Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Facebook, the engine of human misery?

Facebook seems to inflict suffering not only on the tyrants of Middle East and Russia, but also on us, the regular biz-tech-folk. A provocative piece in Harvard Business Review claims that "Facebook Is Making Us Miserable" in three important ways,
First, it's creating a den of comparison. Since our Facebook profiles are self-curated, users have a strong bias toward sharing positive milestones and avoid mentioning the more humdrum, negative parts of their lives. Comparing ourselves to others is a key driver of unhappiness.

Second, it's fragmenting our time. Not surprisingly, Facebook's "horizontal" strategy encourages users to log in more frequently from different devices.
Famed author Dr. Srikumar Rao attributes mindfulness over multitasking as one of his ten steps to happiness at work. He argues that constant distractions lead to late and poor-quality output, negatively impacting our sense of self-worth.

Last, there's a decline of close relationships. One participant summed it up simply: "We Facebook chat instead of meeting up. It's easier."

Of course, it's a sign of an incredibly attractive product or service when people continue using it despite all its horrendous drawbacks. Facebook is a part of the overall information overload problem we are experiencing today. To deal with it, you have to create a new kind of commitment device. Otherwise, your brain will turn into jelly that wobbles at every shake.

Should be a good problem for the class to solve during the Summer '12 quarter.

tags: control, information, 10x, social, networking, problem

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