Noah Crane

Likes, Lady Gaga, and Loneliness: The Beneficial Impacts of Active Social Media Usage and Para-Social Relationships on FOMO and Loneliness

April 3, 2021   /  

Name: Noah Crane
Major: Psychology
Minor: Sociology
Advisors: Dr. Evan Wilhelms, Dr. Amy Jo Stavnezer (second reader)

The emergence of social media within the past decade has allowed individuals to be more connected than ever before and receive new information instantaneously. However, social media usage has been shown to negatively impact user’s subjective well-being. The effects of social media on well-being can vary depending on how social media is employed as well as whether or not meaningful relationships in social media are present. This study investigated how the effects of passive versus active social media use and the prevalence of one’s para-social relationships influenced their reported feelings of loneliness and FOMO (fear of missing out), as well as other measures of subjective well-being. A survey was conducted that contained an experimental essay writing section followed by a questionnaire of several measures of social media usage and subjective well-being. Results indicated that active social media use predicted decreased feelings of social media, while passive use and strength of one’s para-social relationships did not impact one’s loneliness. Additionally, participants in the para-social writing condition experienced nominally decreased loneliness compared to the control condition. These findings demonstrate that active social media usage can be beneficial for one’s feelings of loneliness when using social media, and that para-social relationships also have the potential to lead to benefits through other factors. This study suggests that social media has the ability to improve overall well-being when used in an active manner, which is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic where society is relying on online platforms more so than ever before.

Noah will be online to field comments on April 16:
noon-2pm EDT (PST 9-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening) and 4-6 pm EDT (PST 1-3pm, Africa/Europe: late evening)

66 thoughts on “Likes, Lady Gaga, and Loneliness: The Beneficial Impacts of Active Social Media Usage and Para-Social Relationships on FOMO and Loneliness”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Noah – it’s such an important topic to keep exploring with the prevalence of social media in our lives. Given the overall correlation with the amount of hours spent (somewhat regardless of social or para-social) and negative affect, would you suggest it’s important to decrease total time spent on these sites, or that how you interact is more important?

    1. Hi Dr. Stavnezer! Thank you so much for watching my presentation. It means so much to me. To answer your question, I would say that how one interacts with social media platforms is more important than overall decreasing time, due to the benefits that active use has on loneliness. In this time of limited in-person interactions due to the pandemic, it is very difficult to completely decrease the total time spent on these sites and still feel connected to friends and family. It is a balance to engage in social media sites for an amount of time that makes one feel connected while not spending too much time that it has negative effects on your well-being. Thank you for your thoughtful question!

  2. This is a great project Noah. I found the mediation analysis particularly compelling. And the presentation was interesting and clear. Excellent work!!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Dr. Nurse! It means the world to me to have your support.

  3. Do you think that the sometimes overwhelming effects of social media have driven people away from using certain platforms? I know many people, for example, who have gotten off of Facebook entirely because of disputes, misinformation or feeling that they aren’t getting enough “likes” or friend requests.

    Your study was terrific Noah! Congrats on a job well done! It’s been a pleasure to know you and your family these past four years. You are a great guy and Abby couldn’t have asked for a better friend! Best of luck in the future Noah and keep in touch!

    1. Hi Tom! You are too thoughtful, thank you so much. To answer your question, I definitely think that the overwhelming content that is streamlined on certain social media platforms can deter people from using them. For example, many people can get frustrated with what others are posting as well as whether or not other people are responding well to their own posts. It can be a slippery slope, especially with a platform such as Facebook that is constantly giving out a ton of information and content to its users.

      Thank you so much for everything, Tom! I am so lucky to have Abby as a friend and can’t imagine my time at Wooster without her. I will definitely keep in touch, and appreciate your well wishes!

  4. Congratulations, Noah, on completing your I.S. journey, and for this exploration of questions that have (perhaps different) implications for multiple generations in our society. We wish you all the best in your plans beyond Wooster!

    1. Thank you so much for watching my presentation Dr. Pasteur! It has been an honor to have you as a professor here at Wooster, and I hope that you have a great rest of your semester.

  5. Hi Noah, Congratulations on completing your I.S. It’s certainly a timely topic. I wish you much success in your future endeavors!

