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Friday, October 12 • 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Social Media Practices of "Addiction", survival and well-being

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FUNCTIONING DIGITALLY: HOW DIGITAL OVERUSE AND COPING SKILLS AFFECT SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING
Moritz Büchi, Noemi Festic, Michael Latzer
The digitization of communication creates new challenges for individuals’ functioning in society. To take advantage of the Internet, users need to manage the overabundance of digital information and communication. This study conceptualizes and tests subjective well-being as an outcome of Internet-use-related variables.

Digital inequality research has revealed social differences in Internet access and use (DiMaggio et al., 2004) but neglected consequences thereof (Van Deursen & Helsper, 2015). Such frameworks entail the assumption that skilled Internet use can be advantageous. However, potential negative effects of information and communication abundance such as Internet overuse have also been identified.

Perceiving digital overuse is an emerging social issue sensitive to existing social inequalities. Digital communication abundance does not necessarily degrade well-being. We propose that specific digital coping skills, which enable Internet users to manage negative side-effects of digital participation, enable beneficial Internet use. Further, social digital pressure reflects the perceived societal expectation to be able to manage everyday challenges of digital media and concerns the practical relevance of digital overabundance to one’s everyday life.

Drawing on nationally representative survey data from Switzerland, results from a multivariate regression model show that perceived digital overuse reduces well-being while digital coping skills increase well-being. The positive contribution of digital coping skills to well-being is particularly high for those in high-pressure social environments.

This study reveals that differences in dealing with digital overabundance have real offline consequences and stresses the importance of a new set of skills that are necessary to cope with the challenges of digital age.

OF DOG KENNELS, HARD DRIVES, AND GLOBAL CONTAMINATIONS: TOWARD A CONSTITUTIONAL LOGIC OF BIG DATA
Zane Griffin Talley Cooper
Data centers have become sites of romantic speculation, and a bevy of critical scholarship (Carruth, 2014; Hogan, 2015; Holt & Vondreau, 2015; Burrington, 2014) has begun to render new and valuable maps of the cloud's "materialities, geographies, and logics" (Mattern, 2016). However, we need a stronger analytic that allows for more meaningful differentiation between what big data does (its operational logic) and what it is (its constitutional logic). To attend to the diffuse materialities at play in the accretion of big data stuff, I argue we start thinking virally, seeing the constitutional logics of big data as contaminating forces that are themselves contaminated by external ecologies, creating thick webs of contingency. Contamination, in this sense, is not infection, but rather a building, a working, and an operating across difference - a collaboration in the service of "precarious survival" (Tsing, 2015). Through this frame, I unravel the interlaced histories of the 3.5" Winchester hard disk drive (which stubbornly remains one of the fundamental building blocks of big data architecture), and the neodymium-iron-boron magnet (one of the hard disk drive's central components). Using political economic and transnational historical methods to analyze hard disk drive manufacturing through the lens of rare earth mining and permanent magnet manufacturing, I trace labyrinthine resource flows and entangled socio-material assemblages through Africa, the United States, China -even through a little dog kennel in Valparaiso, Indiana - in an effort to chart a topography of the preconditions and residual effects that big data must negotiate in order to operate.

BETWEEN ICONIC POWER AND REPERTOIRE POWER: EXPLORING THE ONLINE SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF A FAKE HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPH
stefano brilli, manolo farci
The aim of the paper is to understand the online spreading of iconic photographs and how different actors in the media ecosystem compete in constructing the alleged truthfulness of these pictures. The case study chosen is the online circulation of the famous photo taken during the Second World War in a small village of Dane (Slovenia). Although this photograph portrays an execution of five Slovene civilians by an Italian military platoon, it has been frequently employed as a powerful icon of the Foibe Massacres ((a series of mass executions of Italians carried out between 1943 and 1945, perpetrated mainly by Yugoslav Partisans). Through a combination of icon analysis, digital methods and content analysis, the research demonstrates how different frames and social uses participate in spreading of the same image. Our findings show that the circulation of the Dane photograph is caused by two constitutive factors. On one hand, the photograph emerges as an icon that evokes shared, often visceral collective feelings and increases public deliberation. On the other hand, however, the photograph periodically circulates within local newspaper not because of its iconic charge, but thanks to its enhanced searchability. In this case, the image of Dane becomes an image-repertoire, whose iconicity is not defined by its pictorial aesthetics or by the cumulative meaning that it acquired, but by the chance to be easily indexable by search engines like Google.

THE TRUTH ABOUT TECH? CHALLENGING THE NOTION OF ‘ADDICTION’ IN THE CURRENT DEBATE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Anne Mette Thorhauge, Stine Liv Johansen
In Denmark we currently experience a heated debate about children and young people’s use of social media. This use is often framed as ‘pathological’ with reference to ‘addiction’ as a key characteristic. This concept often comes with a range of perspectives imported from medicine and neurophysiology such as the idea that the notifications we receive from smartphones and social media spawn little ‘dopamine kicks’ that entices us to return to those media again and again, aligning in this way the use of social media with the abuse of substances such as heroine and cocaine. We find this problematic because there is little empirical evidence that excessive use of social media is actually conditioned by the release of dopamine in the brain. Moreover, the ‘addiction’ discourse tends to frame the use of social media in highly normative ways and to reduce potentially problematic use patterns in this way to the ‘moral failing’ of parents and of individuals. For this reason we will challenge the concept of addiction and introduce some alternative explanatory frameworks for understanding excessive use. To begin with, we will zoom in on the argument about dopamine-release as an explanation of excessive use. Following from this we will introduce two alternative explanatory frameworks offering different perspectives on excessive and potentially problematic use of social media: Microsociology and the philosophy of technology. Finally, we will discuss why definitions actually matter when dealing with this issue.

Moderators
avatar for Anatoliy Gruzd

Anatoliy Gruzd

Associate Professor, Ryerson University
Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship, Director of Research at the Social Media Lab (http://SocialMediaLab.ca/), Associate Professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University

Speakers

Friday October 12, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Sheraton - Salon 4

Attendees (17)