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Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Eating Disorders: Why They are Shaped by Bias and Social Media

April 28th, 2022 No comments

When I was 15 years old my best friend had Anorexia Nervosa. 

Did something happen that I don’t know about? Why is she acting this way? These were questions I constantly asked myself as I watched my best friend struggle with inner demons throughout my first year of high school. She progressively became more fatigued, impulsive, and quiet. At the time, I had no prior knowledge of Anorexia, an eating disorder that causes extensive weight loss alongside a skewed perception of gaining weight and food altogether. I never understood what was happening to my best friend for the longest time. I could only observe the complete alteration of who she was. Eating Disorders are categorized as psychological disorders with disturbed eating patterns and habits. These disorders have a severely detrimental impact on the mind, which is why it can take, on average, six months to two full years for the brain alone to recover from an eating disorder. 

It was not until years later that I realized my best friend was exhibiting the signs of an eating disorder in high school. Over time, she expressed to me how she felt about the illness. As if she was no longer in control, another part of herself decided to forcefully take the keys to the car and not stop driving. It took her years to climb out of the hole she was thrown in. Although even after she shared her story with me, I continued to struggle to wrap my head around the idea of how your brain can entirely change your perception of body image. It wasn’t until I learned about Attentional Bias in my Cognitive Psychology course that I noticed how eating disorders occur and develop in the brain. I find it quite terrifying how our brain controls how we perceive the world around us, especially in recent years, where the idea of “thinness” has been preached across social media platforms and among influential celebrities. 

Some popular social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, to name a few. Even well-known television shows such as America’s Next Top Model and The Biggest Loser actively normalize the idea that being “too big” is ugly, unattractive, and shameful. They either force contestants to lose weight in an unhealthy way or point out women’s insecurities for why they aren’t physically good enough to be the next top model. Constant advertisements for weight loss, diets, fitness, and cosmetic surgery are also to blame for our society willingness to support “thinness” (Leavy et al, 2006). For generations, our society has set unrealistic beauty standards, especially for women, that undoubtedly lead to low self-esteem and insecurities that have the potential to develop into an Eating Disorder. Even the most recognized celebrities have influenced bad and unhealthy habits with eating. Earlier this month, Kim Kardashian talked about how she lost sixteen pounds in three weeks to fit into a dress for the Met Gala. She spoke of nearly having to “starve herself” but how it was also worth it. From such a well-known celebrity that millions of people watch, to preach the idea of having to completely alter your diet to lose an unhealthy amount in a short time for the Met Gala is destructive to your body and mind. Mass media promoting this image allows Attentional biases to form and keep confirming themselves. Social media can have a firm grasp on how we view ourselves, especially in younger generations. This is extremely important because the most common age to develop an eating disorder is between twelve and twenty-five years old, meaning the most targeted crowd for social media is also the most vulnerable to this disorder(Leavy et al, 2006).

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Mindful Scrolling

April 25th, 2022 No comments

A better understanding of cognitive biases can improve your social media habits

Instagram. Snapchat. Facebook. Twitter. Youtube. If you use any of these sites, you are one of 7 in 10 Americans using social media to connect with people around the world – these platforms have become a part of our lives and culture. And if you’ve spent more than five minutes on one of these sites, you have probably been subjected to some… interesting opinions. Maybe your weird aunt retweeted something about vaccines causing autism, or a random page with thousands of followers pops up, selling herbs and crystals to align your chakras and stay healthy. Maybe it’s an account with “fact” in the name, but half of their posts explain that 5G causes covid-19 symptoms. The comments under these posts are a vicious mix of devout believers and non believers, each citing articles to prove their arguments. How did we get here? What forces could lead somebody to advocate for “Flat Earth”? Hint, it happens at the intersection between web design and human psychology. As we move into the future, social media will only expand its influence on the world, for better or for worse. This isn’t on anybody’s mind when they pull out their phone to scroll for a few minutes on the toilet, but maybe it should be. 

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Repetition Makes Fact

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

 

Read it & weep, Wakefield!

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield caused quite a stir when he published a dubious study in a renowned medical journal suggesting the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was linked to the development of autism (Rao and Andrade, 2011). This study terrified parents and, consequently, led to a sharp decline in MMR vaccination rates among children. Shortly after Wakefield’s article was published, numerous scientific studies were conducted that refuted and, ultimately, debunked Wakefield’s fictitious claims. However, it took 12 whole years for the Lancet, the medical journal in which Wakefield’s study was initially published, to issue a formal retraction of Wakefield’s article on the grounds of deliberate fraud (Rao and Andrade, 2011). In 2008 and 2009, while vaccination rates were on the decline, the measles came back in full force, plaguing the UK, United States, and Canada (Rao and Andrade, 2011). As a result of the chaos that ensued following his erroneous declaration, Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license. How could such an unfounded claim inspire so much mistrust? Good question. A prime culprit in perpetuating the belief in Wakefield’s false claim was repetition.

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Facebook Profiles: Where people look depends on your gender and attractiveness

November 23rd, 2014 6 comments

For many college students in the United States, spending time on Facebook is a daily routine, whether it is to chat with friends, look at interesting posts, or cyber-stalk your recent crush. Facebook and other forms of social media have become a big parts of contemporary life whether people like it or not. And in current times when professors are Facebook friends, online dating is becoming more prevalent, and employers look up profiles to make an impression of potential employees, it is important to mind the content and know what it is that people pay attention to. The current study, Seidman and Miller (2013), uses an eye-tracking software to find out just that. Read more…

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Updating your status or updating your brain?

April 30th, 2013 3 comments

If you’re on the computer reading this blog, there is almost a 100% chance that you also have Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube open on your computer as well.  In today’s world, social networking sites have become an integral part of our everyday lives.  Other than “stalking” photos, tweeting our every move, and watching cat videos, most people do not put a lot of thought into how social networking sites affect their lives.  Tracy Packiam Alloway and Ross Geoffrey Alloway’s 2012 paper, “The impact of engagement with social networking sites (SNSs) on cognitive skills,” looks at the effects of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube use on working memory, attention skills, and reported levels of social connectedness.

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