A new study published in the Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts suggests that the most popular songs in American culture these days are increasingly about oneself, especially one’s angry or antisocial behaviour (DeWall, C. Nathan; Pond, Richard S., Jr.; Campbell, W. Keith; Twenge, Jean M., Mar 21 2011).
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Yale Law Professor Amy Chua recently released a memoir called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Talk about cheesy titles. Essentially, it was about the so-called “Chinese” method of raising children that was very strict, and why it was superior, as her Wall Street Journal essay (Why Chinese Mothers are Superior, Amy Chua in WSJ, Jan 8 2011).
Essentially, it’s how one clever woman is playing the race card in on offense, in a sly way to keep tension from building while generating debate and getting her lots of money and attention. This book would be nothing but for the hype generated by these racial insinuations.
If you want the details on the no sleepover, no dates, trashing your children, threatening to burn your children’s toys, forcing them to take either piano or violin and not settling for As in school, you can read the WSJ link above or the multitude of other related articles like this one from Canada’s Globe & Mail (Why Chinese Parenting is Best, G&M Jan 11 2011).
Note again the racial insinuation in the title.
That’s because its supposed “self-deprecating” nature that was in good jest, according to Amy, is all hear say and not backed up by anything but her opinion. She is presenting an argument on what isn’t “visible”, concentrating on what is, which is the successful products of the method. But how many have been failed by the method and had their lives ruined, and who will never be known?
A hot story has been circulating for a few days now regarding a study done by undergraduate student Soraya Mehdizadeh of York University about how more active users of Facebook are more narcissistic and insecure than the rest of us. Problem is there’s nothing good enough about it to be called either a “study” or “research”.
The media is also to blame. I’m not sure whether to call the editors who allowed it on their popular news sources “stupid” for running the story like it’s legitimate news, or “smart but immoral” for putting it out knowing stuff like that sells, even if there’s no substance to it.
The greatest shame, though, has to go to the “journal” of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking for publishing it as if it were worthy of being called “academic” quality (study PDF). York University should be just as disgraced for letting that pass its standard for “academic research”, push it for publication and then blabber about it as if they had some meaningful research on their hands.
An above average high school student could have done a better job on such a project! Soroya basically did a bad high school project, if you ask me.
Think of that as a challenge for you high schoolers out there looking for a good Science Fair or other project to do. It’s a project that should be fun and engaging if you’re a Facebook fan, and there should be at least a few of you out there who qualify. Then social network together to pool results and get a decent sample size… which Soroya never even came close. And fix some flaws critiqued here.
Here are a few tragic fatal flaws of that “study”.
Lack of sample size with just 100 subjects
For a site with 500 million users, all Soroya can show for it is 100 users? I know it was an undergraduate thesis, but people used to have to work for their thesis, you know? Also, in the electronic media for this day and age, you’d think she could get more than 100 people to do some tests! If you were going to target 100, call it a term project and leave it at that! Don’t go screaming you’ve got a study on your hands and seek attention.
Oh, wait. I think that’s narcissism!
Which professor let that be called research anyway??? Soroya did publicly admit the sample size was a weakness to the “study”, but that’s not a weakness. That doesn’t constitute a study in this case. If I did a study of 1, I could say the same thing. Of course, nobody would call it a study due to the sample size of just 1. So at how many do you call a study, and why? With that many users and statistically significant polls of merit needing around 1000 subjects, 100 subjects is still way too few to be enough data to call a study!
Soroya also had the audacity to talk about gender differences on a sample size of 50 or so people! Did she ever take statistics? And who vetted this to allow it???
All subjects were 18-25 years old
Since when did humans outside of 18-25 years old not qualify as “people”? You can’t draw a conclusion for “Facebook users” on this demographic alone. The media did that more than Soroya, but she implied it enough not to title the study “18-25 year old Facebook users” for a subject group. And were the 100 selected even representative of all 18-25 year olds? There must be literature to determine that “average” to compare to the test group narcissism and insecurity profile. Hey, maybe 18-25 year olds at York are just more narcissistic and insecure than the typical group and uses Facebook as a symptom of it!
You can make that call.
Causality… or lack thereof
So are more active Facebook users narcissistic and/or insecure? Or are narcissistic and/or insecure people use Facebook more actively? Does Soroya know the difference? In case she doesn’t, let me clarify. The first is what the media story and her so-called “study” suggests. So everyone who uses Facebook more actively are narcissistic and insecure. The second means only some of the people who use Facebook more actively are narcissistic and/or insecure, and that you can’t tell if they are by the level of their Facebook activity.
But that doesn’t sell or cause a stir or make anybody care as people could have told you that on their own instinct and be right. I’m not even sure if narcissistic and/or insecure people use Facebook a lot because you’d also have to look at the ones who don’t use Facebook and see what portion they make up, never mind those who don’t use it much.
