Schadenfacebook – When It Comes To Our Lives On Social Media, ‘There’s Always Another Story’

When It Comes To Our Lives On Social Media, ‘There’s Always Another Story’.

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Have you ever looked at a friend’s posts on Facebook or Instagram and wondered what’s really going on in that person’s life? Is it really all delicious meals and adorable kids and fabulous trips overseas, or is there more happening beneath the surface?

For a long time, Rachel Leonard felt pressure to post only positive news about her life. Even photos of the view from her front porch were carefully edited before she shared them.

“If you looked only straight you could see mountains,” she said. “If you looked to the left you’d see a factory, but of course I didn’t take pictures of the factory, because why would you do that?”

Plenty of us follow a similar strategy on social media. Posts about engagements and babies will receive ravenous applause. News about a grandparent passing away will elicit virtual hugs. But fears about not making rent? Marital tensions? Hesitations about becoming a parent? Those sorts of posts – posts that show ambivalence – are verboten.

It turns out, all our social media curation is having an effect – both on the people sharing these posts, and on those reading them. Many studies have shown that people who use social media frequently appear to be unhappier than those who don’t.

But until recently, it was impossible to say whether this was correlation or causation. Do lonely people spend more time on social media in an effort to escape their loneliness? Or is social media itself causing people to feel isolated?

A recent study at Tel Aviv University has provided what may be the first experiment to sort out causation from correlation.

This week, we’ll learn the results of that study and others exploring how social media can shape the way we view our friends’ lives, and our own.

Hidden Brain is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt, Rhaina Cohen, and Renee Klahr, and Chloe Connelly. Our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.

This program was first broadcast on NPR’s Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantam on 17 April  2017

The Personality Myth

We like to think of our own personalities, and those of our family and friends as predictable, constant over time. But what if they aren’t? What if nothing stays constant over a lifetime?

Personality Myth

Personality is often seen as destiny. Whether you’re a famous CEO like Steve Jobs or a serial criminal like Hannibal Lecter, most of us think that our position in life has a lot to do with our personality. This episode looks more closely at this belief. We start at a Court House where lines of people who are getting married describe the personality of the person with whom they are to be joined for life. Then travel to a prison in Ohio where a woman has struck up a work relationship with a prisoner who it turns out did something far worse than she imagined. Finally Lulu talks to a scientist to come up with a complete catalogue of all the things about us that actually do stay stable over the course of our lives. They look at everything from cells to memories until ultimately they come up with a list — but it’s a really short list.

This program was first broadcast on NPR by LuLu Miller on 24 June 2016

The ghost in my brain

When a professor of artificial intelligence had disturbing brain injury symptoms as a result of a concussion, he lost his former self—but encouraged by the potential of brain plasticity he changed the course of his life.

Clark Elliot

Professor of Artificial Intelligence,
DePaul University,

This program was first broadcast on ABC’s Radio National by Lynne Malcolm on 1 May 2016