Sunday, 13 January 2019

Professor Vanman, Facebook, and stress

Stress is a good thing.

Perhaps that needs some qualification: stress is a good thing in the appropriate context and  to an appropriate level. In a situation that calls for Fight or Flight, a surge of cortisol makes you fight harder or longer and run further or faster. But inappropriate levels of stress can bring a Fight-or-flight situation to the boil. If the stuff of 21st century life ratchets up the stress even before the stressee has to deal with a trying situation, Fight or Flight may become the default options – rather than, say, compromise, reasoning, counting to ten, backing-down, doing something else, clarification ...
(That's a good one; it tends to crop up, for some reason. with respect to Northern Ireland. In the early days of the Good Friday Agreement the IRA kept asking for it. And now, in what one hopes (vainly) will be the dying days of the Brexit shenanigans...
(to use an arguably-Irish-based term, [and you can check out the other possibilities here])
... it has cropped up again as what Mrs May hopes to get over the EU's possible enforcement of The Backstop [a whole 'nother diet of worms])
... or whatever. Sometimes taking the hit and then sending a sweary text to an innocent bystander does the job.

That was the stress relief I used the other day after  the <expletive_deleted> machine dispensed The Wrong Ticket. [In fact it had dispensed what I asked for, an Off-Peak Single, rather than what I wanted – an Off-Peak Return. Garbage In Garbage Out.

Back at the ranch, I logged in to the National Rail site, fearing that my mistaken order might be preserved for posterity as a Favorite. and while I was there I let off a bit more steam on their Feedback form:
The Favorites feature is counter-intuitive at best, and probably useless. My "Favorite" journey (which I haven't done for years, and was never a Favorite – I did it 2 or 3 times) is Reading-Swindon. I tried to remove this, but can't.

I wanted to change my Favorites because yesterday I accidentally ordered a single when I wanted a Return – and I wanted to avoid this option popping up in future.

Surely it's not beyond the wit of a web developer ...
(I'll tell you for free: it'd be easy)
 ... to have a check-prompt such as this: "Are you sure you want a single, when you could have a return for the same price? There's surely no downside to leaving your options open.")

But, returning to the Favorites list, it should have checkboxes and buttons for Remove and Add. I can't think how any developer could FAIL to offer these simple options.

On the bus home from the station, I  picked up a copy of Metro. which is worth every penny of its cover price (non-Londoners note: it's free). My eye was caught by an article with the headline Does a Facebook Diet Work? – based on some research led by the splendidly named Professor Vanman. It was probably too much to hope that his first name might be Dwight (geddit? or rather  geddit?).

I did some research (naturally the Metro article gave no clue), and found that the study in question was done at the University of Queensland nearly a year ago.
“People have long reported in other research that Facebook can make them feel bad about themselves or that it stresses them. Many people quit Facebook permanently because of it. Others take ‘Facebook Vacations’, in which they either deactivate or quit Facebook for a few days, weeks, or even months,” Vanman told PsyPost.

“Our research shows that ‘quitting’ Facebook for just five days is enough to reduce one’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The control group, who didn’t give up Facebook, did not show this.”
But there's a catch. Professor Vanman (not Dwight, I'm afraid, but Eric) goes on:
“We also found, however, that people who were instructed to give up Facebook for 5 days were less satisfied with their lives. Many were openly happy when the study was finished because they could return to Facebook,”...

[I]t could be that being off Facebook for the first few days reduces stress, but, the longer one feels like he or she is missing out, cortisol starts to increase again. We also don’t know if this would apply to giving up other social media like Twitter or SnapChat. We suspect these effects aren’t unique to Facebook.”
The Metro article sums up with a quote from another of the University of Queensland researchers: "There may be a sweet spot in terms of time spent on social media".

Moderation in everything: sounds about right. But where there's a catch (there may be a downside to total abstinence) there's often a counter-catch (rebuttal). The PsyPost article reporting on the study was dated 1 April 2018.

That's all for now

PS Prize for  inappropriate register-selection in a translation
At the end of what was  on the whole a rather good mini-series (Manhunt aired recently on ITV) a bereaved father speaking in fairly good but hesitant English, when told  that his daughter's death could have been avoided but for a simple  bureaucratic slip on the part of a team investigating an earlier murder, says with a Gallic shrug  "Mistakes get made".  
Surely not. "People make mistakes" or the less fluent "One makes mistakes" (echoing a construction with on), or the rather better "Everyone makes mistakes".... But the extremely colloquial medio-passive ...
(technical grammar knowledge Best Before November 2009, when I last taught) 
 ...seems to me most unlikely... 
(not wrong, but too right).
Update 2019.03.15.15:30 – Added inline PS.

No comments:

Post a Comment