In today’s episode, we cover social media’s impact on mental health with Dr Brian Primack. Brian is the dean of the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, the professor of public health and medicine, and is the author of You Are What You Click: How Being Selective, Positive, and Creative Can Transform Your Social Media Experience.
Science is showing us that social media use in any dose can have detrimental effects on our mental health, so what can we do to ensure we have a positive experience on social media and protect ourselves and those we care about its effects?
What to Listen For
- Introduction – 0:00
- What amount of social media use won’t increase the risk for mental health issues?
- Social Media vs Traditional Media – 11:37
- What does “You are what you click” mean?
- How are social media algorithms working against your mental health and what can you do about it?
- What are the two things we can control while using social media that limit the harm it does to us?
- Do different platforms have different impacts? – 21:47
- Does the number of social media platforms you use impact your risk for mental health issues?
- What can you do to have a positive experience on social media so you’re not negatively impacting your mental health every time you log in?
- How much impact does social media use have on your quality of sleep and what can you do about it?
- The damage of constantly comparing yourself to others – 31:00
- Why is it bad for you to constantly be looking at the highlight reels of other people’s lives and what strategies can you use to overcome the harm?
- What effect do parasocial relationships have on your mental health?
- Social media, misinformation, and disinformation – 42:17
- How do the algorithms used by social media lead to drastically different perceptions of who you know and the world around you?
- What can we do to guard our own mental health as well as the people we care about who aren’t aware of the dangers of social media use?
The simplest way to prevent the harm done to us by social media use is to stop using social media altogether. But that’s easier said than done for many people, so what can you do if eliminating social media from your life isn’t feasible?
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Resources from this Episode
- You Are What You Click by Brian Primack
- Brian Primack’s website
- You Are What You Click Personality Quiz
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Speaker 1: Today, we are super excited to have Dr. Brian Primack with us. Dr. Premack is an internationally acclaimed behavioral scientist and social media expert. He's a medical researcher who studies social media and its connection to mental health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and loneliness, his new book. You are what you click, how being selective positive and creative can transform your social media experience just came out and we're excited to chat about it. In this book, he introduced his strategies to fine tune your online experience and create a healthy balance. Now, if you've listened to the show for years, you know that Johnny and I at times have had our issues with social media. And that's why we're excited to get Brian strategies today to help us use social media to our advantage. Welcome to the show Dr. Primack.
Speaker 2: Now, if you've been a super fan of the show, you know that Johnny and I have railed against social media and the negative impacts our clients have seen in their lives, but we didn't have much more than anecdotal evidence to go on. So we're so excited to have Brian Primack with us today to talk about what that real impact is at a scientific level of social media. Many of us may fall in the trap of comparison, or just overdoing it on social media. And I'd love to kick off today, Brian, but just talking a little bit about what got you interested in studying the impacts of social.
Speaker 3: Yeah, it's a great question. And I wasn't so interested at the beginning, we had been studying a lot of other media types, video games, uh, films, um, I mean, always interested in the impact on health, but social media and mental health really came about very organically. Um, I was a family practitioner for 18 years and whenever there was an emotional health condition, there almost was always a story that had something to do with social media. Um, and so I think that it, the research questions came about exactly the right way, which is that in a very authentic, organic, uh, way.
Speaker 2: Yeah. Kind of like how social media is now propagating in our lives very organically. And there's almost so many platforms you can't even keep track of them all. And we're going to dig really deeply into a lot of the research, but I'd love just at the start here to know what surprised you the most and all of the research that you did in social media.
Speaker 3: Well, you know, when we first set out to look for associations between media and social media exposures and, um, mental health outcomes, things like depression and anxiety and, and, you know, loneliness, we did not expect there to be sort of a direct linear relationship, like what we found. Um, we expected there to be more of like a U shaped, uh, relationship. In other words, we expected there to be sort of a Goldilocks spot in the middle, that perfect little dip of the U, which is the, you know, th the, you know, if you use just 47 minutes a day, then, uh, your maximum you're minimizing your list, likelihood of depression, you're minimizing your likelihood of, uh, anxiety. And so that's what we set out to do was to find where that sweet spot was. But when the data actually rolled in, it was a straight line going up, there was no, you, um, th the, you is sort of like, well, maybe at really low levels of social media, there's more depression. And it really high levels of social media. There's more depression and there's a sweet spot in the middle. That's not what we found. What we found was basically a straight line that every increase of social media was associated with an, uh, with a consequent or, you know, uh, some hype of increase in depression, anxiety, loneliness, just about any, uh, outcome that we looked at. So that was a surprise.
Speaker 2: Absolutely. And I think we were all sort of searching for that Goldilocks moment where we could just get 15 minutes a day or 20 minutes a day and not have any negative impacts on our mental health.
Speaker 4: Just something to add there and with waiting for that Goldilocks moment. I, the power of social media, I think became relevant to everybody in the, in the last few years. And with that came a giant fight over the control over that power. And not only that, I think there's a lot of folks that are trying to fix everything that has went wrong with it as well. And what we're all feeling is somewhat of a, a tug of war between the powers that be of, of controlling it, fixing it, how to use it, uh, for, for the betterment of mankind and civilization. I mean, we're, we're faced with all of these different forces and the effect that I seem to see and think about is everyone come running in to help or to take advantage of the situation. And because of that, we're all dealing with that tug of war. And it's just, it's getting increasingly more and more out of control control.
Speaker 3: Yeah, no, I completely agree. It's one of these things because you absolutely want to try to find the positive because conceptually, theoretically, you know, of course there should be some, you know, possibility for positive. I mean, absolutely. We've all had moments of connection on social media. Um, certainly there can be, uh, opportunities for warmth and for generosity, but at the same time, you know, it's this double-edged sword, it can also breed feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation. So the question becomes, how do we balance the challenges with the benefits? And I think just because we found that using more social media, at least in our sample was pretty much always associated with at least at an increased risk. It doesn't mean that every single person who used social media became depressed, it just means that, you know, that was certainly a risk factor for them.
