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posted by janrinok on Monday October 10, @06:48AM   Printer-friendly
from the everybody-is-looking-for-something dept.

Researchers at Baylor and Campbell universities found that smartphone users seeking meaning and purpose through their devices and social media could experience the opposite:

Smartphone users will be disappointed if they expect their devices and social media to fill their need for purpose and meaning. In fact, it will probably do the opposite, researchers at Baylor and Campbell Universities found in a recently published study.

[...] The researchers' results provide a sociological link to the psychological studies that point to connections between digital devices and media use with feelings of loneliness, depression, unhappiness, suicidal ideation and other poor mental health outcomes.

"Human beings are seekers – we seek meaning in our relationships, our work, our faith, in all areas of social life," Pieper said. "As researchers, we were interested in the role that smartphones – and the media they give us instant access to – might be playing in meaning-seeking.

"We conclude that smartphone attachment...could be anomigenic, causing a breakdown in social values because of the unstructured and limitless options they provide for seeking meaning and purpose and inadvertently exacerbate feelings of despair while simultaneously promising to resolve them," Pieper said. "Seeking itself becomes the only meaningful activity, which is the basis of anomie and addiction."

[...] "Our research finds that meaning-seeking is associated with increased smartphone attachment – a feeling that you would panic if your phone stopped working," Nelson said. "Social media use is also correlated with increased feelings of attachment."

[...] A key finding of the study is that this feeling of attachment is highest for those who use social media less often. However, the research found that individuals seeking solace or connection through their phones in shorter spurts might exacerbate attachment.

"What is interesting is this association decreases for the heaviest of social media users," Pieper said. "While we don't know how this group uses social media, it might be that normalized use at the highest levels erases feelings of attachment for the individual – as we put it, it would be like saying one is attached to their eyes or lungs."

Journal Reference:
Justin J. Nelson and Christopher M. Pieper, "Maladies of Infinite Aspiration": Smartphones, Meaning-Seeking, and Anomigenesis, Sociological Perspectives, 2022. DOI: 10.1177/07311214221114296


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @07:33AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @07:33AM (#1275793)

    What is described does not seem to have anything to do with smartphones, and everything to do with algorithmically-curated social media.
    I am perfectly satisfied with my smartphone which allows me to read ebooks, check the near-term weather radar while I am out, read the RSS feeds that *I* selected, not an algorithm, read and reply to 2000s-style web forums on the topic that I subscribed to... and countless other small uses.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @10:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @10:19AM (#1275807)

      One wonders what SM (is it sado-maso or social media? Why not both?) has to do with "purpose and meaning"?

      I am perfectly satisfied with my smartphone which allows me to read ebooks, check the near-term weather radar while I am out, read the RSS feeds that *I* selected, not an algorithm, read and reply to 2000s-style web forums on the topic that I subscribed to... and countless other small uses.

      The way they describe it ("meaning in our relationships, our work, our faith, in all areas of social life") even your use of the smartphone hardly fits (though it would hurt less than SM).

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Booga1 on Monday October 10, @07:51AM (6 children)

    by Booga1 (6333) on Monday October 10, @07:51AM (#1275794)

    The phone is just a portal: a tool, an access point. The phone is just the IV line to the artery of the ego. The attachment to the phone is the same as the junkie to his fix. They've gotta get those "likes" or they'll go through withdrawal.

    If you're seeking to find purpose and meaning from social media, the feedback comes from the people on the other side, not the device itself. If people are expecting to find the world fawning after their every meal on Instagram, the phone isn't the source of the disappointment when that fails to materialize.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Opportunist on Monday October 10, @09:30AM (1 child)

      by Opportunist (5545) on Monday October 10, @09:30AM (#1275804)

      It's better than kids. If your phone starts to get on your nerves, you can turn it off and even put it on the landfill. Try that with your kids and you won't hear the end of it.

      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday October 11, @03:50PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday October 11, @03:50PM (#1276051) Journal

        Man...dog people are always calling their pets "fur babies."

        But try calling a kid a "skin baby" just once and suddenly they're all like "you're the worst pediatrician in this office!"

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by c0lo on Monday October 10, @10:42AM (2 children)

      by c0lo (156) on Monday October 10, @10:42AM (#1275812) Journal

      Purpose and meaning...?

      Yes, of course.