  6. Congratulations, Noah. I enjoyed watching your video. What an interesting topic!

  7. This is a really interesting study and a thoughtful way to approach research on the impact of social media.

  8. Great work, Noah! You found some interesting relationships to explore for future research! Personally, I use social media differently than my teenage daughter and for different purposes (plus, we use different platforms). Nevertheless, I’d say that social media helps us both feel more connected, albeit in different ways. I’m curious about whether you think the relationship between active use and loneliness might depend on the type of social media, age, and/or what someone hopes to gain from their social media connections?

    1. Thank you for watching Dr. Abraham! I completely agree with your sentiment that individuals of different age groups and backgrounds employ social media in a different manner and for different purposes. I think that the relationship that I found between active use and loneliness might be different if I was sampling a population other than college students. Especially since the amount of time spent on social media is generally higher for younger individuals compared to older individuals. Additionally, the types of social connections formed by some people on social media can differ depending on what platform they are using and why they might be engaging with it in the manner that they are. These would be interesting ideas to investigate for future research. Thanks for a very thoughtful question!

  9. Really interesting study, Noah. Your mediation analysis makes me wonder about causation. If you could run this as an experiment, what do you think you’d find? What would manipulate in the lab, FOMO or loneliness? So many options!

    1. Thank you so much for watching Dr. Foster! I think that running this as an experiment would lead to a lot of interesting results. I think that I would manipulate FOMO since that comes before active use and loneliness in my mediation analysis. I also believe that I might find more results related to why FOMO leads to more active use. Thank you for your thoughtful question!

  10. This is a really interesting topic! As a chronic sufferer of FOMO, I’m curious how you decided to research this topic.

    1. Thank you Sofia! I knew that I wanted to examine the effects of social media use on well-being, and once I began to do some initial research I found that social media had some interesting effects on FOMO. I also felt that FOMO was something that a lot of young adults was experiencing during the pandemic. Thanks for watching!

  11. This is a great study Noah! For me, social media has helped me stay connected with family and friends, as well as helped me learn about culturally relevant topics and take part in webinars I might have never heard of otherwise. But, FOMO is a real thing and I’ve felt it for sure.

    We are very proud of you and are grateful for your friendship with Abby and with us as well!

    1. Thank you so much Ann! I am so honored to be Abby’s friend and am grateful for all of your support. I agree that social media can help us stay connected during this time, and social connectedness is one of the mechanisms that lead to benefits when using social media. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  12. A very interesting and timely IS topic that is nicely presented. Best of luck in your future endeavors! Congratulations Noah!

  13. Excellent job Noah Crane. I learn something new every time I read this or hear you speak about it. To say we are proud of you is an understatement! Keep being you, there’s no one better!
    Love you Bubba❤
    Go Scots 🖤💛

  14. Congratulations on a great research topic, Noah! This was extremely interesting and very relevant in the world today. Great job!!

  15. Excellent job Noah! Dad is so proud of you. Based on your research, it looks like I have to increase my active usage of social media which would mean posting more than once a month.

  16. Hi Noah, Congratulations! I really enjoyed your IS. What a great topic and your presentation was very well done. If you were to further your research on this topic, what factors would you consider adding or looking further into?

    1. Thank you so much Anna! You are too kind. I think that if I did further research on this topic, I would want to include more measures investigating interpersonal relationships and how people interactions with close others on social media impact their well-being. Thanks for watching and for your thoughtful question!

  17. Is it too corny to say I “like” this? Great work, Noah! Your research is timely and the presentation of your work was very clear.

    I was interested in knowing your thoughts – do you think the correlations you observed will grow or diminish over the next few years? And would you recommend other passive social media users such as myself to change habits to become more active participants to avoid future feelings of loneliness?

    1. Hi Kathleen! Thank you so much for watching. I “like” your questions! I would say that these correlations will grow overtime as new social media platforms become more mainstream. Additionally, I would recommend making changes to employ more active use instead of passive use when engaging with social media. Hope that all is well!

  18. Hi Noah! Great study with tons of valuable info!!! Extremely timely–was this an area of interest before COVID? There just aren’t a lot of studies out there yet which were run during COVID! As you’ve said in your comments, there are so many prospective studies which could come from this initial one. From one SUNY Albany MSW to a fellow prospective alum, congratulations and looking forward to what you do next! See you at graduation!

