All posts by Sarah Burley

Working on my voice

Again, there are several types of motives behind individuals who use Instagram as, Corey Howell, the author of Why Do People Share Online, explain that one of the biggest reasons why people like to share photos is to define themselves. in other words, individuals want to be perceived in a certain way to others and the perfect way to do that online is through photos, “I try to share information that will reinforce the image I’d like to present: thoughtful, reasoned, kind, interested and passionate about certain things”. Youssef Rahoui, CEOat and the author who wrote, The Psychology of Sharing: Why do People Share online, words reinforces Howell’s statement, that all of us want to carry a certain persona to those around us and what better way to do that in this new technological era, is through social media. More specifically, what better way to define your-self then through Instagram as it emphasizes the beauty behind photo sharing. Instagram wants individuals to take pictures of things that they are interested in and share things that you believe in because that is what fosters connection, to not only other people but a connection to your own identity. People are easily misunderstood and easily judged, so Instagram paves a way for users to control what others see and control the perception that others have about them.


Maybe a way to clean it up to make it flow a little better?

Do I need to expand on something?

Real Estate: A new home for the Instagram topic

My new home for my topic of Instagram is Wix, at first I wanted to go with something simple so I was initially going to make another WordPress account but then I realized that to talk about a site like Instagram with it’s flashy colors and artsy photos, has to be on a site that also gives the feeling that they are on Instagram. So I decided to create my own website on Wix to give the illusion that they are reading the paper on a site like Instagram which is casual, quirky, and fun. It is also the perfect home because I plan on using a lot of pictures which will insert a lot easier when using Wix. I think the selected platform is perfect because the Inquiry project topic goes beyond just writing, but it integrates a lot of pictures and visuals which is something Instagram does as well.

Partial Draft Assignment: Instagram

Instagram, the underlying source that has captured the minds of most of the youth, from its variety of popular filters to its easy three second upload of endless selfies and pretty shots of landmarks; Instagram has this ability to turn our lives into a picture perfect story book. The basis of Instagram emphasizes picture taking but not just any picture taking, pictures that are “Instagram worthy”, meaning bright, colorful, meaningful, and a potential for a lot of “likes”. Instagram also has a caption/comment limit of twenty-four hundred words and usually contains beautiful song lyrics, meaningful quotes, a list of unrelated hashtags, and/or even a small description behind each photo. However, behind the glitz and glam of having a thousand followers and people looking as if they having the time of their life, lies the intricacies of why individuals really use social media and how that has cultivated society. Lately, it has seem that social media sites such as Instagram or Twitter has been more for “showing off” rather than its true purpose which is communication, connection, and relationship building.

Many researches such as Jessica Winter, who is the author of, Selfie-Loathing: Instagram is even more depressing than Facebook. Here’s why, explored the relationship between people and social media use as well as the two types of relationships that people have with social media. She, along with most researchers believes that there is in fact a linkage between social media use and low self-esteem. The longer you spend on social media, the more you are vulnerable to comparing and contrasting your life in a way that is destructive to not only yourself but to society as well. However, it is not necessarily social media per say that is the concern, rather, it is the individuals themselves that are taking everything seen and read at face value. Almost as if we are living for the satisfaction of others rather than the satisfaction from ourselves and that is not living at all.

Why exploring the motives behind social media users and its impact on society is such a crucial concern is because we live in an age in which social media and technology is used in every aspect of the world, whether that is through business to the classroom setting, social media is becoming a societal norm. The concern lays not so much that social media causes depression or anxiety, rather pinpointing where the motives behind the users are and whether or not we can use those motives to positively impact society.  I wanted to explore past validating that sites such as FaceBook and Instagram are one of the leading causes of self-esteem and anxiety issues. I wanted to explore why average people use social media and how that has impacted there self and there surrounding environment. Exploring the motives of social media users is so complex in that everyone has a motive that is to his or her liking and to say that social media leads to depression makes me want to investigate the psychological aspect of the basic Instagram user.

