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Watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma was interesting and disturbing. It was interesting to see how it was constructed but disturbing to see that many of the psychological techniques the documentary vilified were used by the producers to tell their own story. As a persuasive piece of media, it is very successful: Part documentary, part drama, it hits all the anxiety triggers of the last few years. The content is compelling and frightening — and also one-sided. The issues raised are serious and important, but not new. The call to action is to put down your smartphone and back away, not…


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Summary

  • Clubhouse is the ‘app dujour.’ A throwback, it is audio-only for drop-in discussions, serendipitous meetings, and eavesdropping without shame.
  • Invitation- and IOS-only, exclusivity, celebrity, and FOMO fuel its appeal; voice transmits emotion without the distraction of video, creating a sense of intimacy.
  • Popular with marketers and Influencers, there is a heavy undercurrent of purposeful audience building for monetization.
  • Wherever there are Influencers, brands will follow, but so far, they haven’t figured out how to capitalize on the all-audio format.
  • Topics range from business strategies, global wellness, and individual empowerment self-help to inspiration. …

  • Social media fame is more fragile and less likely to endure than the celebrity of actors and musicians.
  • Influencers’ success relies less on their content and more on maintaining an emotional connection with their fans.
  • Fans are fickle at the best of times. Generalized COVID anxiety and hypersensitivity to social issues make fans more reactive than ever to influencers behaving offensively.
  • Brands can’t afford to maintain a relationship with an influencer whose behavior violates consumers’ values. The loss of trust is sticky and expensive for brands.
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Many successful people will tell you that fame is illusory at best. That doesn’t…


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Almost all good parenting advice starts with communication. Here are some tips to help guide your conversation when it comes to tackling cancel culture.

The first step in any hard conversation is to be a detective. Before you share your ideas and concerns, if you find out what the other person thinks, you will have a much more successful talk and be more likely to be heard yourself. You have to know what kids think and believe before you can provide any guidance. Their view and priorities are unlikely to be the same as yours. You want them to grow…


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Don’t agree with them? Find them offensive? Don’t like them? Cancel them!

Cancel culture — publicly ‘canceling’ or calling out someone for words or actions that you find offensive, disagree with, or just plain don’t like — is everywhere. It can be simple finger-pointing or a coordinated demand for retribution for alleged transgressions, urging the audience to join in and add their voice to hasten the severe penalties of social ostracization. It started as a means of social change, a way of speaking individual truths to positions of power. But where it was once focused on authority figures, public humiliation and shaming have become the ‘go-to’ means of voicing disapproval, real or…


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TikTok is the current app parents love to hate. A mobile app that allows users to create and share short videos, it was the most downloaded app of 2020. TikTok challenges continue to fill the news alongside reports of the big bucks that young TikTok stars are pulling down from endorsement deals — both of which terrify parents.

As the name suggests, a TikTok challenge asks or “challenges” the viewer to take some action and record it for sharing on TikTok. Challenges are found using hashtag searches and typically start from trending TikTok videos based on songs, dance moves, movie…


Using entertainment for comfort, escape, and positivity can be an important antidote to COVID stress and Zoom fatigue. Holiday movies are a reliable and popular choice. Media companies have noticed, and some have upped their investment in holiday “feel good” movies. For example, according to the LA Times, Mar Visa entertainment has gone from investing about 10% of its development funds in holiday movies to about 50%. Why? Holiday movies make us happy.

Psychologists talk about happiness by distinguishing between two types: hedonic and eudaimonic. Hedonic happiness is what we feel from sensations of pleasure and enjoyment. It tends to…


Zoom is so prevalent that “Zoom” is now synonymous with video conferencing. The use of Zoom and other digital communications tools has skyrocketed given the number of people working and living in relative isolation due to COVID precautions and lockdowns. So many of us are Zooming (yes, it’s now a verb, too) that we are experiencing a new form of burnout: Zoom Fatigue. Let’s face it. Zooming can be exhausting — and for good reasons.

The numbers are impressive from a business perspective, but a bit frightening from a psychological one. By June 2020, Zoom’s subscriptions had increased by 350%…


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As the election draws near, kids of politicians are making news by speaking up to discourage voters from supporting their parents. ( See Beth Greenfield’s article.) Typical teenage rebellion? That’s far too simplistic. A combination of a major developmental task, prominent (and conservative) parents, and the amplification effect of digital media make a perfect storm for what psychologists would call differentiation and the parents under attack would call disrespect or rebellion.

However you choose to label it, differentiating from the nuclear family is a key developmental task for all teenagers and young adults. Everyone needs to figure out who they…


Continually checking your cellphone, scrolling news stories or experiencing news cycle fatigue? Sadly, it is impossible to distinguish election-anxiety behaviors like those from COVID-anxiety behaviors when it comes to media use. Both types of anxiety have the same damaging stress responses in your body but they can have very different worries and triggers. Triggers are not the cause of anxiety, but they can activate and intensify it. You can learn how to identify triggers and develop coping strategies that will help manage your election anxiety.

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Anxiety disorders were already common before COVID. Now, the combination of COVID and a hostile…

Dr. Pamela Rutledge

Pamela Rutledge is a media psychologist, prof, writer, researcher & consultant, looking for the ‘why’ that drives media consumption, meaning & impact.

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