Can social media really recreate itself as ‘mindful media’?

Can social media really recreate itself as ‘mindful media’?

Today  |  Michaela Jefferson 
Can social media really recreate itself as 'mindful media'?

Despite predictions that 2019 will see consumers making more conscious decisions around media consumption in the pursuit of wellbeing, it will be impossible for established social networks to negate their negative effects on mental health, say industry experts.

According to Mindshare’s 2019 trends report, consumers now have higher expectations of media and technology companies, as public understanding of those business models and their impact on our everyday lives continues to grow.

In response to this new mindset, Apple released its Screen Time function in September last year to allow users to monitor the time they spend using their mobiles. Elsewhere, Facebook launched a cyberbullying initiative to educate children on social media usage.

However, at a Mindshare Futures event this week, Dyson’s regional creative director for Europe, Bo Hellberg, said he was doubtful that tech companies such as Facebook could effectively recreate themselves as ‘mindful media’ platforms.

“I’m going to use an analogy,” Hellberg said. “Certain segments of the food industry have produced food that is not good for us for many years. It is tasty, and it makes you feel good in the moment, but fast food also contains massive amounts of sugar and fat.

“Then they got caught so they invented ‘low-fat’, where they replaced the sugar and fat with synthetic things that are equally as bad for you.

“Mindful media is very similar. You have media platforms that basically make you feel unwell, or are using lots of trigger response mechanisms that make you tap in again and again. But you can’t use the same tools that make you feel bad to fix that. You can’t use the same device as a cure.”

Hellberg was sharing a platform with Natasha Spencer Warren, agency partner at Facebook, who is currently dealing with the fallout from the news of 14-year-old Molly Russell’s suicide. The tragic news highlights the ongoing issues with social media platforms, as her father says she was influenced in part by distressing material found on Instagram.

Facebook and Instagram have billions of users and are “reflections of real life” – which includes both “the good and the bad”, Warren said. “But we work really hard to make sure that we are maximising the good that happens on our platforms.”

Nevertheless, Norm Johnston, CEO of Unruly, agreed with Hellberg’s assessment and suggested that Facebook will be forced to “apologise repeatedly” because these problems are endemic to the platform.

However, even if larger brands pulled their advertising from Facebook, the platform would continue to make huge amounts of money, Johnston said, because there are a “gazillion” small businesses in the long tail that will continue to spend and bid on its inventory.

Categories: Social Media

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