248 Keapers completed our 2023 annual Keaper survey. In this first post of our survey debrief series, we are looking at how Keapers assessed the change in their well-being over the past 3 years.
If you enjoy a good stat or bar chart, be prepared for a feast!
Keaper well-being overview
Needless to say, averaging out this kind of data doesn’t do justice to how personal and varied the circumstances surrounding these responses are.
I found it interesting that mental health stuck out as being a tale of extremes—few people reported feeling the same as they did 3 years ago. There’s no shortage in the news around why many people are struggling more with mental health. And there are a number of hypotheses why many others may have experienced an improvement: perhaps for some of these folks the pandemic allowed for a shift in careers, or new flexibility in their work schedule and work location?
The number that jumped out most at me though was around social health. By quite some margin, Keapers reported that their social health had worsened far more than other measures of well-being in the past three years. Given the 3-year lookback range starts in July 2020—the height of the pandemic when socializing in-person was much more difficult than it is today—I found this particularly intriguing.
While I expect there are a wide variety of personal explanations underlying that average, my guess is there are a few trends affecting a larger number of people. Some hypotheses include:
In-person social habits decayed during the pandemic and have not yet been rebuilt
A lot of people moved to a new place during the pandemic — and maybe have yet to rebuild a social network in their new place
Meanwhile, perhaps many folks who haven’t moved have experienced decreased in-person socializing because many of their friends have moved
Perhaps a lot of Keapers had children and found their social activity limited by their parenting requirements
Or perhaps the pandemic forced us to be very intentional about our social lives—focusing on quality over quantity—and with resumption of in-person activity we now have more noise and lower quality socialization
Or maybe the growth of social media has cannibalized some in-person socializing
I could go on listing theories. Since we didn’t ask for any qualitative feedback here, that is as far as I could go for now.
To get to the bottom of this mystery, I’m putting a call out there. If you identify with the statement that your social health has worsened over the last 3 years, what drove this deterioration for you?
Send me your response to email@example.com! (Information you share won’t be included in our newsletter, unless specifically authorized by you).
Keapers and social media
Things got really interesting when we asked the following question:
How would you describe your current relationship to social media, and how has it changed in the last 3 years?
Since this was a free-text response field, I did my best to summarize the sentiment that came across by reading each individual response:
Around 15% of respondents reported being already completely off social media.
Another 39% reported being either passive users (they have an account but rarely look at it) or actively working to reduce their usage.
Together that’s a little more than half of Keapers who are choosing to spend less time on social media.
Anecdotally, those who said they weren’t on social media sounded from their tone the happiest about their relationship with social media.
Of the remaining 46% of respondents (who are on social media), more than two-thirds expressed mixed feelings—and mostly negative ones—about their relationship to social media. That leaves just 14% of our overall sample who are on social media and content with their relationship to it.
Of course, this is a biased sample: Keapers are probably more likely to question their use of social media than, say, professional “influencers.” Still, these numbers don’t look good for the big social media companies—and it makes me very hopeful about the re-emergence of digital alternatives that genuinely serve as social connectors.
Is social media anti-social?
We were able to pair the responses from the two above questions to check whether any connection appears between social media use and mental and social well-being. I should acknowledge that this is a profoundly unscientific sociological study and that correlation is not causation!
For this analysis, we grouped the above categories into 3 buckets: those who are on social media (whether or not they are happy about it), those who are off, and those who are reducing usage or are passive users.
Here’s what came out:
Being completely off social media correlated overall with the best change in social health. Again, correlation is not causation, but this was an interesting observation in light of the argument that “social” media has become ever less social.
Interestingly, folks who described themselves as sporadic users or working to reduce their usage experienced a worse change in social health than “full-on” social media users.
On mental health, folks who remained fully on social media saw the worst change.
Passive + Reducers and folks who went off completely look similar in the mental health summary chart below, but 54% of complete off-ers reported being better off (just 4% same), while for Passive + Reducers the split is 42%-16%.
In short, it appears as though those who reported being completely off social media also reported the best social and mental health outcomes over the past 3 years.
With each of these findings, there was a lot more detail I could have gone into. So let me know if you have any questions that come up, or insights from your experience that you want to bring to the conversation.
As always shout out with any questions, reactions, or comments. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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