Monday, January 25th, 2021

The New Big Brother: How Social Media Is Creating An ‘Orwellian’ Society

Published on March 24, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment
The logo of the social network "Facebook" is reflected in the pupil of an eye. (Photo: Joerg Koch / DAPD)The logo of the social network “Facebook” is reflected in the pupil of an eye. (Photo: Joerg Koch / DAPD)

Joint research conducted by academics from the University of Edinburgh Business School, the University of Bath and the University of Birmingham have uncovered previously held concerns about how social media is affecting the lives of young, impressionable users.

Following in-depth interviews with a number of 19-22-year-old Britons, the study found that many Facebook users were self-censoring their day-to-day lives, known as a “chilling effect” to avoid disapproval from online friends.

“The vast majority of the ones that participated in the study had been, to an extent, chilling their behavior, due to the fear of what would go online,” Dr Ben Marder, researcher from the University of Edinburgh Business School, told Sputnik.


One of those who participated in the study, a 20-year-old student by the name of *Emma, said she would be constantly monitoring her behavior while in social situations to avoid creating a negative online perception of herself.

“At parties every time a picture was taken I [would] put the spliff behind my back so people on Facebook don’t think I’m a constant druggie,” she said.

“If the photo was not going to end up on Facebook, I wouldn’t care as much […] because not everyone would see it.”

Another participant, a 21-year-old called *Shelly, admitted she had changed the way she interacted with others at parties to avoid damaging any of her personal relationships.

“I remember during freshers’ [university orientation] week I had a boyfriend. He was really jealous and he saw some pictures of me on someone’s shoulders… and just went mental at me. So I had to consciously think every time there was a camera out: ‘oh, am I standing too close to this boy?’ “


While the monitoring of online behavior isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, Dr Marder said the prevalence of social media and the increased availability and accessibility of modern technology was blurring the lines between the online and offline lives of some people.

“We’re not just monitoring our online persona, but we’re monitoring our offline persona too.”

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