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If you are active on social media, are you happier now than before social media?

If you are active on social media, are you happier now than before social media?

It is a rare experience on Twitter that leaves me feeling better about anything – the world, myself, or others.

Two recent high profile suicides have led to a lot of discussion about how suicide rates have been rising for the past 20 years.

The issue of why also has been discussed a lot, and there certainly are no simple or easy answers. Each tragedy has its own reasons and facts, though there are themes.

My mind first went to the rise of social media as at least a part of the problem.

If you are active on social media, are you happier now than before social media?

It is a rare experience on Twitter that leaves me feeling better about anything – the world, myself, or others. I’ve described Twitter as a pus pocket. I think I was too charitable. It’s easy to turn disagreement into hatred into fury — just witness how many celebrities and others have gotten themselves into trouble by Twitter outbursts.

I don’t spend as much time on Facebook, because early on I pegged Facebook as a cesspool of which I wanted little part. I do have a personal Facebook and the website has a Facebook page, but I don’t post a lot myself much less interact with “friends” particularly Trump Deranged “friends.” To the extent I ever hear people talk about their Facebook experiences, it frequently focuses on blocking, defriending or muting childhood or college liberal friends who have gone off the rails with anti-Trump fury.

A quick search confirms my gut feeling that social media likely is linked to depression . I don’t know if there is proof in the sense of a scientifica or legal causation, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence. Here are some links I found in just a couple of minutes:

A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel

Social Media and Teen Depression: The Two Go Hand-In-Hand

Rise in teen suicide connected to social media popularity: study

Suicide rate’s increase can be tied to social media, technology: Dr. Marc Siegel

Using Many Social Media Platforms Linked With Depression, Anxiety Risk

When I think back on the almost 10 years of Legal Insurrection, I think most fondly of the earlier days, before social media dominated the landscape. With the anti-conservative bias of the tech oligopolies who run social media, social media seems like even more of a trap than just a couple of years ago.

Social media also has polluted our more general life, with the ability to form online mobs increasing, as Prof. Glenn Reynolds recently wrote in USA Today:

People enjoy forming mobs. Mobs allow people to do things they’d be afraid to do on their own, to steal, to hurt and kill, to burn and destroy — and also to feel set free from the bonds of civil society, to experience a kind of atavistic catharsis, a feeling of power and a solidarity with their fellow rioters, in a way that’s otherwise difficult to achieve, especially without suffering serious consequences….

But now there’s a new kind of mob, an online mob. And judging by the events of the past week, this new mob is becoming a more frequent problem. Part of that is because it’s easier (and safer) to be part of an online mob than one in the real world.

Joining a real mob requires you to leave your house, go somewhere else, and experience risks and discomforts. Joining an online mob can be done from an easy chair at home.

This social media mob mentality impacts most those who are on social media, even if not a direct target. There is a tension and anxiety caused by watching these mobs form in real time.

In all, social media is a depressing place to be.

We need to figure out ways to connect with each other outside those platforms.


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casualobserver | June 9, 2018 at 9:41 pm

The biggest modern day oxymoron is the term social media. It is anti!social both in how people behave and in how it affects user long term.

    oldgoat36 in reply to casualobserver. | June 10, 2018 at 8:03 am

    It is causing more unrest, it is not a unifying medium, other than those who ignore or abstain from any political discussions.

    Trouble is, it is hard to refrain from commenting on some political topics, as they do need to be discussed.

    I read that social media is causing a massive shift in our society, and I tend to agree with that assessment.

Just. Walk. Away.

Literally. The exercise will do you good…!!!

No, I’m not on social media, and I have no interest in being on social media.

Believe it or not, I’m just as happy as I’ve ever been.*

*Honestly, a lot of the reason for that is because Hilliary isn’t President!

I used to go on face book and touch base with old High School mates. But after the election most of them lost their minds. So I checked out and havn’t been back.

It’s a double-edged sword. It’s (Facebook) enabled us to stay in touch with both close and extended family, see nieces and nephews growing up, cheering on their sometimes frazzled parents, allows us to share bits and pieces of our lives without interrupting busy schedules… it was all good up until Bush/Palin Derangement Syndrome metastasized into full-blown Trump Derangement Syndrome which spilled into otherwise up-til-then happy Facebook. As the fury rages and one side is shut out, blocked and/or de-friended, it’s no longer a happy place.