Speaker 3: That doesn't mean that there isn't a possible positive way to use it for society. You know, it, at one point it's just, we're not there yet as a society. Um, you know, so that's why the book came about was saying, well, you know, we need some practical evidence-based as much as possible suggestions on how to maximize that value. And then hopefully we can redo the study later on and see if people are using a better, uh, you know, if it's less of the wild west and everyone's just kind of doing everything, um, if they, if people are doing things with a little bit more guidance, if that is going to, you know, to, to ultimately be positive. I mean, I'll just say one more thing. I realize I'm kind of going on here a little bit, but it's, it's kinda like a, a, a giant buffet, right?
Speaker 3: If you just put out every food in the world and you just let people loose on it, right. They're probably not going to make the best choices, especially when it's brand new and they don't even, oh my gosh, this is so exciting. This is so amazing. And of course, we've got all of the marketers and we've got all of the platforms trying to make us stick as much as possible to exactly what is going to pad their pockets, which is more time on and more, um, you know, uh, more engagement with larger numbers of people for individual users that very well might mean more chance of a GAF, more chance of a misunderstanding, you know, less, a real positive emotional, you know, uh, work. However, um, that's what people are doing these days. So we need to figure out a way to get better suggestions and ideas to people so that they can potentially use this for benefit.
Speaker 4: I think that's one of the most important things for everyone to realize. And it's, it goes back to the Calhoun experiment. It's the, the rat utopia. You have everything you need. I mean, what's going to happen if you put all of us in front of a buffet without any discipline. So now we have an abundance of information and look at what it has done to us without thinking about using any discipline towards it. And now I think we're all reeling back on, okay, well that running up to the buffet and gorging as much as possible, certainly didn't help our situation whatsoever. And now everyone's trying to figure out what is the best way to discipline ourselves and use it. And certainly your book goes in much depth and all of those situations,
Speaker 2: We're just going to say the title of the book is you are what you click. And I don't know that everyone in our audience has a firm grasp on how the algorithms work and what this attention economy is that you're talking about. So if you could share a little bit around how these algorithms work and how this is different than traditional media and what you mean by you are what you call.
Speaker 3: Yeah, no, it's a great question. Um, so, you know, some people will open a social media page and they'll look at it and they'll just sort of experience it and they'll think, oh, well, you know, that message came up first. So that must be my best friend, or that must be the message that is, you know, the most relevant to me and the one that's going to make me the happiest and the, and the most satisfied. Um, but it couldn't really be more far from the truth. In other words, when we teach media literacy or social media literacy to young people, we, we have, we want them to understand when they opened their social media platform, that if it's a shade of blue, that shade of blue was like determined in very precise, um, experiments. If there is a little being that accompanies like a message coming on the pitch of that, the decay of that, the kind of wave form that it is, was determined very, very precisely.
Speaker 3: And, um, when we are, uh, you know, it's not like you turn on a television and it's the same message that's coming to everybody, you know, um, who's watching CBS at 9:00 PM Eastern time. You know, it, it is, uh, extremely different and it is very much tailored, not just to the individual, but to the individual in a way that will maximize profits. So for example, if, if there are a couple of messages that are being sent at one point, and one of them is, is a really good friend of yours that you care about and want to hear what's going on with them, but they don't have a lot of contacts. And the, what they put in the message doesn't have any words, it like car or computer that, that can be used to, you know, match an advertisement to it or sell something. That message is not going to come up first, the message that pops up first is going to be the one that is more likely to have you either, you know, going down some kind of a rabbit hole so that you stay stuck to the platform longer.
Speaker 3: Um, that that idea of stickiness is a very, very important social marketing, um, and you know, social media marketing idea, anything to increase stickiness. We want people to stay as long as possible. That moment that they're thinking of leaving, you know, I mean, we've all been on a website before and like, literally you start to move the mouse toward the X. And then all of a sudden it says, wait, wait, you know, and that kind of thing is going on all the time on social media. And so a truly social media literate person is, is realizing that they're experiencing, um, this platform, not just as like, oh, this is the way it is in the world. Um, they realize that there is a lot of algorithm and a lot of science behind that.
Speaker 4: One of the things that you had put in the book was some questions to ask when you are seeing some of this, uh, advertising just to help you through it. And I think we've reached a point with media that we, that I think that everyone should take a marketing class. So they understand the depths at which they can reach. And I've talked to people about this before, and even when I've talked about predictive marketing or any of these other things, they're there they're mind blown and they don't even realize just how deep it goes. But because age and I have to do marketing for our company and we work with marketers, we're always fascinated and not only the depth, but at what levels it is reaching certain emotions. And most of the time, you're not even consciously aware of them. And, and at least if you've taken a marketing class, you can sort of understand some of the mechanisms that are at play.
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Speaker 2: I will. I want to frame this. There's sort of two conversations here that are important. Number one is this idea that it's researched. We are the research subjects. We just don't know it. So when we say research, people think, oh, white lab coats, and there's probably a group of volunteers in a room. No, that's not. What's actually happening. They're gathering all this data in real time. And they're using the data to diagnose behaviors, to guide behaviors in a way that makes them more money. So our attention is being used in this experiment. We haven't opted in, we just signed up for the site. It's a free platform and we are giving them our attention. And through that, they're able to tell a lot about our behavior. That's an important point. The second part in this is that many of us interact with these apps. And especially in the beginning, when you know, Facebook came out, it was the timeline we interact with these apps thinking that it's just a logical progression. And what we're seeing in front of us is sort of in a real timeline as if that's how the world works. And what you're saying is that's really not the case any longer, this isn't happening in real time, the algorithms are feeding us the information that they hope will keep us on the site longer, because the more time we spend on the site, the more likely we are to interact with advertisers who are paying for our attention and therefore these platforms can monetize us and make money off of it.