Soroya’s pretentious “research” can’t prove any causality, but she comments on all kinds of causality.
If I had to bet on any connection between Facebook usage and narcissism and/or insecurity, though, I’d easily bet on the second reason. I’d bet narcissistic and/or insecure people use Facebook more actively, not that more active users are narcisstic.
Carefully constructed self-image???
Beyond the ridiculous conclusions drawn by Soroya on causality, she then dared to speculate on meanings of symptoms of narcissism and insecurity. For example, the more active users had carefully constructed images of themselves, to project their best features and hide their worst, or that their profile is nothing really like them. Um. Does Soroya even know anything about Facebook usage?
The active users are the ones who get caught for affairs, missing work, lying to their friends, or just plainly do other less than appropriate things. They’re the ones Facebook etiquette guides were written for, cause they’re so blind to what their actions says about them to know better!
Reasons for Facebook usage unaccounted for
Does Soroya have any idea if people in this subject use Facebook for the same reasons as other demographics by any division? I mean, seniors tend to flock to Facebook and social media to be better up to date and involved in the lives of their adolescent or older grandchildren. Is that narcissism or insecurity?
Or maybe it’s love and caring. But wait, that doesn’t sell.
Some musicians I know add friends like crazy not because they care, but because they can show potential promoters and labels a nice base of fan support. Is that narcissism or insecurity?
Or maybe it’s just good old fashioned business and public relations. But wait, that doesn’t sell, either.
There are many more problems with Soroya’s “high school project”. I don’t need to bore you with more as I think I’ve discredited it enough to make it worthless. I’ll just throw in a few commentaries to conclude.
Who knew it was so easy to get 15 minutes of fame these days?
I wonder what Soroya thought of Canadians possibly being among narcissistic and insecure people in the world. We have 47.9% of the population connected, a higher percentage than any nation with over 10 million people. We also have the 4th most users in the world (CTV, June 2, 2010), without anywhere near the 4th largest population in the world! Would she have said most of us use Facebook passively like we are on a lot of things? Sure we didn’t all sign up only to be passive, did we?
High school students reading this, or Parents of them, try the challenge I had for high school students at the beginning. Seriously!
And where did Soroya get accepted into medical school? I won’t fault the school in case she didn’t tell them about this work to get in. For the love of God, Allah and the Buddha, I hope Soroya never be allowed to do research until she learns some more about what research is about! Just stick to areas in Med School one only has to memorize things or use one’s hands or something that doesn’t require research type of critical thinking!
But to end positively, congratulations for raising awareness on the Facebook usage issue, Soroya. I just wouldn’t have used sensationalism in the name of research to get credibility and attention.
By the way, Soroya, how did you fare on your own test?
Good luck in Med School. Just don’t tell the media which one accepted you for your school’s sake!
Other Facebook issue posts on my site:
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.0
I’m just too eco-conscious these days, to the point I’m eco-subconscious!
I just bought one of those Planet Waves Meet the Beatles guitar straps (in photo) on the weekend. I bought it because it felt nice, being synthetic leather (which I could tell was synthetic), it was stylish and it was really cheap. I don’t know why it was really cheap ($8 Cdn new when it should be at least $30 US), but I suspect it might have something to do with the potential coating on it interfering with lacquer finishes on vintage guitars (Vegetarian Star, July 24 2009). Naturally, it can be expected to be a problem worth noting because vintage guitars are expensive, but many of their players might also be of the generation who might buy one of these Beatles guitar straps.
I only found out about the potential problem while looking up more information about the authorization to create these things. The Vegetarian Star article linked above showed up on my search as Planet Waves Unveils Vegan Friendly Beatles Guitar Straps, Picks. That was too good to pass up for a second look, and that was how I found out my new strap was vegan-friendly at Sir vegetarian Paul McCartney’s insistence no real hide be used.
OK. I get the hide thing. I’m not into leather, either. I wouldn’t have bought this strap if it were real leather.
But vegan friendly???
Were they thinking they’d sell these things to environmentally conscious and ethical starving artists who might have to resort to eating their guitar straps to survive? And who would have no guilt about doing it?
Now that’d make an interesting photo for an ad!
Heh, that’s what I get for being cheap. I love the Beatles, though not as much as Bob. Dylan, of course. And I am loving my new guitar strap. I’ll keep the vegan thing in mind in case I have to eat it while out on the road. Not because I’m poor, but because as a marathon runner, I need to eat a lot, all the time, and eat healthy stuff, too! The vegan friendly strap might just be the only available to me at some point.
Now, should I eat it, who’s head should I bite off first? Hahahaha!