Although, there is much speculation that social media may have nothing to do with a lowered self-esteem or this feeling of emptiness; just based on my personal experience and own social media use, I even found myself cringing and getting sad over pictures that I see of my friends. Moreover, whether or not individuals agree or disagree that social media can lead to depression, I believe that our focus should be on the psychological investigation of the basic Instagram user and whether or not our findings there can help us impact society in a way that is beneficial, powerful, and life changing.


I believe that the motives behind Instagram users is one that is complex as it goes beyond basic connecting to friends and family, rather I think that there are several types of motives each with this common theme of acceptance. Whether that is of gaining the satisfaction of peers, self-acceptance or gaining overall societal acceptance, the motives behind Instagram users has a lot to do with sharing to others. Everyone wants to fit in because that is basic human nature, however, what I also believe is that it is not necessarily a negative aspect to use Instagram as a means for others, rather, I think the motives behind Instagram users has the ability to inspire, motivate, and give perspective on life to a society that is already so image driven.

Research Nugget #7: Social media…social anxiety?!

APA Citation: Nitzburg, G. C., & Farber, B. A. (2013). Putting Up Emotional (Facebook) Walls? Attachment Status and Emerging Adults’ Experiences of Social Networking Sites.Journal Of Clinical Psychology69(11), 1183-1190. doi:10.1002/jclp.22045

George C. Nitzburg and Barry A. Farber’s, Putting Up Emotional (Facebook) Walls? Attachment Status and Emerging Adults’ Experiences of Social Networking Sites, explores the world of social media and the needs and wants that many obsessive users of social media crave. Anxious attachment and needed comfort from others seem to be at the forefront of the motives behind many users. Some individuals use social media as a means to avoid personal conversations while others are trying to form relationships at a psychological arm’s distance. Nevertheless, the users of social media all share one thing in common, they all want to be seen and heard, they want to be the criticizer as well as the publisher, and most of all everyone wants to be a part of something, whether that is large or small.

However, as both authors discuss, why is it that individuals find themselves feeling more connected when using social media? Is it because we believe every enhanced and exaggerated posts and statuses or because social media has the ability to foster relationships that were once deemed impossible?

As one thinks about these questions, this takes me back to a piece of writing that I did at the very beginning on Instagram. My own troubling rant and opinion, although sounded crazy, had a variety of valid points about the users of Instagram, being one myself. Maybe individuals are using social media as a way to prove themselves to the world but many others may be doing is trying to get the simple approval from others, so that maybe, just maybe, they can fit in somewhere in this world.

We may use it as means to escape depression and escape the harsh and cruel realities of the world. We may even use social media to escape ourselves. Maybe we do not like ourselves; and we are trying to reinvent ourselves online. For instance, a middle school boy or girl may be finding it hard to make friends and is shy in person, but on sites such as Facebook and Tumblr, they are one of the most popular individuals, almost as if this person has an alter ego.

However, it is not a long shot to say that everyone deals with self-esteem and self-confidence issues because everyone, again, wants to be a part of something. Even the ones that swear that they do not care about what others perceive about them actually do care, and how do I know that? I use to be one of them.

But still, even on social media we still find ourselves subject to rejection, “using social media as a defense against distressing social rejection via “unfriending”(4), the authors words shines light upon this never ending cycle of gaining acceptance and rejection that makes way for our own emotional rollercoaster. However, that’s life, but even more so, that is what social media does, opens a way for relationship, connection, and communication while creating low self-esteem and a feeling of emptiness.