Speaker 3: Exactly. And so then the, the, the magic question becomes having this kind of awareness that you're talking about right now, which is kind of fun to hear about. It's kind of cool. It's kind of interesting, but does it really make me more likely to make better choices or not? And that's one thing that we've been studying in our research for years now, because we've been studying social media and things like, uh, you know, tobacco advertising, you know, so, you know, like, uh, so, and media literacy and things like tobacco advertising. So for example, um, if I know if I'm the kind of person that just kind of lets the advertisement wash over me, and I just kind of have this sort of subconscious feeling like, you know, smoking is, um, you know, cool and refreshing and, you know, X, Y, and Z, um, versus somebody who looks at it very specifically and says, oh, I know why the font is so slim because they're subconsciously trying to make me feel.
Speaker 3: They know that people in my age group want to be thinner. And so that's why the font of the letters is thin. And, and when I look at the, you know, Virginia Slims, I know that there's actually no company called Virginia Slims. The company's called Phillip Morris, and they've actually changed their name to Altria because they want to sound more altruistic. And so all of a sudden, you know, I've got all this magical knowledge back there, but am I any less likely to actually want to smoke? And, and it's still is an open question. I mean, we certainly have found some successes in media literacy, and we do find that people can learn media literacy and that sometimes their attitudes and norms change. And they're not as likely to say, Hey, wait a second. But the question is, if you, and I know that the message that's put up for us is, um, you know, not the number one message we should be seeing if we know that every single person out there is putting one in a thousand photos up, and that that is not their real life.
Speaker 3: This is just, you know, a very, very curated situation. Does it make us okay now? Or do we still feel inferior? And do we still do social comparison, even though we, we have that knowledge. So this is one of, I think that critical questions, because I'm always thinking about solutions. You know, I want to be able to have the positive things, but then I also want to, you know, not be as likely to fall down rabbit holes of depression and comparison and anxiety and all that kind of stuff. And, um, we still haven't really figured that out, but that's an important task. So that
Speaker 2: Two things that we can control as users is our attention as in, when we log in and when we log off and also what we're actually interacting with when we are logged in and getting back to the title of the book with a level of intentionality, you can control the amount of usage and you could also control what the algorithm starts to interact with and show you so that you can start to pull out some of the positive impacts, but we are fighting an uphill battle.
Speaker 3: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and that is where the specific three elements of the pyramid, um, came from the, you know, it's, it's, it's actual instructions, you know, positively framed, be selective, be positive, be creative. And the, the attempt is to say that, um, you know, yes, selectivity, for example, in part it's about, um, the amount of time, I guess, that you use, but it's also how you engage that time. So for example, I we've conducted a study and we looked at does the number of platforms you use independently predict things like depression, even if you take out of the equation, the amount of time that you're spending. So let's say for example, you spend two hours a day on social media and I do also. So we use exactly the same amount of time, but you divide that among two platforms. And I divide that among seven platforms, right?
Speaker 3: I mean, it really was an open question as to which of these situations is, you know, better, which is more problematic. Uh, I mean, you could think, well, maybe seven platforms is just too much to handle. On the other hand, you might say seven platforms. I, you know, maybe I'm going to have more benefit. I'm going to find, you know, a larger group of people or be more likely to find the right people or, you know, whatever. But what we found in that study was even when you control, so exactly the same amount of time, the person with seven platforms using, you know, uh, over the course of a standard week versus focusing on two was more than three times as likely to be depressed. And so the idea is that it's not just the amount of time. It's also what specific activities are we doing when we get there.
Speaker 3: So selective selecting those particular platforms, um, as an example, is something that, you know, you can do, that's a little bit more nuanced and right there, you're reducing your risk of certain things. Now it doesn't mean that it goes down to zero and of course there's a lot of other things to figure out. And then of course, we also need to figure out why. I mean, you know, what is it about seven platforms versus two? Well, you know, it's probably that each platform is very idiosyncratic and, you know, you kind of get to know it. Like you get to know a group of friends and, you know, in high school, it's really hard to be friends with seven groups of people. You know, it, that's why it's, you know, people generally have a couple groups of people that they know, well, they're the less likely to make a GAF. They're more likely to know sort of what those unwritten rules are. And, and so I think that that may be partially what's going on here, but we as scientists, you know, we want to figure out why, and then we want to try to make people's lives better as quickly as possible.
Speaker 2: So it sounds like limiting the number of platforms is a great place to start with being selective in that first step. Any other sort of great tips for us on the selectivity side of things that can help support a more
Speaker 3: Positive experience on social? Yeah, no, it's, it's a really good question. Um, well, I S I think sleep is probably a big deal because we're, we're learning more and more about sleep and how connected it is with, you know, just so many emotional things and physical things about our lives. And we, for example, found in a separate study that we published in the, uh, the top sleep journal just called sleep. Um, that, those last 30 minutes before bedtime, if you're using during those last 30 minutes, you're significantly more likely to, um, you know, have bad sleep. But interestingly, it also is a predictor, the amount that you're using during the day, aside from those last 30 minutes, however, the, the, um, the, the effect was about the same, like the all-day effect or the last 30 minutes. So at the very least, we say to people, try to, you know, avoid those last 30 minutes, take those 30 minutes and put them somewhere else.
