The Comparison Factor

Firstly I’d like to introduce a good friend of mine called Oliver Campey who runs ‘olliecampey.com‘. We got our heads together late last year and have decided to get started with a series of social media related blogs/vlogs. Our first blog will focus on the perception vs reality aspect of social media and the comparison factor and you can find Ollie’s written analysis with his thoughts embedded below.

In an age where social media has intertwined itself with almost every aspect of our daily lives, it would be fair to assume that as a population we have acclimatised fairly well to the psychological challenges that come with opening up our world to the public.

The use of social media grew at a far faster rate than anyone could’ve ever predicted and not just from a personal perspective, in business too, social media has now become one of the most powerful tools for marketing your products, creating customer engagement and promoting your brand. There is no doubt that the birth of Social Media has introduced some incredible platforms into the world

Instagram – Being able to visually present your life to the world has put everyone back in touch with their inner creative (optimisation tips available here)

Facebook – Being able to connect with friends you’ve met around the world so you don’t lose touch and share all types of content

YouTube – A platform for masses to create, absorb and share video content
And these are just a few examples…

However, whilst Social Media continues to develop and we continue to improve at marketing our personal and professional journeys there is a much darker side to the all of this. I feel it’s important that it’s brought to the surface so that younger generations can develop the correct coping mechanisms for dealing with the negative implications that can arise when Social Media is misinterpreted or misunderstood.

One of the most widely talked about side effects of Social Media is the ‘comparison factor’. Particularly amongst people in their early teens, the upward comparisons being made against content posted by they’re friends/peers is leading to a reduction in self-esteem, higher levels of jealousy and in turn higher levels of depression amongst teenagers.

However, the problems run much deeper than this and only now are we beginning to see more and more cases of the vicious circle that is consuming many young people in society. The ‘comparison factor’ can often be the trigger point that sets off the cycle of negative thoughts although there are many other reasons and external circumstances which can influence the mood of a person when engaging with Social Media.

One of the biggest issues is a chemical called dopamine, often referred to as the chemical behind all of our sins and secret cravings. In it’s simplest form dopamine is a chemical that acts as a messenger between brain cells and is responsible for things such as movement and speech.

However, it also plays a role in addiction due to the heightened sense of satisfaction we receive when the brain receives a so-called ‘fix’. You see it most amongst smokers (nicotine), alcoholics (alcohol) and gambling, now it’s beginning to take effect on Social Media too, particularly when people receive a ‘like’ or positive comment. It’s been proven amongst various research articles that dopamine triggers the ‘reward molecule’ in our brain and this okay for people who live with a very low level of stress and in broader terms are on good terms with the way their life is being played out.

Where the problem needs addressing is amongst people who suffer from depression, sadness, mental trauma or even temporary stints of unhappiness. The reason being is that people are turning to Social Media to get the ‘likes’ which as we know triggers the reward system in our brain leading to a feel-good factor. As we are aware with the other types of addiction, if this is prolonged over a period of time then the reaction becomes hard-wired in our brains and lo and behold forms an addiction.

It becomes a double-edged sword on many levels. The craving to get the likes/comments places extreme amounts of pressure on people to find content that will generate that type of engagement and when they can’t achieve this a sense of unfulfillment and sadness sets in. It’s also acting as a temporary fix and so the next day it becomes a repeat process meaning people are never actually learning to deal with the root of what’s causing them to feel sad, they’re only ever masking the problems and making their life seem something it’s not to the outside world.

This is extremely dangerous because to their friends, family, employers, it will seem as if everything is great and therefore they can’t offer the kind of support and advice that is needed to help nurture them through the period of negative thinking.

When we think about someone’s life and how they’re getting on, we tend to scan their social media and from the outside everything often looks great. The pictures of nights out with friends, sunny holidays, smiley selfies but in reality on the inside it can often be a very different picture.

To conclude, there is no doubt that social media can have an extremely positive effect on both our personal and professional journeys. There does, however, need to be a greater understanding amongst society about the negative implications that come with prolonged usage and most importantly how we deal with that.

Rap in the Digital Music Industry

Rap is the most streamed genre of music in the world. With the rise of digital media streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Apple Music, etc it has now become easier for the fans of this genre to listen to their favourite artists. SeinHQ helps me delve deep into the rise of modern day rap and how digital media has influenced its growth.

10 years ago, an African American inner city youth may have only had enough money to purchase one album per month – if that. He may have recieved $10 from his mother as pocket money and that would have to last him for the month. But the problem was that there was more than one album that he wanted to listen to and with each album costing him $10 how could he listen to all the rappers that he wanted head nod to? Now, things have changed. That $10 will get you a month’s worth of unlimited music that does not stop delivering.

This new generation of mumble rap artists are producing content on a level of close to a song a week, feeding their audience with content. The rise of digital media has been there to help do that. Their music has become more accessible than ever before. We are now able to quantify digital streams and measure just how popular rap has become. Hip hop listening increased by 74% in 2017, this is due to the rate of which artists are delivering music. They are also helped by the promotion of famed social media accounts like World Star which itself boasts around 14 million followers.

