Friday, May 31, 2013

The country that shares the most online is...

The Washington Post reported the results of a recent Ipsos survey which asked social media users around the world how much they shared online.  

Now take a few seconds and think about which country you would put at the top of the list...

Would it be the USA?  Japan? Guess again.  Those two countries were well below the world average.

The clear leader on the list was...wait for it...Saudi Arabia.  

While the data are not based on actual sharing behavior, sometimes surveys are all you have for the moment for practical reasons.  Ipsos points to an interesting relationship between Internet penetration in a country and the amount of "oversharing" or "undersharing" that takes place.  The relationship, which should be seen as tentative given the type of data we are talking about, suggests that when the Internet has significantly penetrated a country (like the U.S., for example) those citizens will "undershare."  On the other hand, in places where the Internet has not penetrated much, (like the Middle East and Africa) "oversharing" is common.

You can read the rest of the article here

From an behavior analytic perspective, what are we to make of this relationship?  The concepts of "oversharing" and "undersharing" can be thought of as an accumulation of millions of individuals' behavior, or what Sigrid Glenn calls "macrobehavior" which may or may not comprise a "macrocontingency."  The latter describes a relationship between cumulative behavior and a cumulative outcome.  For example, the cumulative behavior of millions of people driving to work everyday generates the cumulative outcome of more pollution -- the relationship between the two is called a macrocontingency.

But what would constitute the cumulative outcome of "oversharing" or "undersharing"?  The article provides a hint in the case of Saudi Arabia.  The influx of social media in that country has "polarized social factions....which have given neither the government nor users an opportunity to catch up."  

In a countries with heavy-handed governments, social media and the freedom of communication it allows, is surely a threat to their rulers' power.

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