Speaker 3: That way you're still having some time, but it's not doing things to your sleep centers that might be problematic. And, you know, there's arguments all the time on what exactly those challenges with the sleep centers are. You know, some people say, oh, is it the blue light that's being emitted from my, you know, device that says that that signals my pineal gland to wake up at exactly the wrong time. Um, yes, you've heard that, but see, the thing is like part of that might be propagated by the industry, because what they're doing is now putting a little filter on the thing and saying, Hey, what we're doing is automatically after the, you know, a certain time we're going to shade everything more toward the red orange side of the spectrum. So Johnny, don't worry, you can do as much social media as late as you want. You know, whereas it might actually not just be the blue light. It might also just be that it's hyping us up. I mean, it's making us anxious about things. It's, you know, getting us worried about things right before we go to bed,
Speaker 4: We have the, the benefit of, of scrolling to, to be stimulated. We're not scrolling to bore ourselves or to go to bed, horse growling, to get enticed, to get, uh, to find something that stimulates us. I mean, and, and certainly when you understand how important the attention economy is to the folks on the other side of that, who are building these things, whether it's malice or not, it's, it's, it still affects us and they, and they want it and they're, and they're fighting over it. And though the thing to understand is, well, if, if one social media site decides to lay off, they're just giving that time to, to the other, uh, social media sites who are going to be a bit more advantageous
Speaker 3: About
Speaker 2: That. And even traditional media knows this. I mean, even before the advent of social media, if it bleeds, it leads to no newspapers world saying it was an average day, and tomorrow's going to be slightly more average that cell that does get our attention and this concept doom, scrolling, getting riled up. You know, many of us, we felt it during the pandemic we wanted use instantly. We were going to some media to find, and we were all thing ourselves, spend more time on this porn, because we worried about this worldwide pandemic. So this concept of the mean world syndrome you introduced in the book it's been in traditional media, and now we have social media and bluffing it. So part of the argument is based on human nature, we want it bar attention, things that are outraged filled that have some strong emotion to it. Don't go to the movies, watch a boring average, right? We're not going to tune social media. If they're average, the argument is they're just feeding human nature. So how much are we lame? And all of that with the main worlds drum and now starting to amplifying.
Speaker 3: So they're feeding human nature. However, think about humans and nature, you know, uh, 10 generations ago, right? I mean, we were, you know, exposed to a dangerous event and we would get a little high from that dangerous event. Right. You know, like all of a sudden the lion is attacking, right. My village. And, you know, we've got to do something about that. And, and it's natural to sort of get that little adrenaline high that comes along with, you know, that attack so that you can avoid the attack. But that system that, you know, evolved over millennia, um, was not evolved to deal with the lion attacking every four minutes. And that is what it is like. So for example, there was a study ride right after nine 11. Um, it was in journal of the American medical association. And, um, what they did was they looked at what were the biggest predictors after nine 11 of actually getting post-traumatic stress disorder.
Speaker 3: And some of the variables they looked at was, was it having lived in New York city or Washington DC? Was it actually having been in the building? Was it being, uh, you know, when, you know, collapsed, was it having a family member in the building or in the police department or something like that. And what they found was the strongest predictor of who would get post-traumatic stress disorder was how much television you watched in the two days following the incident. In other words, if you were in the middle of Iowa and, you know, had nothing to do with, you know, didn't know any individuals who were actually there in the building, but you watched 48 hours straight of television, right? You were actually more likely to get [inaudible] post-traumatic stress disorder than people who really experienced it because those people experienced it once they experienced a horrific event, but you experienced it over and over and over again in Technicolor with audio, with, you know, the, the titles flashing, wait a second, we have new news and new information. So I think that there's, there is something parallel here is that yes. You know, we are evolved to, um, you know, our human nature. It's normal to, you know, get a little bit of an adrenaline high from a challenge. It's just not normal to have those, you know, constant stimulating messages, whether it's negative stimulation, if it bleeds, it leads or whether it's positive stimulation, Hey, look at all of these perfect bodies and perfectness around me. And I'm just not as good either way. We're just not made for that.
Speaker 2: I certainly agree with the comparison part. I'd like to unpack that a little bit more because I know everyone in our audience feels it. And we're now living in a world where by pulling out a device, that's ubiquitous, that's in our pocket. We can see inside each other's houses, we can see what someone is doing on this fantastic trip. We can see highlight reels of complete strangers. And now we're not only comparing ourselves to our social circle, to our community, we're comparing ourselves to the entire world. And that is certainly having a mental health impact. So what is the research showing us there around comparison, specifically, setting aside all of the news and the doom scrolling and what strategies do the science show that can really help us overcome this comparison?
Speaker 3: Yeah, no, it's a great question. And comparison is very interesting because, um, there's another double whammy that unfortunately we are experiencing that makes this very problematic. Okay. I know, I know as if, as if we didn't have a, you know, enough, um, alright, so there's always been comparison, right. You know, you go into a classroom and somebody is better looking or has better, you know, um, you know, clothing or something than, than, than you do. Um, you, you know, you go to work and, you know, someone's got a better car, you know, something like that. Advertising then came after, you know, sort of just our regular social interactions and all of a sudden you're able to see that, you know, wow, that model is really, really good looking and definitely has a better car than I do. However, there's still a sort of a part of the human being that doesn't necessarily compare yourself to, you know, Brad Pitt, well, at least in my case, I mean, so you, instead we are meant to, and we see this in the animal kingdom as well, you know, baboons will compare themselves to other baboons that are like them, and they will try to do the same things that those similar baboons did, or they will decide not to do things that other baboons like them didn't do, but the other kind of baboons or that other kind of animal, I don't necessarily follow.
Speaker 3: So in my case, for example, you know, I, I, uh, I'm 52, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm pretty small. I'm not extremely, you know, like sports inclined. So I'm not going to really compare myself to Aaron Rogers. I'm not going to be all bummed that I don't have a quarterback rating of a hundred in 15 seasons. Right. You know, that's not going to upset me. However, if one of my friends is running a 5k twice as fast as I am, that is going to upset me. In other words, we, we tend to have more challenges and we tend to compare ourselves more and more problematically to people who are in our demographic, uh, you know, sort of groups. And so what this means is that you've got this real double whammy with social media. First of all, I don't, I'm not friends with Aaron Rogers. I'm not friends with Warren buffet, so I'm not comparing myself to, you know, his portfolio.