But for my daughter who just got married after surviving (and thriving) in a four-year long-distance relationship, social media made all the difference, they were able to ‘talk’ everyday, every night, messaging and face time, sharing small happinesses with all of us on Facebook. I’m saying there’s a good side.

Twitter’s a different animal, made for fighting and trying to bludgeon that intolerant deranged army into some semblance of what we used to be, for letting out frustration brought on by our friends and families’ fury after the election. It has its place.

Before social media it was anonymous blog/newspaper commentors online, spewing vitriol and proving for all time that mankind will always be warlike, incapable of living in peace.

It’s not social media, it’s people. Kinda like guns don’t kill people, people do. Maybe social media just amplifies it and it also lives forever online.

There’s no apparent cure for derangement syndrome. So I am not hopeful.

    Colonel Travis in reply to Rose. | June 10, 2018 at 1:21 am

    The biggest problems from social media are with us because it’s superficially social. People behave with more caution, more politeness, more civility face-to-face. It’s not just a threat of physical retaliation that holds people in check. Seeing someone with a scowl on their face after you’ve just said something stupid, reckless, insulting, etc. has an effect.

    Remove a real human from human interaction and you start moving in the direction of animals.

    Neo in reply to Rose. | June 10, 2018 at 8:07 am

    … but I’ve noticed this seems to have manifested itself in this non-internet public display.

    Every one of these signs screams public hatred of Donald Trump.

Got of FacePlant last year after about six years on. Of all my “friends” there is only one I miss and can’t find (Shug call me).

The rest (about 100) were all fake friends. Not a single one has tried to catch up with me. And most know alternate ways to contact me. They are just fake people.

Besides the whole environment was fantasy. PR relations campaign. There even have been some interesting articles about how lately people lied about themselves and how great their life was going. And naturally if everyone’s life is running perfectly and yours isn’t people with depressive tendencies will tend to feel even worse.

The political bias of the mods is what drove me away. After a 2 week suspension for telling Clinton activists “you guys are just as corrupt as Hillary” (after they slimed me as s racist sexist homophobe all week)… I knew the 3rd instance would be a perma-ban, and I was not going to spend my time living under that cloud, self-censoring my political thoughts.

Life without it has been better. But I never really liked humans to begin with. No offense, but your species too readily reverts back to poo-flinging monkeys. If Thanos didn’t pay so good for advanced scout teams, I’d be back in Bellatrix.

Back in the day, my roommate bought the second Radio Shack TRS-80 sold in the state (the RS manager bought the first one). I have been “online”, as it were, since before social media, even before there was an Internet. Anybody remember ARPANET? How about FidoNet?

I never fell into the social media trap. Never got on AOL, never had a MySpace, no Facebook and I don’t Tweet.

These days, I see people who are unwilling to put down their smartphones. They carry them all the time, even when taking out the trash. Reminds me of that scene from WALL-E; the two guys videoconferencing with each other while sitting side-by-side.

Hello? Raise your head and look around you. There’s a whole, big, beautiful world out there. Watch the leaves flutter in the breeze, enjoy a sunset or, heaven forbid, actually talk to people.

    People unwilling to put down their smart phones…

    A couple of weeks ago I was at the park enjoying a beautiful spring afternoon…I walked past a young family at the play ground…mom, dad and a cute little girl about 4 or 5…

    The mom and dad were siting at the picnic table totally engaged in their phones…the little girl stood at the top of the slide going, “Mommy, look at me…Daddy, look at me”…but mom and dad never looked up. Finally, the girl got frustrated and climbed down off the slide…

    I walked by again about 10min later and the dad was pushing the girl in the swing, but still looking at his phone. The mom was busy texting…

    I’ll never understand those phone zombies…

LukeHandCool | June 9, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Social media is like sugar. It can be instantaneously very pleasing, but ultimately very bad for you (in most cases, I believe).

As a tool to avoid the leftist MSM filter leading to under-reported or unreported news stories (those which reflect badly upon the left), a platform like Twitter can be of real value. Outside of that, it’s mostly garbage.