    1. Thank you so much Nancy! I was actually thinking about doing this type of research before the pandemic started. I knew that it would be important and timely to do once the pandemic was in full effect and impacting the way in which we all live. I am so grateful to have your wisdom and expertise when it comes to Albany’s MSW program. Thank you for all of your support!

  19. Great job Noah!!! Congrats! How do you think your study could play into your career interests?

    1. Thanks Matt! I think that my study informs us how we can use social media as a tool to help people struggling with problems related to their mental wellbeing. And as someone who is on track to becoming a clinical social worker, this study helps me to better understand the ways that online platforms can help or hinder one’s well-being and mental health. Thank you for the thoughtful question!

  20. THAT IS MY BABY BROTHER! Wonderful job Bubba, you rocked that presentation! I am so proud of you and cannot wait to see what you do next! I love you always my dude!

    If you completed this study before COVID, do you think that your results would be any different?

    1. THANKS SO MUCH MAL! Your support means everything to me and I am so lucky to have you as my sister throughout this entire process. Love you always ❤️

      I think that the results would not be as significant if this study was completed prior to COVID, since the reliance on online platforms wouldn’t be as great. However, I think that the direction of these results would remain the same. Great question!

  21. Hi Noah! I missed the live comment session, but this is such an interesting and timely topic! Great job!!!!!!

  22. Great job Noah! I really enjoyed your perspective on social media as we rely on it more so than ever before.

  23. Awesome work, Noah! Dr. Abraham posed the same question I had. I’ve seen, just anecdotally by scrolling online, how younger users on Tik-Tok, for example, use social media much differently than people my age on Instagram (or similar sites). Younger users on Tik-Tok seem much more willing to engage in self-disclosure, and in different ways from users of different age-cohorts on Twitter. It’s very powerful, though I’m sure there’s still a lot of variability among users and within different sites. Great work. So happy I got to know you last year, and was able to hear more about your work just now.

    1. Thank you so much Dr. Thomas! Your support means the world to me, and I am honored to have had you as a professor.

  24. Great job and congratulations on your IS, Noah! You set up a very interesting study and I loved how you used and explained the statistics.

    Best wishes!

  25. Hi Noah! I loved your topic, presentation, and method. I graduated in 2017 from Wooster, and my Independent Study focused on rhetorical strategies employed by celebrities to create and maintain online communities on Twitter (fandoms, basically). At that point, it was hard to find much research on online para-social relationships, so it’s really exciting to see the increased interest and understanding that this topic plays a significant role in the lives of college students, especially in an age of physical isolation.

    Did you ask participants to share the number of followers they had on different social media platforms? I sometimes wonder how individuals who profit from online “influencing” interpret FOMO online when they may be the object of many individuals para-social relationships.

    Were you interested in this as an IS topic before the start of the COVID 19 pandemic?

    Congrats on a job well done in an ever-expanding field!

    1. Hi Bailey! Thank you so much for watching my presentation and for your kind words. As part of my questionnaire, I asked participants to estimate how many people they follow on social media platforms that they knew personally and how many that they did not know personally. My research found a positive correlation between the strength of para-social relationships and one’s FOMO, which is in line with your point about FOMO online and individuals being the object of para-social relationships.
      I was interested in this general topic before the start of the pandemic, and then the pandemic solidified my decision to pursue this research. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments!

  26. Wow! This is great work and very relevant. I’ve had multiple discussions with friends this past year wondering if social media is any good haha. Glad to hear it can be! Thanks for sharing, Noah!!

  27. You absolutely popped off with your IS, hunny! It’s an amazing topic and you should be so proud! Not only did you accomplish this, but you have been a source of light for us all through this process and these 4 years. I love you so much, and I’m so lucky to have you in my life. Congrats!!!

    1. Thank you so much sweetheart! Your love and support is everything to me and I can’t believe that we are at this point where IS is done. I love you so much and can’t wait to see all that you do in the future ❤

  28. Yay Noah!!! I’m so incredibly proud of you! Your work ethic and intelligence always blows me away and I’m so happy that your IS turned out so well! I’m so grateful for your love and friendship the past 4 years. You’re incredible and I can’t wait to see you succeed in grad school! Love you forever honey!!

    1. Abby I love you so much! Thank you for always being there for being and your constant support of me. It means everything and more. I can’t wait to see all that you do after graduation ❤

  29. Noah!

    This is super interesting! I’m so used to studying the negative implications of social media usage so this is very refreshing!

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