Speaker 3: But on the other hand, I am friends with, you know, other people that are like me, and if they've got a, a bigger house or a better car or a boat or something that does, you know, sort of mean more of a challenge for me mentally. Um, and so what that means is that I'm comparing myself to exactly the group that I'm most sensitive to, but I'm not seeing them realistically, because they are all showing me one in 500 pictures. So it, I, I know that person, I know John, right? So I'm like, oh, that's John, but it's not really John. It's like an idealized version of John. It's like super John, you know? And so I really shouldn't be comparing myself to that, but I do. And so therein lies the problem and why I think the social comparison is such, is such an issue is that it's, it's very, very curated, um, you know, well-produced images, but it's also about the people and the situations that I directly am programmed to compare myself to
Speaker 4: The things that I've found interesting in reading the book, you are bringing this up, but I could also help her recognize that a lot of the relationships that we build online are nonreciprocal right. Like I've built a relationship with this YouTuber content I watch and who's blogging about their day and, and I've connected to this person, but they don't have any, I don't even exist to them. Right. And so the, that relationship is one way, and I'm, I'm curious to know, uh, if, if that not being reciprocated affects us in, in any manner. I mean, we certainly, we leave comments. We, we, we, maybe we write them to try to get some attention to say that we enjoy their work and that we're here and how much their work means to us. But I'm sure that has to play some sort of role mentally as if we are so connected with them, but yet, but yet we are, we are so far away from them.
Speaker 3: It definitely does. And we actually have some science around this. So for example, we did a study, um, and published it that demonstrated that, um, the number of your friends who are not face to face that number is directly related to depression. So for example, if we say to a group of people, Hey, what percentage of your friends, you know, that you, that you interact with regularly on social media? You know, what percentage of those people are? People you've never met? Face-to-face well, you know, for some people it's very little, you know, they kind of stick to just the people. They know it might be 5%, it might be zero. It might be 10%. However, the average in our study was 35%. So some people are walking around and 50, 60% of the people, and this was a nationally representative study. So 50 or 60% of the people that they are interacting with on social media, they've never actually met face to face.
Speaker 3: And what we found is that for every 10% increment, there's a significant likelihood that that person will be more depressed. And the idea is, I think, related to what you're talking about, Johnny, in the sense that if you're not being reciprocated, and if you don't really know what that person is like in real life, you know, then you don't really have reality to temper some of the curating that's going on on social media. If you know the person in, you know, in real life and you see this beautiful picture of them, but you know that there's a double chin there because you've seen that double chin in real life, then you're kind of like, okay, you know, oh, that's you, you look so great. But on the other hand, if you've never seen that in real life, then you're thinking, oh my gosh, you know, every single person out there just is so fit and trim and, and great. Um, and so I think that that's at least partially related to, to what you're pointing out.
Speaker 4: Well, certainly, and I think this is also I age and I go to such great lengths within our programs. We hold, uh, masterminds and get together quarterly so that our participants and for our own benefit, get the meat phase. The phase of the people we've been working with, and it not only solidifies those relationships, it solidifies the community and it offers more investment for our clients success and for them to F to feel good for everything that they are, they are investing in themselves.
Speaker 2: And I know for our X-Factor members, when we talk about wins, it's very easy to, to build up a highlight reel of all the other participants and to feel that everyone else is winning, but you're not that you're falling behind. And then when you get to spend time together in a room and actually interact with one another, you really start to see the full picture that we're not seeing online. We don't have that level of resolution. And, you know, I'm either fortunate or unfortunate to live in LA and be surrounded by influencers. And I've seen influencers in the wild and seeing how much time effort and energy goes into curating a photo shoot or a video shoot to get that one snapshot and all the effort that goes behind the scenes to realize, well, I don't really want to be an influencer. I don't want to put in that level of effort, but if all I'm doing is following influencers and all I'm doing is interacting in this online space.
Speaker 2: I'm really setting myself up for not only the comparison, but then also to feel really disconnected from reality. So what I wanted to touch on it, and Johnny and I have talked about this a little bit. So we had Eric Weinstein and we were talking about how John is experienced in the algorithm is different than my experience in the algorithm. And at times it's caused friction and we're really great friends and business partners, and we've both had to unplug and be like, okay, well, what's reality here because now I realize that I'm living in this algorithm and the world as it's being painted is a certain color for me and a certain color for Johnny based on what he's clicking and interacting with. And he was encountering news stories that I hadn't even heard of. He was hearing narratives that I had never come into contact with and we're approaching Thanksgiving. And we all have those family members who live on Facebook, who live in conspiracy theory, Ville, and can actually fray real relationships in real life because of what we're consuming and social media, what is the science telling us around what's happening with misinformation, disinformation and how it's fraying our real social ties, the connections we have built in real life.
Speaker 3: It's a critical issue. And, you know, piggybacking on everything that you're saying, I mean, I would even go as far as to say, um, who are you a J I mean, because I see you in one way on this platform, and I see you in a, this in a different way in person, and I see you in a different way on this other platform and you yourself probably almost inhabit a different persona in each of these different areas. I mean, it's always been a little bit of a challenge because, you know, we present ourselves to our parents and our teachers very differently than we present ourselves to our best friends say, right. But you still have this sort of, bit of core of identity, but I think related to what you're saying, we have such different experiences because this one is associated with this algorithm and this one is associated with this algorithm. We can even be thinking, wondering at this point kind of who exactly are we, I think a 2.0, step above, you know, old identity formation challenges, 1.0 was still difficult. I still had to figure out who I was, you know, with this group of friends versus this group of friends. But I think that the, the, the sort of tech world has as, as put that up, even another level.