However, even as the authors can go on about the realities of social rejection, they presented a study done on social anxiety and attachment over social networking sites, and with this study:

“ In contrast, those with greater attachment anxiety reported a greater tendency to feel intimate when interacting over SNS while also using SNS to avoid a more personal face-to-face discussion; those with disorganized attachment only used SNS to avoid more personal face-to-face communications. These results are in line with theory about how insecurely attached individuals perceive and react to social stressors. Those with anxious attachment tend to experience social interactions as stressful because they harbor deep fears that others will accept them and that is experiences as intolerably outside of their control (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007; Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005). Our hypothesis is that these individuals attempt to relieve this discomfort by moving their social interactions into online forums where others reactions are more predicatable (and the extent to which they feel exposed is more under their control”

So maybe social media has its tendencies to be a bit of an illusion for some, but in this particular passage, it may just be some individual’s way for dealing with social anxiety. It is not easy for some people to talk in person and that is perfectly understandable. Social anxiety stems a lot from this idea of wanting to control and the fear of unpredictable reactions. It is true, that a lot of the times social media is predictable in terms of things that individuals will reply and comment back. I find nothing wrong with using social media as another way to communicate and as a way to deal with a disorder or problem that you may have. To me, that is using social media in a more positive light, which I feel that many struggle to do. However, in How Can We Use Social Media To Cultivate Happiness, by Smile Epidemic, the writer reveals ways that are in which possible for individuals to take social media and make light of it. The author talks about how we should use social media as more of a tool to inspire and motivate you to get you where you truly want to be. If using social media is a tool to work on social anxiety, then by all means I can accept that.

“Social networking sites like Facebook provide hope for a more engaged, connected world. But these social technologies also serve to deny the universal needs to at least occasionally forget or suppress distressing information and to separate from others to maintain psychological and social health. For the robust, more securely attached among us, being comfortably connected may be relatively easily attainable. But as clinicians, we witness those like Ms. H who struggle with maintaining emotional balance in the wake of an almost never-ending stream of social information they feel compelled to perpetually process. Moreover, the concern is that for our patients with attachment difficulties, the ease of Facebook connection may allow them to stop short of the critical challenge of developing true intimacy. Indeed, as the present data suggest, a tendency towards disorganized or anxious attachment may result in holding relationships at arm’s length”

What I really love about the authors words here is their positive attitude towards social media. It really does pave the way for a more globally connected world but even more so a more engaged world, whether that is through things such as politics of the Fifa World Cup; this engagement in a way restores humanity. However, what we fail to realize sometimes is that everyone is different and everyones personality is different, some use social media as a means to overcome things such as social anxiety and others use it to gain acceptance, either one is not necessarily wrong. The wrong comes in when individuals start to let social media consume them and are using it to show off to others.

What this scholarly article presented was another perspective to look at, that this may be a new revolutionary way for individuals dealing with different disorders. Again, that is taking social media and turning it into something positive and I think that is what we need. We all know what the power of social media can do and if we use that power for more positive attributes, maybe we can finally engage as a world and as one.

Sure, I rant earlier about how individuals use social media as a means to show off to the world, but in a sense I can say I am living a double standard. I use to use social media as a way to show off to past exes, showing them that I am having the time of my life without them. And even though I really was (HA!) I realized that it’s okay, because it was part of the process of being hurt. But what I also realize, that we may never know every ones motive behind social media use and it may never sway one way in terms of positive or negative impact to society, but the fact that we even have social media and it is being used in almost every aspect of the world is well, pretty amazing.

Concept Experience #6

  1. It has been shown through research that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. If you see more positive posts than negative posts, then you start posting more positive posts as well.

“It has been shown through research” : This is definitely a fail and slightly made me cringe because it made me think that this is too vague, I want to know who did the research and how.

“If you see more positive posts than negative posts, then you start posting more positive posts as well”: This is definitely not okay because when talking about something such as a study, although keeping things simple is good, this makes the research almost seems disregarded and not credible, there needs to be a more in depth and specific explanation of the research results.

  1. There have been studies done on Facebook and all the emotions related to posts. “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”

“There have been studies done on Facebook”: the way this is phrased is definitely better than #1 however, still too vague and not explaining where the study has been done and from who?

