Social media has a lot of uses and drawbacks. But according to a new study, there is one that could turn out to be among the most significant.
A team of scientists from Yale University have found that “likes” and “shares” on social media “teach” people to be angrier, reports Phys.org. Scientists concluded after measuring so-called “expressions of moral outrage” on Twitter, especially those made after important world events.
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The Yale team studied a total of 12.7 million tweets from over 7,300 Twitter users. Based on their observations, they confirmed that the incentives offered by social media platforms are changing the way people post. Those whose tweets received more “likes” or “shares” on their angry posts tend to maintain the trend with their following tweets.
According to William Brady, a postdoctoral researcher at Yale and the study’s first author, this is the first evidence to prove that people’s trends are influenced over time by the basic design of social media. Although in this case it’s more on the negative side.
In addition, the study also revealed how much of a role social media actually plays in terms of political influence. By observing members of extremist and moderate political groups, the researchers found that those allied with the former expressed more outrage than the latter. However, members of the moderate groups were technically the ones whose expressions of anger were prompted by the inherent “reward system” of social media.
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Social media and their gargantuan role in shaping perception
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become a battleground in recent times, specifically because of the pandemic. More and more people are checking their profiles to post their thoughts in light of recent events because there really is nothing else they can do as they are often stuck at home.
As the world reeling from the devastating effects of the coronavirus, social media users have no choice but to go to Facebook or Twitter and voice their grievances over the so-called ‘government shortcomings’ when it’s about managing the pandemic. And since other people are also stuck at home and bearing the economic brunt of current events, they are more or less inclined to agree. So the premise of the Yale study.
It’s also worth noting that this massive increase in social media posts is starting to wreak havoc on people’s mental health. That’s why many experts have advised people to take social media breaks.
Responsible social media posting is still important
Social media is starting to make people angry with anything and everything. And on several occasions, it also makes them angry with themselves, writes The Medium. But despite this, responsible publication on these platforms remains the best way to turn their negative effects into positive ones.
Everyone knows that a little more positivity and a little less anger can improve the overall quality of life in these uncertain times.
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Written by RJ Pierce
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