      Purpose - "It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."
      Meaning - "It takes genuine talent to see greatness in yourself despite your absence of genuine talent."
      Satisfaction - Your search for "satisfaction" produced no results, other than yet another indication of your tendency towards failure... (As if you needed more.) [despair.com]

      Now, get back to work.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @05:53PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @05:53PM (#1275890)

        > Your search for "satisfaction" produced no results

        That's funny, mine came right back, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAzqSYQ9X9U&t=10s [youtube.com]

        Bare chested Mick! Eat your heart out Putin...

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @06:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @06:17PM (#1275892)

          You didn't search the correct place (the two above the "search" one are from the same site)

          As for your Mick problem, try some Eric, cause she don't lie.

          When the options are crude
          But you wanna cooked food
          Propane

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @04:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @04:21PM (#1275878)

      It could just be plain old boring consumerism dressed up in new tech.

      Buy this shit, it'll make the hole in your heart/soul/psyche go away. Now with more buzzy features! Quick $10 cash back! Buy this plastic shit you dumb fucks, get the payment plan, insurance, 30-day free trial, and chomp down hard on the EasyPayPlus single click InstaDebt option. You ass is toast - you feel miserable? Try the QuickHealth'n'Wellness monthly plan.

  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Monday October 10, @10:49AM (4 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Monday October 10, @10:49AM (#1275814) Journal

    I just want to make and receive phone calls.

    Many(most?) modern phones aren't actually any good at this.

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 2) by KritonK on Monday October 10, @11:32AM (1 child)

      by KritonK (465) on Monday October 10, @11:32AM (#1275819)

      Actually, they still make plain phones. If shopping on line, untick the "smartphone" check box (or set the price range to under 100 $/€/£) in the store's product selection page, and you'll see links to the good stuff. I'm perfectly happy with my 2017 Nokia 3310, e.g. It does what it's supposed to do, is stylish, inexpensive, and its battery (still!) lasts for days, not hours. It may no longer be produced, but I see that it has been replaced by this year's reissue of the 8210, which seems very similar. An added advantage of the 3310 is that it only has 2.5G, which means that now that even 3G is being phased out, I wouldn't be able to connect to the internet with it, to use its tiny browser, even if I wanted to.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Immerman on Monday October 10, @12:41PM

        by Immerman (3985) on Monday October 10, @12:41PM (#1275824)

        Be warned, apparently that's on its way out.

        Locally we just had a rash of phone upgrades as the local carriers apparently retired legacy infrastructure and only support calls via "Voice over LTE (VoLTE)" now - which seems to be something that was added some time after my old once-a-flagship-model 4G smartphone was made. Even my dad's decades old-indestructible flip phone got a free "upgrade" since it would no longer be able to make calls.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by pTamok on Monday October 10, @01:40PM (1 child)

      by pTamok (3042) on Monday October 10, @01:40PM (#1275831)

      I just want to make and receive phone calls.

      Many(most?) modern phones aren't actually any good at this.

      Yes.

      It's an engineering/cost efficiency choice. We could have high quality audio, with no distortion, drop outs or echo, but that would take more channel capacity and require some (expensive) engineering in the network. Call quality is engineered down to the lowest acceptable quality so more calls can be crammed into the available capacity. Service providers don't care if your call is dropped, because if it is important to you, you'll dial again, which in some places incurs additional call set-up charges.

      Old school telecomms engineers worked very hard to get good quality, but the pride in the engineering has been overridden by commercial considerations. In the old days, you could amortise a telephone exchange over 30 years, which meant you could spend the time and money to 'get it right'. Now the service provider may not be in business for 3 years, let alone 30. The good consequence is the service is cheap. In the old days, you paid, expensively, by the call (the idea of 'free' local calls in the USA was regarded as amazing by the rest of the world) - now your call plan is peanuts (in inflation adjusted prices), but the service quality is dreadful.

      So how much are you prepared to pay to get better call quality?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @06:23PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, @06:23PM (#1275895)

        I paid (through the nose) for a Verizon land line /copper, good quality and immunity from power failures...until the notice came that copper was not going to be supported. At that point we switched to voice over cable (along with our internet) and started to save a good buck every month. Quality is still very good, there are some odd clicks, beeps and boops from time to time that don't seem to be explained by the phone on the other end of the connection. It doesn't work when the AC power goes down, but that isn't too often here.

        Note, I don't have a cell phone. Had one many years ago for a couple of weeks, it didn't work correctly when roaming (I bought it for a road trip) so I returned it and haven't tried since. There are a couple of others in this house with cell phones, I might use them a few times/year.

  • (Score: 2) by Sjolfr on Monday October 10, @10:09PM

    by Sjolfr (17977) on Monday October 10, @10:09PM (#1275928)

    Duh. Now spend $100million on figuring out if water is wet.

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