Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer in 24) told Danzig (2012) people frequently view him as Bauer. Sutherland stated, “Recently, a woman on the street ran away from me screaming, ‘Don’t hurt me Jack Bauer!’” In addition, General Finnegan, West Point’s U.S. Military Academy dean and wearing a real uniform representing the army, was mistaken for a 24 extra while waiting for a meet up with Sutherland to speak with him regarding how the TV series depicts interrogations.

Conclusively, audiences may take TV shows and films too seriously and apply what they have watched to real life, despite the fictional environment of these entertainment media. This issue could be influenced by multiple factors, some of which are discussed in Danzig’s (2012) article. These factors may include: the difficulties of separating the entertainment media world of TV shows and films from reality when attention to realistic features are present, and fictional characters being rewarded and/or lacking consequences for their negative behaviors. We should become more aware of these influences and recognize that television shows and films are purely for entertainment (and money to those who developed the show or movie) and should not be taken seriously or applied to real life, for real consequences could result.

References

Danzig, D. (2012). Countering the Jack Bauer Effect: AN EXAMINATION OF HOW TO LIMIT THE INFLUENCE OF TV’S MOST POPULAR, AND MOST BRUTAL, HERO. In Flynn, M. & Salek, F. F. (Eds.), Screening Torture: Media Representations of State Terror and Political Domination (pp. 21–33). Columbia University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/flyn15358.4


19
Mar 16

The Ignorance of Social Media

Ah, the wonders of social media. What was once Myspace has propelled to Twitter and Facebook, connecting people all around the world millions of times a day. A particular interest of those on social media today seems to be politics, especially given that this is an election year. While social media and media coverage of the election make people more politically aware, it also leads people to incorrect conclusions—giving people the delusion that they are political experts, based on the media agenda. When people respond to this assessment by saying, “The media doesn’t have an agenda, people do,” I have to say the media is people. It is not this abstract all-knowing entity that we rely on for news; it is an outlet controlled by people. Therefore, while social media networks and the national media in general can connect people to important information, they can sometimes do more harm than good.

Schneider, Gruman and Coutts make note of the fact that media coverage of politics and news can actually change peoples’ attitudes, whether the information is correct or not (2012). In a study by Ran, Yamamoto and Xu, it was hypothesized that those who partake in “media multitasking” while consuming news information are more likely to believe that they are very politically aware when they are not (2015). In this case, media multitasking means using a form of media while also doing something else—whether it be social, mobile, televised, or the like. For example, think of the last time you watched television or listened to music. Were you also texting or looking something up on your cell phone? If you are like many people, you probably were. This study also touches on the fact that people often jump from one media task to another, or back and forth while performing some other activity, adding to the phenomenon (Ran et al., 2015). The study concluded that media multitasking while receiving political news does lead to lower knowledge of actual political facts; people also seemed to perceive that they were more politically knowledgeable than they actually were (Ran et al., 2015).

This study, as well as the lesson readings, deeply connect to what is occurring in our country today. Recaps of presidential debates and campaign rallies are shown everywhere. They are on the news, on Twitter and on peoples’ Facebook newsfeeds. People make posts on social media about how awful this or that candidate is, or “vote for her, not for him,” and so on. How far will people be willing to let this continue before it stops? Yes, modern technology and social media have been a great success in many ways, but a great failure in others. It has brought people all around the world together, but it has also escalated conflict and helped create a generation of people who think they know everything. The Ran study suggests people try to not multitask with their media resources, and instead focus on “cognitive attention to details” in order to gain more factual knowledge (2015). In fact, some people may come off social media altogether.

This media-fueled generation has led many to give up on social media in order to get some peace, demonstrating the aforementioned ideas that it can do harm. Recently, a young man decided to permanently delete his Facebook page after one too many posts about the presidential election, organic and non-GMO foods, and government conspiracies. This was not the first time he deleted it; he had gotten rid of it a year prior, and had only had a new one for four months before he was sick of it again. He finds his days very peaceful, not checking status updates and not having to be involved in the biggest part of the media-consuming culture.

Unfortunately, though, social media and other forms of media technology are here to stay. People continue to think they know more than they actually do, partially due to the vast amount of information available through the media and the internet. However, people should learn to use it responsibly; for example, before setting up any social media account, people could be shown results from studies like the one mentioned above. Users could be aware of the damage media can cause, and perhaps this awareness could help improve the technological culture in which we live.

References:

Ran, W., Yamamoto, M., & Xu, S. (2015). Media multitasking during political news consumption: A relationship with subjective and factual political knowledge. Computers in Human Behavior. 56. 352-359.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied social psychology:
Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.


18
Mar 16

Social support now at the palm of your hand

In an age where social media has dominated the world, no one ever has to feel alone. Start typing something in Google; it is like Google was reading your mind right? This is because you are not the only person looking for answers to these questions or topics you are searching. There are now more than 3 Billion people using the internet (Davidson, 2013). The internet is a world wide web of over 3 billion people connected through media. 3 billion people. It was found that 75% of American adults use social media sites (Pew research, 2013).

The good thing about this high number of people using social media is that you always have people to connect with, no matter what might be going on in your life there are others to talk to. There are other people going through the same or similar things you are at any given moment. For example, grieving the death of a loved one? How about a death due to suicide? There are groups and pages and people dedicated to help with the grieving process of this. There are others to talk to, there are inspirational sayings written across calming pictures, just to help you feel better and know that you are not alone. Survivor of domestic violence? Check out Facebook, there are groups and pages for that as well.