Speaker 4: It's interesting. Um, and talking about that, and, and one thing that some of us have have been dealing with is no matter what platform you might be using your success or virility your, your content going viral depends on how the algorithms are being used. So how I might interact with somebody on one platform is going to be different on interacting with somebody else, not only just due to what that platform is and what it's designed for, but how the algorithms choose and use and put your stuff out there. Of course, when we see things on Twitter, those the most, uh, craziest than, and contrarian certainly get spread much farther than say what is going to happen on Instagram and how we use those. Both of those platforms are incredibly different, which paints, I didn't completely different picture of who that person is.
Speaker 2: Well, one thing that is happening, and I know Instagram has started to roll this out, but what we're talking about here is you in effect are rewarded based on your behaviors that you exhibit on these platforms, you get direct real-time feedback. So I would walk in a classroom and I couldn't read my teacher's mind. I would know how she's perceiving me that day. I'm just trying my best to, to maintain in the box, to get a great grade. But now you go on Instagram and you know, how many people are liking your photo? You know, what gets comments? You know, I can go on Snapchat and I can either Chipotle label and talk to the crowd and I'll get people watching it, but that's not going to work on Instagram. That's not going to get the likes with me eating with my mouth open. So each platform has these, these different, uh, personas and avatars that they reward. And we're now getting this information back in real time. And we, it does feel like we are losing our identity. So what is the science saying around this direct feedback and data loop that we're getting around likes and comments and engagement.
Speaker 3: So it's a great question. And I would say that the science really hasn't caught up to the theory. In other words, you know, like how do you do experiments like that? How do you say, what would society have been like if we didn't have an internet, right? You can't really do that study, you know, and you can't even really imagine it. And so you just have to, you know, sort of think about these things as much as possible and, um, and, and try to, you know, figure out. But I, I think you're absolutely right. I mean, I would say that, you know, all of a sudden your identity is being shaped in so many different ways. You know, it's being shaped by other people's likes, it's being shaped by what fits in a particular, um, square it's being shaped by, you know, just the size of my camera and, you know, et cetera. And, you know, I mean, identity has always been shaped by, you know, certain societal constraints. It's not like we could all be anything at any moment. It's just that this has definitely changed the equation. And I think that, you know, psychologists and, um, you know, if they're not, for example, asking people about, uh, you know, if they're seeing a patient who's depressed or anxious, and they're not talking about their social media persona, I, and, and how that affects them and what they do, then I think they're missing a big opportunity. Well,
Speaker 2: We are getting to a place with the recent announcement from Metta of a metaverse, where we can in real time change our entire identity and the way people perceive us in this virtual world. I don't think we have enough time or the research certainly isn't there yet around how that's going to change and shift things. But for many in our audience, this data is probably not shocking. We've encountered it. We felt those pegs of comparison and the doom scrolling from the pandemic. And I want to get back a little bit more to the intentionality that we can bring to the equation. And I know before we started chatting, you had shared that you had also talked on some shows around parents. And I know many of our clients who have children are very concerned about social media use. And when you look at the release of the Facebook papers and their research around the impact for young women's mental health, you see what China is doing to combat the amount of time spent on social media. You know, what can we do one ourselves to guard our own mental health? And to, for those that we really love and care about, whether they be family members who are falling into these traps or do young children that we are raising in our lives.
Speaker 3: Yeah. So I've got, you know, a specific section in the book on parenting. And what we do is go through the fact that this be selective, be positive, be creative, sort of set of ideas, um, is likely also to be beneficial in that particular mill you, so for example, when it comes to this idea of be creative, it's not about, you know, arts and crafts, which is what we think of when we think of, you know, the word creative, it's more about being a creator as opposed to a consumer. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to, you know, create your own show like you guys did, although it probably is valuable, right? Because you're really expressing yourselves, right. You're gaining benefit from this, uh, creative activity because you understand, you know, a level that other people don't necessarily, because you've had to learn how to, to, to, to really massage these different technologies in different ways.
Speaker 3: So there's also a chapter in the book called program, or be programmed. And, you know, this is something that I did with my kids is that I, I said, yeah, you can have whatever you want. You can have a, a cell phone, you can have a, uh, you know, uh, a laptop or whatever, but you need to be able to program it first. And I don't just mean like, turn it on. I mean, like, you need to know HTML, you know, because then, and CSS, because then whatever you see, um, you know, you're going to sort of understand how it came about. I mean, you might not know everything because, you know, there's a lot of other complexities. And so, you know, I made my kids learn on my computer, how to program starting in, uh, scratch, which is this, this language that MIT created, which is, uh, you know, great.
Speaker 3: And they learn to create their own games. And then when they could create their own games, I said, okay, you can have your own laptop now. And I do think that it made a difference in the sense that they were being more, um, they, they were exercising their own creativity and their own, you know, they immediately, when they started to engage with this thing, they already had that, I would say that, you know, another example is we have a whole section in the book about tailoring your social media use to your personality. And this is something that, you know, why don't we hear more about this? Right. I have five chapters in the book because I mean, you know, like we, we sh we shouldn't all live in the same part of town. Right? Some people want to live in the suburbs. Some people want to live right downtown.
Speaker 3: Some people want to live in the country, you know, like, you know, we think about our personalities when we make decisions, like where we want to inhabit in terms of a physical neighborhood. Well, what about a virtual neighborhood then? Who were the neighbors there? You know, um, love thy neighbor, but choose the neighborhood. Right. And so the whole idea is that, um, if we don't think actively about our personalities, we're when we make decisions about like, which platforms we want to be on, you know, it, it's going to be different for everybody. So in the book, I actually have a personality quiz that you can take. And then the next five chapters talk about the five major personality types. And, and say like, if you test it a little more like this, you might want to do X, Y, and Z. And that is another thing.
