Joe Fortunato is a freelance writer from Tampa, Florida. He enjoys learning about new subjects, following his Baltimore Orioles, and traveling the country for fishing. You can find Joe on Twitter at @joey_fort. He writes for NoBullying on Cyber Rage and our Online Activity affecting our “offline” behavior.
We’ve all been there: on the Internet, safely tucked away behind a computer or mobile device when some comment – a select few pixels on an otherwise inoffensive screen – drives you mad. Maybe it’s a political opinion or an engagement announcement. Whatever it is that makes you angry, it likely inspires the urge to flat-out throw something – be it the gadget you’re using or an item close by.
Increasingly, in the contemporary age of the Internet, your online activity influences your offline behavior. Social media sites in particular pave the way for this trend. Read on to learn the offline emotions inspired by online activity. You may be surprised to learn how these real-life reactions start from a screen (and continue behind it).
Cyber Rage and Happiness
According to one study, “[Facebook] elicits the most positive effect on mood compared to other social networks.” But what activity boosts your serotonin? Consider the following activities that could inspire happiness in a social media user:
- A high number of “Likes” for a status update or other media
- Positive feedback in the form of a comment
- A shared post
- A positive private message
Users likely feel a sense of confidence from these reinforcing activities. Typically, a happy person is confident. For some, activities on social media translate to self-worth “behind the screens.” If a Facebook friend congratulates you on your recent engagement, you’re more likely to be content with the milestone.
Cyber Rage and Excitement
An Internet buzz can cause vibrations. Twitter users can become up in arms over a simple tweet. That’s to say, nothing inspires excitement like a good old-fashioned flash mob. The best tablets or smartphones can be responsible for sending the Tweets that start a mobile revolution. Sometimes excitement comes in the form of a routine.
A group called Denver Flash Mob, for example, organizes live performances of a Rocky Horror Picture Show song and dance. The information for the performance and an event-related buzz is dispersed via Twitter. In this case, the online activity generates real offline behavior that non-connected people can still experience.
Cyber Rage and Anger
According to Fast Company, “anger spreads faster on social media than any other emotion.” But how does it affect your offline behavior? Well, the more we are able to share, the more others are able to react to it – and act on it. A good example is Britain’s recent flooding problems and the lack of preparation surrounding them. Those affected by the flooding have taken to social media with their anger and, in turn, have inspired anger in others who follow the issue via Twitter and other outlets.
This online venting helps to drive action from local legislators and agencies that can promote change. In this way, anger goes live on the Internet and networks back to the disconnected.
Cyber Rage and Sadness
As it turns out, the more connected we are, the less connected we feel. The New Yorker reported on a study regarding sadness and social media, finding that the more people spent logged on to Facebook, the less happy they felt. From the beginning of the study through its end, the participants overall happiness was on a steady decline. Now, this conflicts with the previous data that suggest Facebook mostly inspires feelings of happiness. But the study in the New Yorker also notes that the social media site simply opens use up to a range of emotions – one of which is envy.
Envy, in a sense, plays a part in happiness and sadness based on social media. You may perceive that people envy you if they “like” your posts; likewise, you may unwillingly envy a Facebook friend if they have and display things on the site that you don’t have and may wish you had yourself. This feeling of envy can lead to sadness and a sense of inadequacy for some.
Cyber Rage and Fear
Bullying has become one of the most distressing examples of online activity influencing offline behavior. Bullying via social media has inspired fear in many teens who worry that their actions will be scrutinized publicly on the Internet. In many cases, online bullying has led to a fear of harassment so intense that the victim experiences depression. In some extreme instances, the victim commits a violent act offline – suicide or homicide – in response.