from the world's big
Does taking photos for social media enhance or degrade an experience?
It all surrounds your outlook on the self-presentation process.
Go to any landmark, concert, sporting event, or restaurant today, and you’ll see dozens of people taking selfies and other photos to post on their social media. It’s both ubiquitous and to some, automatic. What few ask themselves is whether or not such an action improves or reduces their enjoyment of an experience. Having meaningful experiences in life is important for our well-being, both personally and inter-personally, research suggests. And in the end, isn’t that the sum total of our very being, our experiences and memories?
According to a recent study, co-authored by NYU Stern Professor Alixandra Barasch, taking pictures for social media’s sake degrades our enjoyment of that experience, and so we’re less likely to recommend it to others. This has implications both for individuals and businesses. Barasch teamed up with her former mentor Gal Zauberman at Yale University and Kristin Diehl, of the University of Southern California (USC). Their finding were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
The researchers conducted five experiments total. I spoke with Prof. Barasch recently about them. Two comprised of surveying people at tourist attractions. The other three were volunteers taking part in virtual experiences in the lab. In the first study, researchers surveyed tourists in line at the bottom steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They were waiting to take a picture with the Rocky statue. This is one of the top rated things to do in Philly, according to TripAdvisor.
In the second field study, research assistants surveyed students in cap and gown during graduation weekend on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Each respondent took a photo with the Love sculpture, a smaller replica of the one found in in Philadelphia, New York, and many other cities. “We measured the self-presentation process,” Barasch said. “People trying to get that perfect photo for Facebook or Instagram, and those who were taking part in the hashtag the university was promoting, ended up enjoying themselves less than those who were taking photos for their memories.”
The Rocky statue outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Credit: Antonio Castagna, Flikr.
In the three computer-based portions, volunteers went on a virtual tour. The three scenarios were a London bus tour, a walking tour of a small town in France, and a safari. “It’s actually through the first person perspective, so people feel like they’re going on a bus tour or walking through a new city,” Barasch said. “And they take photos just as they would in real life.” Once again, researchers looked at respondents’ goals when taking photos, whether it was for social media or their own memories, their anxiety level, and how much they’d enjoyed the experience.
Next, they broke down all the participants in each study into two groups, those who took photos for their memories and those who did so for social media. Barasch and colleagues once again looked at how much members of each group enjoyed themselves, their anxiety level, and what kinds of photos they took. Barasch and colleagues focused on each respondents “self-presentational concerns.” The self-presentation process (coined for the paper), borrows from psychology.
Those who are overly focused on how they're portrayed on social media, tend to have more anxiety about how they look in the eyes of others, and are more self-conscious. The reason taking photos for social media causes a decline in enjoyment is, it increases anxiety about how one is being presented. The person becomes preoccupied with how to make a positive impression and can no longer live in the moment. “It’s an emotional and a cognitive process,” Barasch said.
I asked her what a person can do to safeguard against degrading their own worthwhile experiences. “I’ve been trying out the separation between photo-taking and sharing. Some of that comes from moving away from our smartphones to take photos.” She suggests snapping pictures using a digital camera, a point and shoot variety, or for serious photographers, an SLR model. “Polaroids are making a comeback,” she added.
On really important days such as a college graduation, it’s best to just enjoy the experience and then post your photos later on. Credit: Maryland GovPics, Wikimedia Commons.
“I’m not saying to forgo the sharing process,” the professor clarified. “I think that gives us a lot of pleasure when we get feedback from our friends and share the experience with others. What I’d like is for people to take photos without that goal in their mind. Have the experience and then share the photos later on.” We all tend to take a million pictures at any particular event anyway. Perhaps going back and selecting the perfect ones to post, could rather elongate a good experience and make it more enjoyable and less harrowing.
Prof. Barasch said,
My general takeaway for marketers and businesses is to try not to make the sharing goal salient for people right when they walk into an experience. You see more and more hashtags on walls of establishments and the menus of restaurants. Move that activation process to when customers are finished or when they’re leaving or finishing their meal or when they’ve already made their purchase, because that allows people to be more in the moment.
The results of this study give us a snapshot of just one of the ramifications ubiquitous social media has had on people and society. We forget this almost all-pervasive phenomenon is actually very new. At first, it wove itself into our lives unobtrusively and it's now influencing an entire generation, who can't remember a time without it. The goal in Western Civilization used to be to become a completely self-actualized individual and innovate. And is the goal now to become the darling of the crowd, perpetually seeking approval? And if so, what does that do to individuality?
“There has been some homogenization,” Prof. Barasch concedes. “What people are doing in these contexts to get likes and comments, maybe we develop less of our unique personality as a result. It’s a tension that many people feel, wanting to be a unique individual and wanting to become part of a community. Finding that sweet spot is difficult. I’m sure that millennials can relate to this, especially. Everything they do now becomes part of pass consumption.”
To learn about more thorny aspects around social media, click here:
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.