Professor and Researcher at CSU Fullerton: Social Media

Isabel Guerrero, Katie Mahon, Miranda Bravo, and Marissa Zaidi

Intro about Dr. Carrie Carmody:

Isabel asks Dr. Carmody, “In your 2012 paper it was mentioned that society becomes more comfortable with social media and electronic socialization users will learn to integrate this tool and moderate its usage. Do you feel that since the time you wrote that paper that it has become more comfortably integrated or are there remaining issues with…”

Dr. Carmody expresses that when she began her research back in 2008-2009, social media was the new way to “hang out” socially. Today, social media is no longer just about networking, it is part of the bigger picture including the internet and digital marketing. Dr. Carmody goes on to explain that people from Gen Zers to Boomers are using social media every day, so yes, it is used a lot more than was anticipated in 2012.

Miranda asks Dr. Carmody, “Do introverts vs introverts use social media differently and if so, how does it vary?”

Dr. Carmody explains that when she was doing her research, data was limited to college students. She found that there was a fundamental difference in the way that extroverts and introverts were using it. Extroverts seemed to be collecting people, as in having 1500 “friends”.  Their online relationships were shallower but they were mostly interacting with people in the real world and transitioning it over to social media.

Introverts were having deeper online relationships with fewer people on their social media platforms. They tended to not interact with people in the real world and social media was an easier way of connecting for them. Differences were shown from the beginning in regard to social media use and people’s personalities.

Carmody’s Research:

Dr. Carmody mentions that instead of waiting tables in Hollywood hoping to get discovered is no longer the trend. “Now you try to become an Instagram influencer instead”. Carmody goes on to state that she lives in Temecula currently and was recently persuaded into joining the Nextdoor app. She says what she sees on that app is fundamentally different from what she sees posted on her Instagram or Facebook. The type of people and conversations are different which highlights the different ways and perspectives that we’re communicating via social media. She quotes Bill Gates saying “social networking will become the townsquare of the future”. She says “Now I think it has become a townsquare. I think the downside is: Who’s townsquare?” 

Isabel asks “Are there ways that you can see us positively integrating social media into our lives since there is a concern with internet addiction?” Carmody says when looking at internet addiction, we are at the point where we need to split it up. What exactly are we doing on the internet? She says that she thinks we can positively use social media but we also have to be aware of what the programming is via social media. She believes that crowdsourcing information is helpful. She mentions that we don’t want to be in a situation like China where they regulate how long you are online for and what you are allowed to see. To summarize, yes we can positively integrate social media, however how we use it has a lot to do with the outcome, according to Dr. Carmody. Social media is a tool we use to connect and we can misuse it or we can positively use it. 

Dr. Carmody, Miranda, and Isabel all talked about the convenience and comfortability of taking online classes and how that became much more popular due to COVID, and now students have the choice to take online classes. With social media we have now become so comfortable with these platforms as they have evolved over the last ten years and there is a convenience to them. With social media in American culture we have the right to choose and freedom of speech. Dr. Carmody compared this concept to nuclear fusion which brought the atomic bomb, but also provided cleaner and cheaper electricity. Also due to becoming more comfortable with social media, the use of online dating and dating apps have increased.

Dr. Carmody also talked about how each social media platform is different and has different purposes. Isabel gave the example of using discord to connect with classmates and reach out with questions relating to school. And Dr. Carmody added to that, saying social media use of discord was good, and that with each platform it depends on what you use them for. Internet addiction could be a problem depending on what you are doing on a social media platform. If you’re interested in dating but looking at porn then that is a negative internet addiction and could cause problems in your relationships. Dr. Carmody also brought up such a good point in relationships “there is a weird disconnect where if it’s online it’s not real and not cheating.” The definition of cheating has also been in question and hard to define, but with the internet it has become even harder to know if someone is cheating and how to define that. 

Carmody’s advice for general research and our project:

Dr.Carmody gave Isabel and Miranda advice on how to conduct good research study. She was prompted with the question “What would you say is the most important thing to remember in the research process?” In her response Dr.Carmody said having a complete understanding of what we are researching. Dr. Carmody gave the analogy that if a researcher is looking at if new Starbucks cups are better or worse, how is better or worse defined? There has to be certainty in what exactly we are researching; conducting extensive research in our topic prior to even beginning in order to have a great understanding of our topic. Topic is social media and relationships, but since social media is so broad we have to have clarity in what social media is. In addition, since our research is also involving romantic relationships we have to define how social media is being used in the relationship. In order to avoid the “We didn’t think about this” scenario, we need to have a clear understanding of our topic. 

We explained to Dr. Carmody what our research focus is. We are focusing on how other people perceive relationships when they are posted online. For example, when someone posts their engagement photos, how do people react? Do they want a relationship or do they find the post cheesy? She talks to us about impression management and how people usually have an unrealistic idea about how other people’s lives are. She said an important question to keep in mind is if people are recognizing that the posts are curated or are we assuming it’s their real life. In order to understand people’s reactions, we need to understand all the potential reactions that people could have. 

Interview Clip:

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