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.6
Richard Heene wants fame? Let’s give it to him, full force, infamy style! He chose to attain his fame via infamy, not being talented, smart, patient, determined, charismatic and/or hard-working enough to do it any other way. So let’s give him everything he deserves rather than jail time, though make him pay for all the taxpayer money lost.
The Balloon Boy debacle is now considered a hoax, as I suspected Friday, along with many others, I’m sure. Charges are possible next week (Oct 25) against Richard Heene, who shamelessly concocted the lost boy in the weather balloon incident involving his 6 year old son Falcon, for this publicity stunt. It’s not Richard’s first failure to get fame, but let’s make it this manic obsessive’s last… as well as deter others disillusioned about getting fame via infamy at the public’s expense. If they want to do it at their own expense, they can go for it, for all I care.
For Richard Heene, though, let’s give him so much fame he will puke like Falcon did in the camera lights of the interviews last Friday. Let’s make Richard so sick of fame he’ll become a recluse for the remainder of his life! We don’t need criminal charges to put this guy in jail on taxpayer’s money for the next six years, which he could face pending the charges laid. Let him lay tiles for life, earning his living the way he is right now. The debt from this stunt should keep him busy for years to come. It should only cost over hundred thousand dollars of taxpayers’ money, after all the prosecution fees and law enforcement officer work times. But it will be an effective deterrent to keep him from ever doing this again, or others ass-piring.
So let’s bring on the paparazzi! This guy’s no flash in the pan. He’ll be in the news for a while. Who’s ever heard of a fast prosecution? And he’ll be whining and flip-flopping his personality between a macho storm chaser and besieged wimp as things drag on, unable to keep his mouth shut despite the advice of his lawyer. People will still want to hear what he has to say about it all for a while. So who’s tweeting for a flash mob of paparazzi to stalk Richard on his lawn or wherever he might be spotted? Or drive beside him wherever he drives, snapping pictures as they go? Make it impossible for him to go to Wal-mart or get groceries at the local store, though let him have some peace when he visits his kids they might take away from him cause the kids don’t deserve it.
Isn’t the National Enquirer or Perez Hilton going to have a contest for the craziest Richard Heene story or something? The guy’s pretty well known by now, and he’s done something stupid. Worse, what he did was stupid and expensive, with money and resources that didn’t belong to him. Hey, at least what Kanye West did to Taylor Swift at the VMA 2009 didn’t cost anything out of the taxpayers’ pockets. Let’s get some fair treatment for the infamous and give Richard his proper due, eh? Make him beg for jail to get away from it all! It’ll be good for the economy with all those magazines sold and stories told to tabloids and sites like Gawker (by 25 year old Robert Thomas). Who cares if it’s someone else possibly preying on him for a little cash and some short fame? It’s part of being famous!
On another front, Richard was answering questions by email before last Saturday when he was overwhelmed and said said he’d take questions on paper in a box to answer Saturday night. What ever happened to that? Anyway, spam his email like crazy knowing it’s out there and he’s famous!
Heene also seems to have abandoned his MySpace page from 2005, possibly from having garnered only 7 friends, one of whom being “Tom”, everybody’s default first friend on MySpace. Ah, yes. Now we know why the fame was so elusive and the strength of the desire to obtain it. Go write what you think of him on his Comments page, or write a blog post like I am, or create yet another Facebook group or page dissing him. Make it all part of his Internet “legacy”.
Oh, while on Internet “legacies”, my condolences for any other “Richard Heene” out there. It’s so unfair to have your name hijacked like that. But look on the bright side. At least you can now misbehave a little bit more online and no one will likely notice. That’s because the Richard Heene Internet legacy is one populated by the Balloon Dad Richard Heene, and it’s a legacy that’s getting uglier by the second. That includes stuff from long before this balloon stunt, which only confirms the running public opinion, like this blog post by Stuff Frank Finds Funny on September 13 2008. I quote:
(Richard Heene) is an amazingly creative human (now turned mad scientist) who insists on repeatedly proving that there is a very fine line between genius and insanity.
You’ve proved at least, that, Richard! Too bad you did it by elimination in showing the insanity side. But that’s what you get for doing science without knowing your science.
So I say in a less conventional way than criminal prosecution, Let’s get Balloon Dad!
Bring your own pitchfork. I’ve got mine the way Stephen Colbert’s got his in the picture above. Do you?
p.s. I did not intend to offend anyone with this tirade, just Richard Heene, so my sincere apologies if you were offended.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 6.5
(about the level sufficient for Richard Heene to comprehend, although I haven’t known any sixth or seventh grader who’s done anything so dumb)
How do I know Richard Heene is dumb?
How can you be smart and name your son Falcon only to put him in a balloon to fly?
Falcons fly on their own!
Or didn’t Richard know that?
Oh, right. He’s an amateur scientist wannabe.
I forgot. I’m sorry. My mistake and I admit it. Hint, hint, Richard.