There is a culture in which the audience is brought into the lives of these artists, with Instagram being a leader for these musical stars to portray their lifestyle and music behind the scenes like never before. This creates a fan following that only continues to rise.

YouTube is Dangerous

YouTube is supposed to be a place where content creators from all over the world can share their most entertaining creations for a more interactive social community. It is indeed that place but it is also a dark place people and bots can exploit the minds of children without even knowing it.

If I were to hand my phone, unlocked, to a child (some as young as three years old). They would undoubtedly know how to find YouTube and navigate around the app.

Parents use YouTube to keep their children entertained. It is used as a tool of parenting and they subscribe to what’s known as ‘kids content’ with the idea that what their children are watching is child-friendly… But is it really?

When delving deep into some of these YouTube channels, you can find a lot of disturbing cartoons, animation content that has been knowingly or even unknowingly created by humans or bots on a mass scale for the simple reason of creating content quickly. A quick turn-around of content means more ads on your videos which means more money and humans cannot create videos as quickly as robots can.

When we let robots create this kind of ‘child friendly’ content we’re often seen with results that aren’t very child-friendly and it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

I have personally seen The Joker from the Batman series, kidnap and tie up Elsa from Disney’s Frozen onto a bed. This is found on a very famous kids YouTube channel called Animals For Kids. There is a lot of content our here like this and Google/YouTube needs to take a stand… Quickly!

Social Media and Anxiety

Anxiety within teenagers is a real issue, especially in the western world and more specifically America.

A lot of research has been conducted on this topic and although there are many reasons to why a teenager could become anxious one of the main reasons researchers suggest is due to a repetitive use of social media.

If young people use an extended amount of their time on social media, staring at a screen instead of getting out and experiencing outside life, they’ll learn about conducting themselves and positioning themselves as adults. Right now, the issue is that they are not doing this.

The simple answer to counter all of this is that teenagers need to put down their phones and experience life and it’s elements so that when they are put into difficult and personal building situations, they don’t become anxious.

Creative Design

Why do we design products?

We want to make life easier, we want to build new artifacts that if going to make our children and our children’s children life simple to live.

We need to think about the way we design products and think for not only the present but the future. Therefore, in creation, we must adopt and understand the object in which we are trying to create through visualising its use.

“The design opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed emerge nor from what people know about or desire for the object, but from deeply pursuing the nature of the object itself.”

“To design something effective, the designer must depart the realm of the human, at least temporarily, and enter the universe of the object.”

Creative design is what we need to produce a better living for the present but to also enhance the future.

Love on social media

In this new age of social media, can relationships be what they used to be? Can you love someone unconditionally without showing the world how much you love someone? Of course you can but there are people who choose to document their relationship online for the whole world to see?

Getting more “likes” or more “views” or simply just more engagement has become far more important to people than many other meaningful things that we could label as meaningful only a few years ago. We are now seeing people share the most intimate part of their lives as a show to gain an audience and a following to ultimately gain a more monetary status. This is more than a reality TV show, this is reacting to people, demanding to see the ins and outs of the life you live.

But is this really a meaningful relationship? Is sharing every facet of your life keeping your relationship together? If it is… Is that true love?

Trends and social stigmas

We’re living in a life full of trends and what I like to call “the new age of peer pressure.” We’re now more so than ever trying to fit in with our social crowd and doing things that we would have never thought about doing five, ten or even fifteen years ago.

Let’s look at tattoos, gluten free or even veganism and try and understand how and why these have become social trends. Yes, people are educating themselves and become more “open” about such things but people are also seeking a way to become a part of a social setting that where they can “fit in.” With the rise of social and digital media, information is much easier to grasp that in the 90s and we’re being taught or some may say “brainwashed” into following trends unconsciously.

But maybe there’s a point to that…

Living in a Digital Circle

Everyone has the right to experience the natural wonders of the world. Although not everybody has the necessary tools or opportunities to do so, they still have the right.

We, as humans have the ability to grant that right to anybody and we do. Through the eyes of social media, we can bring the amazing waterfalls of Foz do Iguaçu to a young Bangladeshi girl that may never get to witness it in person… But why doesn’t everybody also have the right to classified government documents or to be in the board room discussing the next player that the New England Patriots want to sign?

Don’t we all have the right to be a part of what the world produces… We are part of this world and what we produce is a sub element of Earth… Is it not?

Non-verbal communication has taken over

We do not need to communicate verbally anymore. We are living in an age of technology innovations where the need to interact with someone with speech has disappeared. With messaging based apps on the rise and the comfort of expressing your mind over a screen rather than face to face takes over, verbal communication will continue to dwindle.

The future will host a world of virtual reality and augmented reality taking non-verbal communication that much further.

Do you give yourself a social media ranking?

Many young people tend to portray their lifestyle on social media differently to how their life really is.

There is a trend where we are seeing ourselves living life in which we aim to raise our social media ‘ranking’ and searching approval from our digital companions through our activity on social media.

We are now glittering our lives with filters and rose tinted lenses while at the same time making our peers feel bad about their own lives. And we are aware of what we are doing!

“Social Media is like cocaine – It can give us an immense high but it can also make us and others around us crash!” – Dominic McGregor, CEO Social Chain.

Why so social? – Documentary coming soon.