Anorak News | I was angry and miserable before Facebook

I was angry and miserable before Facebook

by | 26th, January 2018


Like you, I was angry, unreasonable and irritated by everything before Facebook. But some people think Facebook has affected them badly and it is responsible for them feeling bad. All those photos of other people’s children running in circles, drawing with crayons and doing other amazing things, and adults telling us about their gym trips and how much they love someone they live with is causing us to be deeply depressed.

In the “secret history of Facebook depression”, Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie notes:

In everyday life, we tend to have different sides of ourselves that come out in different contexts. For example, the way you are at work is probably different from the way you might be at a bar or at a church or temple.

Sociologist Erving Goffman used concepts of theatre to explain these different aspects of our identities, for example, front stage and back stage.

But on Facebook, all these stages or contexts were mashed together. The result was what internet researchers called context collapse. People were even getting fired when one aspect of their lives was discovered by another (i.e. their boss!).

In 2008, I found myself speaking with the big boss himself, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. I was in the second year of my Ph.D. research on Facebook at Curtin University. And I had questions.

Why did Facebook make everyone be the same for all of their contacts? Was Facebook going to add features that would make managing this easier?

To my surprise, Zuckerberg told me that he had designed the site to be that way on purpose. And, he added, it was “lying” to behave differently in different social situations.

Up until this point, I had assumed Facebook’s socially awkward design was unintentional. It was simply the result of computer nerds designing for the rest of humanity, without realising it was not how people actually want to interact.

The realisation that Facebook’s context collapse was intentional not only changed the whole direction of my research but provides the key to understanding why Facebook may not be so great for your mental health.

Via, Boing Boing, which headlines the story: “Social scientists have warned Zuck all along that the Facebook theory of interaction would make people angry and miserable.” You left out “more” before miserable.

Posted: 26th, January 2018 | In: Technology Comment | TrackBack | Permalink