Why social media research should not be done by the non-social-media-literate

Jag är förkyld och orkar inte blogga på riktigt, men jag blir fortfarande arg när någon forskningskommunicerar dåligt på internet. Ni får den engelska varianten för jag orkar inte heller översätta.

This was, as many of my blog posts, triggered by someone being wrong or misleading on the internet. The worst cases often come from newsreleases, this one too.

I’ll just leave you to quickly skim this little gem https://neurosciencenews-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/neurosciencenews.com/depression-social-media-17324/amp/

TLDR: Social media linked to depression
(note the sneaky weasel word ’linked’ in the title, it does NOT mean ’causes’)

Sigh. ”It used to be a hen-and egg situation, but now we clearly see increased social media use linked with depression”. NOPE. This is clearly STILL a hen-and-egg situation. Despite the claims in this newsrelease it is still not proved by this study that social media results in depression.

For instance, in the long lead-up to my depression, I buried myself increasingly in my phone as a defence, because I was too cognitively depleted to engage with my family, and social media (and mobile games) was easier than real interaction. I think that is a pretty common reaction in stressed and tired people in general, I’ve seen it a lot in new parents. And stress and tireness are commonly a risk factor and possible trigger for depression.

My take-home from this is rather: be wary of changed social media usage patterns in people, it indicates that they don’t feel well and may get worse.

And being condescendent and/or aggressive about someone’s social media use, which is the most common approaches I have seen the social media antagonist crowd take – and won’t THIS news release trigger them into a frenzy – will not help things, rather the opposite.

And even more annoying, becasue the whole research field of ”let’s prove with SCIENCE that internet/social media/’screen time’ is BAD’ (I refuse to dignify that marsh with an academic name) does this. Let us stop with the cliche-based guessing hypothesising from non-social media literate people, that is just bad science!

Social media doesn’t make people feel bad because they follow a lot of unreachable, superficial narcissist accounts – because that is not what people in general DO on social media. A few masochists might, but in general people follow other people they like and know, or want to be updated on, or individuals or groups that have the same hobbies as them. Yarn social media, for instance, has lots of nice people and content on each platform I use or follow. Instagram #knitting is my favourite cheer-up-channel.

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