Social Media and Emotional Engineering

Mad at Facebook for manipulating your news feed? Maybe it wasn’t. Read our post on image crafting and have your say.

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Earlier this year it was found that Facebook was running experiments on their users, manipulating the sorts of posts that appeared on their feed in order to see if it affected their mood, and subsequently the things that they then posted.

Funnily enough, they found that more positive news made people happier, and more likely to post positive statuses, and likewise for bad. Facebook subsequently got into hot water with users for manipulating them, but need they have? Seems to me that anyone could have told you that negative and positive moods are catching without having to run any experiments, but hey.

In any case, I’m not sure why people got upset with Facebook for carrying out such an experiment – in fact a poll by The Guardian found that 63% of people surveyed didn’t know or couldn’t tell if their feed had been manipulated. This just goes to show that this sort of manipulation is exactly what social media users do to each other anyway. I can’t say whether all the posts in my feed being positive makes me happier or whether I’d be sadder if they were all negative, but that’s probably because most people post such self-serving statuses that it’s just frustrating. If you haven’t heard the name for this before, I’m surprised – it’s defined as ‘image crafting’.

This article sums image crafting up as: ‘…the narcissistic approaches many users are taking on social media in order to control the way others view their life.’

A status post is a snapshot of someone’s life. One quick sentence and you can make your life look shiny, and fun and filled with nothing but laughter. Or you can make it look excitingly dramatic. Or intriguing. Or fulfilling. Or superior… the list goes on. But regardless, not only is it deceptive, it’s posts like these which frustrate and vex users – so much so that it causes them to post less and less. Just take a look at these seven ways to be insufferable on Facebook, and tell me you haven’t read posts which fall into one of these categories – and find them incredibly annoying.

NB/ Read this post and its updated version, and delete any of your friends that do any of these….

Funnily enough, a friend of mine said the other day that she deleted Facebook about nine months ago, precisely because of posts like these, and apparently she doesn’t miss it at all.

Clearly, people don’t want to feel bad about themselves, or spend most of their time annoyed at their friends, which is perhaps why there seems to be a surge of new social platforms arising, such as Whisper and Ello. And people are migrating. Maybe it’s because these platforms do not enable users to image craft so blatantly and crassly – yet.

I do wonder though whether these social media platforms will end up going down the same route – pictures of your dinner and selfies are already old hat. Maybe it’s time to spend more time talking, not typing?

What do you think? Has social media had its day? Or is it just evolving?

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