Increasingly we see hundreds of reports telling us about how many people are using twitter, uploading photos to Flickr, the average number of friends we have on Facebook. But what about the deeper more complex questions about how is the web making people feel? Or even discussing if this is an important question to ask? So we decided to ask it!
Over the last few months, I’ve had the fortune to work with some great people in the area of Social Web – DK and Mark from MediaSnackers and we’ve been asking just this question as part of a project called The Web Makes Me Feel (TWMMF)
TWMMF is a MediaSnackers project exploring the emotional responses to the web among 13-19 year olds in the UK. CASE Insights collaborated with MediaSnackers to analyse the data and produce a detailed report of insights from the findings.
This project came out of discussion at MediaSnackers about how all the research about Youth and the Web we often see, hear and read most of it is about usage behaviour and profiling and segmenting youth based on their technology usage and is what we already know.
13-19 year olds are often called digital natives, super-communicators and mediasnackers. We know they are heavy users of mobile phones, Facebook and Bebo, they love downloading music and playing games online and we also know they are not using Twitter or reading newspapers. These insights are no thanks to the recent report by 15 year old Matthew Robson for Morgan Stanley, we’ve actually known this for a while (Oh Hum!!).
But a big question all this research is missing is: How does the Web Make You Feel?
Human beings are powered by emotion, not by reason!
Reason alone cannot make us feel anything and it’s how we feel that motivates our behaviour. Why then do we continue to treat human beings as rational consumers of the web?
Hundreds of research reports, papers and presentations scatter the web profiling and modeling economic and rational motives for web usage. Focused on how easy or useful the web is, or on complex formula and metrics profiling web behaviour, we thought we might be missing a trick.
Formulas can’t deal with human emotion. Formulas have no imagination or empathy. Formulas can’t tell you how the web makes me feel?
In reality, our experiences are shaped by deep feelings and emotions – feelings of joy, fear, love, hope, fantasy, happiness and sometimes even a little magic. Every person we deal with is an emotional human being and yet we continue to treat them like: Numbers. Targets. Statistics.
When faced with complex or inadequate information we fall back on a hybrid approach in which reason and emotion become intertwined. However when they are in conflict, emotion wins every time. The neurologist Donald Calne puts it brilliantly:
‘The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.’
So How Do Youth Feel?
So coupled with over 1000 postcards, we targeted youth across the UK to tell us in their own words, one word to be exact: The Web Makes Me Feel …. and then in a few more words to explain: Becuase …
Over 431 postcards were returned and analysed, identifying over 143 emotions and over 65 reason why the web made them feel that way.
The top 10 emotions expressed by 13-19 year olds were: Happy. Connected. Good. Excited. Free. Entertained. Bored. Interested. Sociable. Independent. Overall youth found the web made them feel positive, however as they got older, around the ages of 17-19, youth reported significantly more negative emotions.
Yesterday, 15th July 2009 at NESTA in London we launched the website and report. To read more about the insights from the project and how the data was collected and analysed, download the detailed The Web Makes Me Feel Report.
Maybe this will start you thinking more about: How does the web make you feel?