In a world full of negative and pessimistic outlooks on life, there are groups and pages to help through anything. My daughter has a rare illness, up until a few weeks ago I felt like I was in the dark. I didn’t know where to go or what to do for her. I found groups and people on Facebook that have made me feel so much better. I have a better understanding of her illness and a better understanding of what we need to do. I also have connected with people I have formed friendships with through these groups. I no longer feel alone.

There is a stigma attached to social media sites for teens and young adults. There is plenty we hear about cyber-bullying and people meeting up with the wrong people. We here about all the self esteem issues that young people have after viewing these super models. However, social media can be used for good too. Think about the friendships and relationships that have formed or were reunited due to social media. Think about the people that went into social media on a day where they may have thought they had no where else to turn or anyone to listen to them and they got help there.

Social media is compromised of people from all over the world connected in one place to share and help people just like them through the good and bad.

 

 

References:

Davidson, Jacob (2015). Here’s How Many Internet Users There Are. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://time.com/money/3896219/internet-users-worldwide/

Social Networking Fact Sheet. (2013). Retrieved March 18, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/


17
Mar 16

Media, Psychology & Brand Preference

I once read an article, that I cannot find now, in which a group of people (about 30) took an annual trip to Las Vegas for pleasure and stayed at the same hotel every time.  During one visit to the hotel, they were checking in and ran into some problems, I believe it was with the line being long.  One of the people in the party tweeted at the hotel their frustration.  The competitor hotel down the street, which was monitoring that hotel’s social media account, saw this tweet and tweeted at the unhappy customer that there were no lines at their hotel and apologized that they had to wait.  That’s it!  A simple apology and a mention of no waiting and the group of 30 then began staying at the other hotel each year from then on.

Just when you think you’ve won over a consumer and got them hooked on your brand, it only takes one experience and an intercept from a competitor to get them to switch.  And all of this happened at no cost to the competitor hotel.  Tweeting is free!  Talk about an ROI!

In this particular instance, the consumer was unable at the moment to voice her frustration directly to the clerk or to another employee at the hotel, so they took to social media to vent.  In a study conducted by VB Insight, it uncovered that consumers complain about brands 879 million times a year with about 289 million of those complaints going unanswered.  Recently, Red Lobster received some backlash for not responding to Beyonce’s reference to them in the launch of her song “Formation”.  Because no one was monitoring their social media account, their “what should have been clever reply” was not posted until hours later. #Fail Red Lobster. Fail.

So how does media shape what we, as consumers, think is important?  If I think about this from the perspective of what I do every day, which is brand and advertisement, it looks much like agenda setting.  According to Schneider (2012), agenda setting is the idea that media can shape what issues we think about or what issues we think are important.  For example, each year a brand will do a brand campaign and they blanket the television, social media, radio, print etc with their brand and what message they want you to receive about their brand, be it functional or emotional.  This is known as the availability heuristic.  The availability heuristic (Schneider et al., 2012) suggest that people make judgments based on how easy it is to recall instances of something from memory.  For example, if you have seen a commercial, looked at a print ad in a magazine, read a twitter post all from the same brand and someone asked you to list the name of a brand in that category- chances are you will list this brand because it is most easy to recall.

This is the same technique the competitor hotel used in the beginning of my post.  They got in front of the consumer and made a positive emotional connection during a negative time- which left them at the top of that consumer’s mind; leading to increased recall.  As a result, that group chose the other hotel for their subsequent visits.

On the flip side, the same can also happen to a brand if there is negative media surrounding them.  Take Chic-Fil-a, for example.  This brand was known to all consumers to have great customer service and tasty food…fast.  Their corporate purpose? “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.” (Chik-fil-a.com) However, the only way you would ever know that there was a religious affiliation with this brand is the fact that their doors are closed on Sunday. No one thinks to take to a brand’s corporate page to look up their mission and vision or purpose if the brand is great!  There’s no reason to.  And the people that have interest in that are probably doing work for the brand.  Your average Joe consumer?  Nah, not so much. But who would have ever thought that the President of Chik-fil-a, Dan Cathy would explain his “guilty as charged” comments on the Atlanta radio program The Ken Coleman show on the heels of his gay marriage stance. Stating “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” (U.S. News and World Report, 2012)  This caused tons of consumers, media outlets, political activists, gay rights activists and many others to take a deeper dive into what Chik-fil-a really stood for.  Chik-fil-a was in the media for a long time and people boycotted them, spoke negatively about them and a social movement was incited.

Media influences our thoughts, our feelings and our perceptions of political issues, social issues, brands, other people and ourselves.  We learn about things instantaneously these days.   We live the life we want to on the internet so others will think we “have it all”. Politicians tell you what they want you to hear to get your vote.  Brands pull you in emotionally to make the sale.  Instant gratification is only a wi-fi connection away. One thing is for sure- what goes up, must come down.

Media- love them or hate them, they are here to stay.

 

Cline, S. (2012, July 27). Chick-fil-A’s Controversial Gay Marriage Beef. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/27/chick-fil-as-controversial-gay-marriage-beef

How Can Brands Turn Consumer Complaints Into Compliments On Social Media? (2015). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.momentology.com/4140-consumer-complaints-on-social-media-how-can-brands-turn-complaints-into-compliments/

How We Give. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2016, from http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Company/Responsibility-Giving-Tradition

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage

 


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