Speaker 3: The reason that it's coming up in this parenting discussion is it's really fun to do with kids, because kids love learning about themselves and their personalities that, you know, they're, they're, they're a little bit, you know, uh, more able to adapt, um, to, to different things, because, you know, they're younger and, you know, not fully baked. And so, um, so I've had a lot of really fun discussions with not just my own kids, but other kids as well, about how do you tailor this to you so that you are the protagonist, and you're not, you know, that supporting, you know, person who's just being dragged along for the ride.
Speaker 4: It's funny that you should mention that. And AIG and I both had a bit of a giggle when we were reading the book and looking at how you used ocean to decipher the different personality types, and then what that, what those personalities resulted in, in their usage. And we've been using ocean for our, for our clients when they had come to our live programs, our bootcamps. So we had a little bit of insight on who we were working with, and we all wanted to also see if there would be any patterns that would develop. Well, there certainly was, and which was incredibly hilarious because it correlated with their usage that you had posted in this book. And it blew my mind. If you could share some of those, I think our audience would get a kick out of that. And then they would have an opportunity to do the personality tests and see if they are at a perfect example or an outline.
Speaker 3: Yeah, no, I mean, I mean, they can get started right away. Cause I actually put the personality quiz online just so that it's freely available. You don't even have to get the book, but it is on, you are what you click.com. So you do have to look at some advertisements for the book, but, um, you know, I mean, my marketing people are not any different than any other marketing people. Right. You know, so the we're all thinking creatively, but the, the quizzes on there so that you can, um, on the, on the web so that you can sort of see, oh my gosh, I test a little bit more on the conscientious side a little bit more on the neurotic side. Geez. I wonder what that means for my social media use. And, you know, like for example, we published a study showing that, um, people who are more on the conscientious side, so this is, uh, you know, fancy sort of psychological definition, but basically more conscientious, less lazy, think about it that way.
Speaker 3: You know, so people who are less lazy are less likely to be negatively affected over the course of using more and more social media, but people who are maybe a little bit more lazy, um, when they use more social media, there was a huge relationship with high social media use and more social isolation. So we don't really necessarily know why that is, but once we know that, then we can sort of say, okay, you know, that this is sort of a personality tendency. Yeah, sure. You can work on the personality tendency. But the other thing you can do is you can create your own world and you can say, all right, this kind of social media experience is going to probably be a better one for me.
Speaker 2: And that's certainly something that I have been playing with. I started with the newsfeed Eradicator plugin for Chrome, just to remove the newsfeed Facebook early on, I engaged less and less with Facebook outside of our groups, which I encourage all of our listeners to join great place to interact with me. But I now realize that in those situations where I'm falling into a comparison trap, I can keep following that person, but I can mute them. Or if I'm seeing content that makes me feel bad, I can hold my screen and say, I want to see less of this. Stop showing me this. And I can start to take some control back against this algorithm. And in the last part, exactly that removed my device as that alarm clock, which puts a lot of us holding it in the morning, first thing, and holding it in the evening.
Speaker 2: Last thing that leads to these impacts of not getting a great night's sleep doom, scrolling, focusing on the negative. And the more that I've come to realize about my own psychology, the less you probably see me on social media, I'm sure some of our show fans are surprised at how little they see me personally posting. We have a social media team, of course, who helps us promote everything we create. But that last point is something that Johnny and I have really been sharing with everyone. We encourage everyone to be a creator versus a consumer. The second you start creating, you start putting videos out there, audio out there, writing out there. Not only do learn a lot more about yourself and you get an opportunity to connect with more people, but you do get a peek behind the curtain, like the wizard of Oz. And you start to see what's really going on behind the scenes. What's driving this attention economy and you do feel like you gain a bit more autonomy against these algorithms that are impacting our lives.
Speaker 3: Yeah, I totally agree. And, uh, I'm chuckling a little bit because you referred to the sort of the, the constancy and the, you know, the interruptions that we have. And it makes me think about this story that I do talk about in the book. It's a Kurt Vonnegut story from 1961. I don't know if you had actually read that before seeing it in the book, but it's a story about a dystopian future. And what they do is they try to make everybody equal. So for example, if someone's really good looking, they make them wear masks. If someone is really a graceful dancer, they make them wear weights and you know, how do they take smart people and make them not as smart? Well, they randomly subject them to beeps now and then to interrupt their thinking. Well, that's sort of, you know, I mean in 1961, that was a dystopian future.
Speaker 3: But now that is absolutely what happens because every moment you see somebody, I mean, you can't have a meeting without having something beep you know, you out of your train of thought or them out of their train of thought. And if it's not a beep, it's a, uh, you know, it's, it's a vibration. And if it's not that even just the presence of the object has been shown in scientific studies to actually exert an influence. So I talk about this in the book and I, some fascinating studies, I did not do these. I was just citing them because I thought, I thought they were really brilliant, but what they did was they actually brought people in and they randomized. Some people had to, um, you know, take some kind of a challenging quiz and, uh, with nothing on the table, except the quiz, the other half of the group had to take the same challenging quiz with the phone on the table, but it was powered off. So the phone is not going to beep it's not going to buzz. It's not going to do anything. But literally the people who had the phone just physically present on the table performed worse than the quiz. And so a lot of that is probably because we've been conditioned by our phones. So almost think of, oh, there might be something that beeps or buzzes, even if, you know, it's powered off,
Speaker 2: There's no doubt. We've all reached for our pocket thinking we got a vibration or a notification, even when there's no service or no power. And I, I love that you introduced this idea of a holiday from these devices and these platforms actually giving yourself days break completely. And Johnny and I are heading out to Miami to do our X-Factor accelerator mastermind with our members. And that's the first thing I do is remove the device from the equation. So when I'm in the room with our clients or I'm in the room with Johnny, we can actually focus on each other and really connect in real life. And as we wrap, I'd love to know what has had the greatest impact on you personally, now that you have all of this data in front of you in the science, um, any tip to close us out with that has really helped your life.
