beer 2facebookSocial networks. Sigh. Oh, Facebook. Oh, Twitter. Oh, whatever other inventions that exist to connect the small world we currently live in. Oh, you all.

You were so much fun in the beginning. The good times, the bad times — together, we trekked through them all. Remember those hilarious photos of when Derrick got totally wasted and pranced around in his little sister’s ballet leotard? Or, wait for it, when Blair passed out after her seventh shot in a span of twenty minutes and everyone drew on her face with a Sharpie? Also, how can we forget when there were tons of updates about how drunk our buddies were and that someone had almost blacked out while driving down local street at over 95 mph?

Fun stuff.

Then after the novelty wore off, you all came off as backstabbers. Our parents went berserk after seeing those photos that you swore technically-challenged Mom and Dad would never stumble across. Suddenly, there was the realization that (this is especially depressing) the number of Facebook friends really doesn’t mean anything and that popularity is a big, fat lie. Society has been considerably cheapened.

And worst of all: Future employers will now most likely come across the same crap our parents have and then … And then … The future really does start to look bleak.

However, it seems like scientific researchers have managed to give you guys props for one thing: You all make for very interesting and perhaps informational resources for their studies.

Some researchers are saying that those photos and updates can actually possibly provide a sort of “red flag” for people who might be in actual clinical risk of developing or having a drinking problem.

To elaborate, a study was conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on college students (ages 18 to 20) at the University of Wisconsin and University of Washington. Over 200 Facebook profiles were analyzed for references to alcohol: Photos, status updates and comments were all closely examined. Afterwards, all the analyzed students took the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, “a survey that clinicians use to assess potential problems with alcohol.”

The results were interesting, if not overall predictable. Generally, students who often posted updates regarding alcohol and actions that seem to indicate a too-close affiliation with alcohol were more likely to be considered “at risk” for alcoholism — 58 percent of the surveyed students met the expectations for what would be considered problematic drinking.

In addition, students who shared problem drinking-style behavior on their profiles, “were more than six times likely to report an alcohol-related injury” in comparison to students who did not mention alcohol use on their profiles at all.

Then again, researchers state that the posts don’t always mean alcohol problems. Almost 23 percent of the students in the study who never mentioned alcohol on Facebook were, according to the clinical survey, considered at-risk for drinking problems.

Apparently, the key to figuring this all out is to look at how a young person talks about alcohol in context. There’s a difference between someone posting about a fantastic evening with girlfriends over wine and cheese and someone ranting about not being able to remember what happened after 2 a.m. and their umpteenth beer.

Facebook, you fancy, huh? Look at all this that professionals managed to extract. And Twitter, you had that deal last week with researchers doing a study of “mood levels” based on Tweets from around the world. You guys are certainly proving to be useful to some degree, especially since people might be able to start reaching out to students who aren’t willing to report their alcohol-related problems on their own.

But don’t get your hopes too high up. Researchers admit that you guys are definitely not too-reliable sources when it comes to tackling health problems with college students, and that there are plenty of other methods available to accomplish what they need to do. So suck on that, social media.

Okay but besides the continued sippin’ on the Haterade, congratulations to Facebook and Twitter for being deemed somewhat valuable. It’s easy to forget such credentials while we’re typing away about the idiotic details of our lives that no one else cares about. Kudos.

Image sources: Franco Bouly (top) and xJasonRodgersx (bottom) under Creative Commons
Drunken students who post Facebook photos could be at risk, study says [abcNews]

Izaak Dąbrowski said:
Mar 23, 2012 at 1:19 am