“We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”: Okay so definitely better worded but still not quite there, I think saying “we have enough power” is not needed. I felt that linking “emotional expressions” would have been a lot better than linking “positive expressions” since emotional expressions encompasses both positive and negative.


  1. Researchers in a new study have found that feelings displayed on Facebook are contagious. They found enough data to show that “emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.”

“Researchers in a new study”: Definitely better but we still do not know what researchers and from where?

However, the second sentence was fine.

The differences between #3 and #4 were still pretty significant in that #4 really went in depth about which the research was from and how they went about the research. What it also did was explain the results of the study better by providing more context and background. In Lawrence LeBlond’s article, he does a nice job with signal phrasing in that it is descriptive but not only that it flows well which is key in writing papers. The links that he provides were always to words that would make sense, in other words, words that we may want to explore a little more. Again, his words flowed and I realized that signal phrasing is something that is crucial and that I need to work on more.

Research Nugget #6


Kessler, E. (2013). Social Media and the Movement of Ideas. European Judaism46(1), 26-35. doi:10.3167/ej.2013.46.01.04

In Edward Kessler’s, Social Media and the Movement of Ideas, the writer talks about the realities of social media and how it has become a crucial part of our everyday lives. However, what the author does is presents how it negatively and beneficially impacted our world, from situations such as the Syria Crisis to Egypt banning there internet for a few days, individuals now realize that social media means power and can foster change for our world.

One of the first ideas that the author touches upon is that social media brings communication but more importantly it brings connection, “enables affiliation, interest group formation and solidarity in new ways; ways that do not conform to existing social groups or geographic locations” (26). Kessler’s words reveals that social media goes a lot deeper than just being a way to share vacation photos or connect with a long lost friend from back in high school, it brings a connection that goes beyond something that we never experienced before. That connection is what brings individuals back and that connection is the reason why there are 1.15 billion Facebook users or more than 75 million Instagramers. Connection is so pivotal because that is what builds relationships, builds networks, and most of all, fills a certain empty space that may not be met through interpersonal communication. However, In, Maria Kalpidou, Ph.D., Dan Costin, M.A., and Jessica Morris, B.A., The Relationship Between Facebook and the Well-Being of Undergraduate College Students, the authors reveal that high levels of emotional loneliness suggests that online interactions actually fail to satisfy one’s need for emotional connections in social interactions. What this suggests is that sure, social media sites foster connection but in terms of deep emotional connection that every human being craves, it still seems to lack in that.

“The ‘one-way conversation’ is becoming the norm and examples of genuine public dialogue have diminished significantly. It is my view that anonymity is a key part of a process of debilitation which harms society. Psychologists have applied the Jungian term, ‘Individuation’, which refers to the concealment of identities when social norms are withdrawn. Individuation occurs when we sit behind the wheel of a car and abuse the driver in front/behind of us; it is what motivates football supporters to shout abuse or hatred at the opposition team and its fans, and/or the referee. And it is why under the cover of an alias – surrounded by ‘virtual strangers’ – conventionally restrained individuals act in a different manner than in the real world”.

What the author is suggesting here is that interpersonal communication or face to face interaction is diminishing, rather what is becoming the norm for society is this idea of instant messaging or using social media as more of a means to communicate to one another our ideas and thoughts. Although this fosters and facilitates creativity, what this also does is creates “Individuation” which blurs the line between real friendships and relationships and people we think we know/virtual strangers. This particular passage also reveals that these same “virtual strangers” is who we are trying to impress and gain acceptance from which is ironic in itself. But why do individuals find themselves

The author also discusses the concept “disinhibition” which is when individuals post comments or photos that they would not normally say or do in the real “face-to-face” setting. This is interesting because on one hand in a way social media brings upon confidence to the point where individuals are not afraid to be opinionated and stand for what they believe. However, on the other hand, not many can say that they could be the same way in real face-to-face conversations. It is interesting because it again, blurs the line between reality and the cyber world. Social media seems to make the line between reality and the dream world hard to differentiate, as again, we take a look at Jodie Gummow’s, “7 Telltale Signs Social Media Is Killing Your Self-Esteem”, the author presents 7 signs that explain the realities of what social media can cause in one’s life. In one example, Gummow explains that our comparing and contrasting nature leaves us taking everything at face value, especially when we see pictures of others, especially on sites such as Instagram; thus, leading to low self-esteem.