Speaker 3: Yes. You know, if, if, if I had to pick one tip, it would be, you know, back to that, um, idea that I think we've referred to a few times, which is that you really can do more curating than you think, you know, you mentioned AIJ this whole idea that, um, you know, you don't even need the newsfeed, right. People sort of think to themselves, the newsfeed is social media, but now obviously it's in the best interest of the, uh, you know, marketers and platforms to have that newsfeed be social media, because then you're being constantly pulled along and they're able to tell you what you, you know, what you want to consume. Um, however, there are ways, and I talk about this and there's a chapter in the book called the best stuff is in the back of the room. And we just sort of use the idea of like, you know, if your favorite food is over there, you know, 20 steps away, are you going to, you know, stop and have stuff you don't really like, you know, for 45 minutes before you even reach there?
Speaker 3: Well, that is exactly what we do every day on social media, because we get derailed, um, by, you know, just sort of those loudest voices. And so we need to find ways of, of taking that back as much as possible. And, you know, I think that some of the tips we have for that in the book are, are valuable. But I think that it's just, uh, my hope is that it's just getting the conversation started because you've probably got a bunch of tips for me and other people have a bunch of other tips and like, this is something we need to ground source. Yeah.
Speaker 2: And it takes all of us speeding the algorithm back that we don't want this, that we're not interested in this. We aren't going to click it. No matter how much you put it in front of us.
Speaker 4: It's funny, you mentioned that I, I spent so many time. I will see an ad pop up and I it'll out. It will anger me because that's nothing that I want. And now I'll have this. I'll want to click. I don't like this ad, but I know that I'm only training it to give me better ads that I will be more engaged with. And I'm just like, no. And then there's also that we do the same thing with people who might post stuff that upsets us or makes us mad. It's like, well, I'm going to unfollow this person. But then you had mentioned, and you did a bit at the beginning of the book, and we've talked about this at length on the show that how powerful FOMO is. So this is a friend of yours. They post stuff that offends you or upsets you. You want to mute them, but maybe tomorrow they're going to post about the party that you're going to miss or, or some gossip that you're, you're not going to be a part of it. Now you're, you're leaving that on. It's like you have to be discerning and start weighing the good and the bad and the redundant out of these, out of these.
Speaker 2: Well, we love asking every guest what their unique X factor is. What makes you extraordinary? Brian,
Speaker 3: I guess for me, it's, it's, uh, I, I'm not a real star in any one area. I like bringing together other areas. So, you know, I was an English and math double major and, uh, you know, I, wasn't able to kind of bring those together in any magical way, but then I studied psychology and then medicine and then social science. So it's really bringing all those things together, you know, the humanities and the social sciences and, and, uh, it just, the way my brain works is that, you know, if I'm in a science-y mode, I want stories. And if I'm in a story mode, I want science. And so I, I think that the thing that I'm, you know, able to do is sometimes bring together areas that don't often fit together. But in each of those areas, I'm a little bit of a hack, you know, you should see me play guitar. I'm nothing like my son.
Speaker 2: Well, thank you for joining us and writing this book and where you go, can you just direct our audience again to where they could find that quiz? We'll put it up in the show notes as well for those in the app.
Speaker 3: Oh, sure. Yeah. It's on you are what you clicked.com and, uh, yeah, there's some links to the book, to the quiz and other things
Speaker 2: That you so much for joining us, Brian.
Speaker 3: Great. Thank you. And thank you, AJ. Johnny been great to be with
Speaker 5: [inaudible].
Speaker 1: Well, Johnny, all of our fans know that we have been big on being creative versus consuming when it comes to social media. If you follow the show, you know that we've tried our best to tune it out. But if you are going to hop on social media, we completely agree with Dr. Primack that it's so important for you to be selective, positive, and creative to transform that experience.
Speaker 4: Well, it was certainly fun to bash on social media without a handcuffs on for once. But as you mentioned, there's a lot of ways that enhances our lives and we just need to put forth the effort to use it in that manner, rather than allowing it to drag us down
Speaker 1: Special. Shout out this week to Bobby Bobby joined us at our most recent bootcamp in Las Vegas, and he's been putting his new skills to work, right? Johnny absolutely. He's used what he learned in our program to chat up the audience in between sets at his band's performances. It's resulted in more engagement from the crowd and even better exchanges in between songs. This rose the energy of the night and the people enjoyed themselves more, even approaching him after the show.
Speaker 4: The important thing here AAJ is that for a lot of performers, they're disconnected from their audience and the audience can even feel a disconnect from the performer. You may have paid your money. You may set up front, you may know all their songs, but that intimacy about being connected is always lost. So when you walk around the crowd before, after in between sets and you're chatting up people, that connection that they've yearned for is finally been made and he's seeing it pay off. And not only is this work in such a setting as performing, but imagine it a networking event, it has the same effect.
Speaker 1: Now for the last 15 years, we've been training in our bootcamp, how to captivate and connect with anyone and build that unstoppable confidence to do it after a show, to do it in the boardroom and even out in your personal life and dating. If you'd like to join us in 2022 for our upcoming bootcamps, go ahead and text bootcamp to plus 1 9 1 7 7 2 0 4 1 0 4. That's right. Texts, bootcamp to 9 1 7 7 2 0 4 1 0 4, to get information on our upcoming 2022 bootcamp schedule
Speaker 4: And over to iTunes and rate and review this podcast, it would certainly mean the world does and it helps others find the show and helps us get great.
Speaker 1: Yes, the art of charm podcast is produced by Michael Harold and Eric Montgomery until next week. I'm a DJ and I'm Johnny go out there and crush it.
Speaker 5: Yeah, [inaudible].
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