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Is social media turning us into psychopaths?

Elizabeth Bromstein|

We’ve written a few articles about social media recently, and while researching those I stumbled across this infographic from last year by Who Is Hosting This. Don’t ask me what I googled – I have no idea – but it asks the question of whether social media is turning us into psychopaths.

It’s not terribly scientific (also, there’s a typo), but I find the discussion interesting, not least because I am a huge fan of social media, which I use all the time for both work and personal reasons.

The argument?

We spend a lot of time staring at screens, an estimated eight hours a day for adults and seven for kids, according to this article, which, before you argue that these numbers sound low, adds that this average increases to eleven hours a day if activities like texting, IMs, and phone-based browsing are included. It’s said to be a real problem for some, and “Internet Addiction Disorder” was added to an appendix in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V) in 2013.

Some of the touch points include:

    • “We’re lying more,” about things like what we do when we’re alone and what we do for work – though how they quantify “more” isn’t clear. More than what? More than who? More than when?

    • We’re disconnected.

    • We’re self-obsessed.

On a related note, a 2012 study suggested that we can identify psychopaths by their tweets. Referring to the “Dark Triad” of psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism, researchers say they were able to predict with a “reasonably high degree of accuracy” if a Twitter user was a possible psychopath.

Among the flags were swearing, angry responses to others, use of angry words like “hate,” use of the word “we,” and use of filler words such as “blah,” “I mean” and “um.” Confirmed psychopaths also preferred the past tense and used more conjunctions such as “because,” “since” or “so that.”

Wow. I’m pretty sure I do most of these things, as do many of those I follow on Twitter. Is social media turning me into a psychopath? Uh oh.

But seriously, I’m a little sick of the anti-social media platform. I love it. I love that social media has allowed me to maintain contact with people I otherwise might have lost touch with, that I could still interact with people when I was stuck home recovering after the birth of my child, that I have access to all kinds of articles, videos, memes and whatnot that people share and that I can share the things that I enjoy, that I can promote my work and discover other people’s work, that people who are otherwise unable to get out still have the opportunity to interact and discover things. I would say social media has absolutely enhanced my own life. Most importantly for our purposes at Workopolis, it as been incredibly instrumental in helping people find work, and is wildly useful for businesses in hiring and beyond.

And it feels like people are always looking for a way to dismiss whatever is popular as stupid or harmful.

One the other hand, it’s true that cyberbullying has become more of a problem.

What do you think? Do you love social media, hate it, see yourself in this infographic? Has it changed your life for better or worse? Tell us about it.

Social_MediaPsychopath

 
 
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