After the novelty wore off, Facebook reminded me why I didn’t stay in touch with almost any of my school classmates. I find that I “do” Facebook in fits and starts. I want nothing to do with it for long periods of time, and then suddenly I’ll be checking it and posting every day. I guess that reflects my existence. I generally try to avoid people and social interaction as much as possible, but then I guess I reach a tipping point when I feel too lonely and isolated and want a cracker barrel to sit around for a short while with others who have some shared experiences and memories from the past.

Whereas Facebook seems to keep you in touch with friends and acquaintances from your past, Twitter is a party line to the world.

And it reinforces my fear of people; especially groups or mobs of people. I loathe groups and/or mobs so much, I’ve never wanted to join one even if the members are in support of something I enthusiastically support. I hate mobs who don’t think like me, and I hate mobs who do think like me. I don’t trust group/mob dynamics whatsoever. I think there’s an inverse relationship between the more people involved and the likelihood the group’s take on things will jibe with the objective truth.

I want nothing to do with any chanting, prancing … let alone violent mob.

Welcome to the modern world we’ve been waiting for. It’s never really very similar to what you imagined. And never nearly as good.

LukeHandCool | June 9, 2018 at 11:14 pm

By the way, Professor J., isn’t it about time for a change?

I mean, I don’t understand why you and the peeps from Instapundit, Powerline, HotAir, AceofSpades, etc., don’t all get together and pool your resources and find investors to back you all and start a media company to compete with Fox. NBC has ideological competitors in ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, WaPo, NYT, etc., but FOX is kind of by itself. It needs some direct competition.

That would also open up the internet thingie to a new generation of young conservative bloggers to prove themselves and stake their claim and pay their dues towards the future. There needs to be a shake up.

Roy in Nipomo | June 9, 2018 at 11:54 pm

I’m on FB. Most of my “friends” fall in one of the following categories: old school friends, family, old shipmates (‘Nam era) or old coworkers. I was raised in a conservative area (a lot of military research) and most coworkers (I worked for a law enforcement agency) are also conservative. Most of the ones who suffer from TDS have pretty much “unfriended” me. I can still have spirited “discussions” with the few liberal FB “friends” left, but without me automatically being called homophobic/racist/sexist/etc. In the early ’90s I ran a BBS and was a FIDO node. I don’t tweet. We just had dinner with a couple we met on FB.

The Friendly Grizzly | June 10, 2018 at 12:00 am

I’m on three separate sites that are for special interests. No tweeting, no Facebook, no Pinterest. And, yes, I recall FidoNet. I got a lot of help learning Turbo Pascal there.

DouglasJBender | June 10, 2018 at 12:05 am

I avoid Twitter like the plague. I am on Facebook, and that allows me to maintain close contact with my girlfriend/fiancee in the Philippines (long story how we got together — God was involved). It also allows me to maintain connections with some friends from high school, a professor from college, and various people I meet (in person or online). I definitely do not feel as lonely or isolated as I did before being on Facebook.

That said, I diligently and fervently pray for a conservative and fair alternative to Facebook.

I’m sorry, but this is serious.

Canada’s Prime Minister just lost one of his eyebrows.

I don’t want to hear another damn thing about Trump’s comb-over

You do realize that this site probably qualifies as social media?

I just keep thinking back to a cartoon I’ve seen once.

“I’ll come to bed in a minute, dear. Somebody out on the internet is wrong and I’m correcting them.”

I created an account on Twitter shortly after it started, but never used it for much. I deleted it when it started banning people.

I’m on Facebook because certain people insist on using it as their only means of communication, but I usually only check it when I get an email alert that someone has sent me a message.

    I don’t have a twitter account but if I read an article that has some twitter links it’s fun to go and look at the tweets. You get a real insight to the wacky way some people think!

    I’m on FaceBook but I just use it to promote my band…
    The most annoying thing about FB is getting the message alert, then when you read the message it’s, “Joe is waving at you, wave back!”…
    I don’t consider that a message…that’s made up FB BS!

      Neo in reply to tgrondo. | June 10, 2018 at 8:13 am

      There is a lot of that on LinkedIn.
      They have gone to creating messages to “tickle” your account.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | June 10, 2018 at 12:57 am

I’ve never had a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account.

