Social media influences and affects human needs, said Paul Chappell, peace literacy director of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, at the Growing Excellent and Exciting Exempt lecture series Feb. 25.
Professionals in the field of nonprofit organizations are invited to present at the monthly lecture series focusing on nonprofit development, leadership and innovation. Chappell’s talk, titled “Conflict Resolution & Peace Literacy,” focused on healing from trauma and promoting peace.
Chappell taught nine basic nonphysical human needs: purposeful meaning, nurturing relationships, explanations, expressions, inspiration, belonging, self-worth, challenge and transcendence.
Linking each of these to social media use, he explained how social media fulfills all nine human needs.
Social media fulfills the human need for self-worth with its instant gratification, he said. The like button fulfills a need for nurturing relationships.
It’s also a way many people get their news.
“Many people use social media more for news than traditional news outlets, so if somebody wanted to know why this happened and they want an explanation, they’re more likely to go to social media than to traditional news outlets. That’s why fake news works in social media, because people seek explanations often on Facebook and Twitter,” Chappell said.
About 1 in 5 Americans get news from social media, while 16 percent use traditional news sources, according to 2018 study from the Pew Research Center.
Chappell said human needs can be manipulated by what he calls “tangles of trauma,” which means any traumatic experience or unresolved rage that could distort human needs, and social media can play a part in that manipulation as well.
A sense of purpose manipulated by trauma can become nihilistic, nurturing relationships can lead to mistrust, and the need for explanations can lead to a ruthless worldview, Chappell said.
He added that expressions can be manipulated into rage; inspiration can become cynicism; a sense of belonging manipulated by trauma can lead to alienation; self-worth can become self-loathing; seeking challenges can lead to feelings of helplessness; transcendence can become addiction to social media.
Daniel Stewart, an attendee of the event, said that so many people are drawn to their phones nowadays for social interaction.
“A lot of it to me is about connection. People pick up their phones and think ‘Who can I connect with?’” Stewart said.
Chappell said it is difficult to keep trauma separate from the outside world, especially in the age of social media.
We’ve always had to navigate two different worlds. We’ve always had to navigate our inner world and our outer world, meaning, our belonging, our self-worth, our explanations, our worldview. Any inner tangles of trauma we have are part of our inner world. Our outer world consists of physical reality. Now the two worlds overlap and they affect each other,Chappell
“We’ve always had to navigate two different worlds. We’ve always had to navigate our inner world and our outer world, meaning, our belonging, our self-worth, our explanations, our worldview. Any inner tangles of trauma we have are part of our inner world. Our outer world consists of physical reality. Now the two worlds overlap and they affect each other,” Chappell said.
Andrea Harris, a Cal State Fullerton alumna, said she believes Chappell is teaching not to stay off social media but instead that it has harmful, lasting effects and should be used with caution to avoid those effects.
“People are so lonely. People are so disconnected, so they go to social media to fill this void and feel like they’re somebody. But then that same social media it turns on them and it becomes the thing that makes them feel tired and undervalued and invisible and unliked,” Harris said.