Science Tells Us What We Already Know, Says That Social Media Users Find Change ‘Stressful’
Breaking nerds! Um, news. Breaking news.
Every single time Twitter or Facebook changes their layout in a big way, everybody gets upset — either at the changes themselves, or at all the people who are freaking out over the changes. A group of researchers decided to study this phenomenon, and found that there are ways for social media websites to mitigate this nerd rage.
Using 1,149 user comments made during the the introduction of Facebook’s Timeline, Pamela Wisniewski and Heng Xu of Penn State’s information sciences and technology department, as well as Yunan Chen from the informatics in University of California Irvine, found that 67 percent of the Facebook users in their study reacted negatively to the changes and felt the transition to be “highly stressful.” Gee, it’s almost like humans cling to the familiar and aren’t good at adapting to new things in an emotionally mature and responsible way, huh?
The researchers also suggest that most of this negative coping was brought on by the very specific way in which Facebook rolled out the changes. In the findings they presented today at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, they pointed out that not only did Facebook introduce too many changes at once and run the risk of confusing their user base, but they also did not provide these users with a place to express their emotions or give feedback. Initially Facebook had a blog post about the changes, but according to Wisniewski, the company closed the blog pretty quickly after, leaving behind a huge vacuum of angry feelings bouncing off of one another.
“Without providing more users feedback, not only was there more negativity, but a lot of the information that was causing the negativity was actually based on misinformation,” said Wisniewski. “Being more responsive and sharing information with users can stop some of this misinformation.”
Basically, if users feel that they are well-informed and have some leeway with the companies they endorse, they feel less compelled to bitch about what a suck fest the new service changes might be, regardless of whether or not those changes are actually sucky. All social media websites need to do is stop indirectly reminding their users that they have no modicum of control over their lives and are merely stranded in the constant reactionary loop that is human consciousness. That sounds easy enough! It’s what the Internet is for, after all. Here, let’s go find some kitten videos to watch and sink into comfortable, cute-induced numbness.