Walter Kirn says, “Twitter sells conflict. Instagram sells envy. Facebook sells you.” Seems right. I have no interest in any of it.

Social interactions in general are overrated.

The computer doesn’t make them better.

I have a Facebook account, although I never signed up for it. Apparently at one time Facebook was making unsolicited accounts using obsolete Yahoo e-mail addresses. I ignored it.

Twitter? Not a chance.

I’ve set up and run several bulletin boards or fora, but find that stuff uninteresting nowadays.

I don’t even look at any of my e-mail accounts unless I have to, and sometimes not even then.

I consider peace and quiet to be well worth the effort it takes to find them.

Facebook, Twitter, and so many other social media applications and I use none of them. I don’t even know how to access them or what they claim to do.
Here’s the secret to happiness that I have discovered.
When I retired from work several years ago, I purchased a five acre homestead in the middle of nowhere. I threw away my cell phone, tossed my pager, and eliminated every single electronic leash I ever had. I don’t even have a watch anymore.
I have a bad back that wakes me up every morning about 3 AM so I spend the early morning hours catching up on the news and then the computer is off for the rest of the day. I work outside on the homestead as much as my back allows, I read a lot, any TV I watch tend to be documentaries, I refuse to watch TV news, and I am very active in the little country church I attend. Never before in my life have I ever been so happy nor could I ever have imagined such contentment could ever have existed.
Personally, I cannot imagine the need to be on one’s phone or computer all day long looking for validation from a faceless community of people you will never meet face to face and of whom you have no clue as to their honesty, real morality, or anything else. I cannot imagine how the simple act of clicking on a button could result in your becoming someone else’s friend nor the utter lack of accountability by so many on social media.
For me, it is infinitely more rewarding to go outside and sweat to accomplish something useful, to grow my own food, and to form deep and lasting friendships that are reciprocated by people who I know will be there for me as much as I will always be there for them. It is far better for me to go outside and immediately be reminded how blessed I am and to be so thankful to God for all he has done for me. Of all of those blessings, perhaps the greatest one of all is to not have the endless stream of distractions that are found in the city and that remove my focus from everything that is really important. When I fled the city for my homestead, I knew things would be better; I just had no idea how much better they would or could become.

    IndependentDem in reply to Cleetus. | June 10, 2018 at 7:53 am

    What you have built for yourself sounds temptingly close to my goal. I retire from Uncle Sam’s Foreign Service in 2021 and intend on buying 5 or so acres in the southern Appalachians (NC is my home) to build a different life very similar to what you have described. Best of luck to you.

I don’t “do politics” on my FB feed. It’s where I keep in touch with faraway family, old friends, and former students. If I want politics, I join a group. I’ve never unfriended anyone. I have a Twitter account, but I don’t tweet. There are a couple of clever people whose tweets make me smile.

If I had a vote about what part of the new technology/social media is causing the most problem, I’d cast mine for the cellphone. It’s not FB that’s alienating us from society. Used carefully, it’s the modern way of having a correspondence with people we don’t get to see everyday. But there are people who treat their phone like it’s an addiction. They can’t stay off their phone long enough to share a meal with someone else. Adults sitting side by side and texting instead of talking. Parents who are too afraid to let their kids out of their sight unless there’s a phone for a leash. I take my dog for a long walk everyday, and I don’t take my phone. I have friends who think I’m in imminent danger, but I’ve been walking a dog without a phone everyday for most of my life. I think a cellphone is a wonderful convenience, but like a can opener, we should only take it out of the drawer when we need it. It can call for help when your car breaks down, but it can’t replace having a life.

In all, social media is a depressing place to be.

We need to figure out ways to connect with each other outside those platforms.

So, if social media is an ocean, isn’t LI an island? People that read and comment choose to come here, for various reasons. Prof. Jacobson has indeed created a platform for people to connect. That is my sense of this website.

If I had kids today, I wouldn’t allow them to have smart phones.