What “Disinhibition” also brings is harsh criticism, threats, anger, and hatred among anything someone posts or comments and with this, it also brings upon depression, sadness, and makes social media not so much of an “escape” for some anymore.

However, social media is not the problem here, people are the problem which lead me to discover this passage:

“Perhaps the greatest sense of empowerment has come through the ability to use cyberspace as a location for doing what might not otherwise be done in reality: assemble to discuss ideas, concerns and complaints, and to share frustrations, while also providing the social networking opportunity to unite, strategies and plan for change. In cyberspace, the social restrictions that exist in reality in some places—such as gender segregation—disappear, providing groups of people who might otherwise never meet and converse with the opportunity to connect and recognize what they share in common.”

However, as social media can negatively impact society, there is much beauty behind it. Its ability to have individuals discuss new ideas, share feelings, complaints, build, social network all the while, it also makes gender segregation disappear that actually exist in real places. It allows individuals to meet people from around the world, social media allows for self-expression which leads to inspiration, it lets individuals connect, and gain insight. The author talks about the way social media brought about change and awareness to Syria and Egypt, basically stating that social media is “limitless” and “borderless”, plays by no rules.

I then reflect at social media again, sites such as FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, sure maybe individuals have this motive to show off to others or maybe some people are using it as a means to fill a void. Nevertheless, social media’s impact solely depends on the individuals who use them, there motives, why they use it, and how. So it is not social media that necessarily brings about change but it is the people and their motives, and those motives are the biggest mystery to find.


Concept experience #5


By William Hughes

Jun 27, 2014 3:30 PM

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.

In order to sign up for Facebook, users must click a box saying they agree to the Facebook Data Use Policy, giving the company the right to access and use the information posted on the site. The policy lists a variety of potential uses for your data, most of them related to advertising, but there’s also a bit about “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” In the study, the authors point out that they stayed within the data policy’s liberal constraints by using machine analysis to pick out positive and negative posts, meaning no user data containing personal information was actually viewed by human researchers. And there was no need to ask study “participants” for consent, as they’d already given it by agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service in the first place.

Facebook data scientist Adam Kramer is listed as the study’s lead author. In an interview the company released a few years ago, Kramer is quoted as saying he joined Facebook because “Facebook data constitutes the largest field study in the history of the world.” It’s a charming reminder that Facebook isn’t just the place you go to see pictures of your friends’ kids or your racist uncle’s latest rant against the government—it’s also an exciting research lab, with all of us as potential test subjects.


Part II: Reflection

In doing this assignment, I knew what words and phrases to add links to when I found myself wishing there was a convenient way for me to find a little more about each of the words and phrases that stood out to me. I found it actually natural for me to place links in the right place, almost as if I’ve read enough online articles in my life that I could possibly write one myself. The first phrase I put a link to was the paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” because I knew for a fact that it would be a headache to have to type all of that into Google. I also put a link for modern psychology because it stood out to me and I did not know what modern psychology was as well.

I actually did find myself wanting to add a little to the text but also removing a lot from the text, especially when the author wrote a little about the Facebook policy that did not really support what the controversy was about. I would have added some more background to the Facebook experiment as well as given my opinion on the matter as well to add perspective.

I do not think I would actually add anymore visuals just because I felt that the text was a little short and not many visuals would work well with this article. However, in my opinion, for this specific article, I do not think that not having the links makes any significant difference because most of the links are easy to find but it definitely opened my eyes up to the importance of providing links for essays and articles submitted online.