The number of people actively using social media is around the three billion mark. In the current Covid pandemic, such tools are increasingly useful for keeping in touch with friends and relatives when social distancing and lockdown are in place. Conversely, the additional activity and updates means that many users are becoming weary of the information overload and report feelings of “burnout” in using the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other applications and websites.
Research in the International Journal of Business Information Systems, looks at this phenomenon of social media burnout in terms of ambivalence and emotional exhaustion. These two responses to the often overwhelming nature of constant online updates and the deluge of new information, whether worthy or trivial, have been present throughout the short history of online social media but are now being discussed more commonly.
Users talk of “taking a vacation” from their social media apps, having a “digital detox”, or giving up during a culture-associated “fasting” period, for instance.
Bo Han of the College of Business at the Texas A&M University-Commerce, Shih Yung Chou of Dillard College of Business Administration at Midwestern State University, USA, and Tree Chang of the Department of Social Work and Service Management at Tatung Institute of Technology, Taiwan, have integrated the concept of benevolence value in the user experience of online social media for the first time.
A new model of the user response emerges from their work that will help guide the social media research community in understanding user behaviour as these services mature and evolve. It should also provide clues for managers of the various services hoping to learn how to preclude burnout in their users and so encourage their continued use of the services without compromising their mental health.
Han, B., Chou, S.Y. and Chang, T. (2021) ‘Does the benevolence value matter when social media burnout strikes?’, Int. J. Business Information Systems, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp.288–302.