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We May Underestimate The Power of Social Media (But Business Can Work within Its Constraints)

We May Underestimate The Power of Social Media (But Business Can Work within Its Constraints)

by Mark Pagel

Royal Society and Professor of Evolutionary Biology at University of Reading in the UK.

Jun 07, 2023


Writing in the 1740s, Voltaire declared “Three things exercise a constant influence over the minds of men, climate, government and religion.”1 About two decades later he returned to this line of thought and added a fourth “thing” — increases in population size. 

We can imagine that were Voltaire writing now, he might have included a fifth — the internet, or more specifically, social media. The average social media user spends around 2-3 hours per day on platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, SnapChat and WhatsApp. This figure increases to 4-5 hours per day for many younger users,2 comparable to the time that we spend with partners and co-workers.3 Statistics such as these often provoke gloomy protests from parents and teachers that all this time viewing social media could be better spent with friends, in physical activities, or learning. 

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