IndependentDem | June 10, 2018 at 8:01 am

Facebook is a means to stay in touch with friends, whether from childhood or newly acquired ones as an adult. But, they are actual friends. I never accept friend requests from people I don’t know, or from those with whom it’s more an acquaintanceship than friendship, or a work relationship that I know is just temporary; it seems more genuine that way. And, I’ve stopped almost all politics on Facebook except with people I trust. My Facebook policy is kittens, puppies, and the occasional cute ferret.

Mostly happy.
On FB, I’m part of an actually reasonable political group that actually has decent discussions, for the most part.

And G+ for the Chicago Bears CommUNITY and all of our upcoming Cheese Krushing.

Beyond that tho…. forget it.

Facebook is awful it treats anybody and everybody like autist robots. It has no filters or way of displaying paralanguage. I forbid my children from using it twenty years ago. It was harder on my daughter but my son got it quicker.

Partly because my son is like me men and women communicate differently. A 6’5″ pro material artist fighter/police officer is not used to the discourtesy from anyone. Especially in a small town. It was easier for my son to understand because a man invited to the marine’s boxing team or to join a K-2 stable can see when people are acting like jackanapes and put it down to derangement.

It’s harder for a girl even if her interests are the same as women communicate differently.

Occasionally I’ll forget and engage some enraging buffoon in a comment thread. If my wife notices she always says, “remember they can’t see you.” Other than the chemically impaired, I have never had someone speak to me with discourtesy in person since grade school.

On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog. They also don’t know anything else. That’s why I said by phone or in person. It cut down greatly on teen drama.


    I’m always amazed how even the most innocuous post can invoke the rudest response….

    You could post a pic of puppies and kittens and someone will say, “Screw you and your puppies and kittens…I’ll stomp em with my hobnail boots!!!”
    And if there is some kind of tragic event and you post a, “God have mercy on his/her soul”….there’s always someone with a, “There is no God” comment…

    You’re right, the fact that the poster remains anonymous really brings out the bad in some people.

      *picture of cute kitten hanging off of cage, doing the “I AM INFORMING YOU OF SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!!!” type yowl*

      Five comments of people going “aaaw, cute!” and variations.

      Five paragraph long, poorly formatted screed on how no real cat lover would ever put a cat in a cage, accusations of animal abuse, death wishes to the person who so “abused” the animal…..

      Sadly, I’ve got a lot of relatives that prove that being anonymous– or even just effectively so– isn’t the dividing line. 🙁

      Some people are just confrontational a-holes, as long as they aren’t face to face with you. In person, they get much politer. Usually. Got a few exceptions to that, too, only slight overlap….. (What, doesn’t everyone have That One Uncle, or That Cousin?)

        Foxfier….In my family it was the cousin from Dodge City.
        He was as nice as can be, but after he drank that second beer it was…
        “Ahh…why is cousin Rex cussing out Grandma?”

      forksdad in reply to tgrondo. | June 10, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      Had that happen to us. My wife posted pictures of our latest puppies and our kittens with the moms looking on lovingly.

      We got everything from animal abuse to just plain bad people thrown at us. Weird. We had a ‘pet psychic’ get involved. Who knew those were even a thing?

The Friendly Grizzly | June 10, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Time after time I’ve seen parents so engrossed in tapping or talking on their phones their kids could be ready to jump off a roof and they’d never even notice.

Keep it up, parents. When the daughter is knocked up at 15, or you get that 2am call about Junior having wrapped a car around a tree, you might hang up.

I twitter more these days. Using it like a universal comments section for certain people who tweet a lot and I like what they say.

I don’t do FB as it’s a big timewaster unless you’re sharing with a widespread family then it can have it’s uses.

The both need to be regulated. They’ve made it clear they won’t/can’t be fair and they’ve become to much of a public forum to be allowed to be censored by a private partisan business.

*Checks the “new, more rigorous study” for the obvious mistake*

Yep- they didn’t even consider that social media use might be a result of stuff getting nasty in real life, rather than a cause.

Get sick and can’t go out? You go to social media. Have a falling out with friends? Social media. Get targeted by the IRL haters? Social media.

Same problem as the studies of “screen time” that start out by conflating all exposure to a screen, and picking communities where if the kids are home, they’re sitting and watching TV because the parent(s) are running around trying to keep the house running after a full day of work.

Happier … no.
Better informed … yes.
PO’d … definitely.