Princeton Study Says Social Media Like an Infectious Disease


 Lori Lothian thinks she’s caught the social media fever and wonders if there is a cure.

I have to admit it. Sometimes I feel almost feverish when it comes to the time I spend professionally on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Google +  and more. As a magazine editor, I use these media tools to promote articles in the hopes of triggering the next big viral hit that keeps the magazine I work at growing and of course, makes our writers happy.

And even as I am passionate about having the Good Men Project “conversation no one else is having” about manhood in the 21st century, feeding the content beast sometimes it feels like a factory job, where I am relentlessly shoving written words into a conveyer belt called the internet.

But now, thanks to super geeks in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, I know I’m not feeding a machine as much as I’ve contracted a bad case of social media infection.  By my asssessment, I’m in the delerium phase, characterized by obsessive tweeting and non-stop FB sharing. (I accidentally discovered this interesting news about the Princeton report here late last night while googling “seasonal flu” and symptoms).

Comparing Facebook to an “idea” and using disease models, authors of the study state that “Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models.”

The study picked on Facebook, going so far as to predict the demise of Facebook by 2017, because just like any infectious disease, it will run its course as people become immune (read bored). In fact, here’s the old warning graph (insert ominous soundtrack from Jaws, da dum, da dum…). And yes, that’s the extinct creature called MySpace to which they are comparing Facebook.

Screen shot 2014-01-22 at 11.07.27 AM

Even as Facebook might soon go the way of the MySpace dinosaur, what is clear to me is there will always be the “next big thing” (that Facebook will probably own) that will spread like a global pandemic, creating even more fevered activity by editors and writers to keep ahead of the online publishing game.

I remember New York City, 1980’s, when I worked there as a magazine editor with shoulder pads and big hair. Back then, you actually had to do this to get your message out and for readers to find you:


As I ponder the demise of Facebook (a la waning infectious disease model), I realize as an early adopter of Facebook I am likely running a deathly high temperature—it’s been five or more years of liking, sharing, PMing and splattering my life all over my, umm, 4000 plus “friends” FB feeds.

I wrote once about quitting cold turkey (The 5 Unexpected Benefits of a 30-Day Exile from Facebook) but let’s face it (pun intended) it took FB kicking me off to bring the fever down to something resembling real life—walks in the woods, yoga, reading books, tea with friends.

So rather than wait for Facebook to flop in 2017, I’m going to find a cure right now. I think it might look like this:




Photos: Flickr/Courtney Carmody , Pink Moose, Author in Bali


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About Lori Ann Lothian

Lori Ann Lothian is a sexy daring writer who challenges assumptions about love, sex and relationships in her columns at Huffington Post and elephant Journal and in feature articles at the Good Men Project, Origin Magazine, Yoganonymous, Better After 50 and more. Former editor of the relationship section of elephant Journal, she is now a senior editor at the Good Men Project. Follow her on Twitter andGoogle. Stay informed, sign up for Lori’s mailing list here.


  1. I feel you. At the same time I also love social media, but I am going to work at checking it a little less often.

  2. Excellent metaphor. I think I am finally healing from the social media bug too. One couldn’t blame me for coming down with this social disease. It was too seductive, instantly gratifying and self satisfying. Never before has information, love, art, joy and friends been a click away. I miss nature, I miss my quiet brain. Using a prescription of exercise, walking the dog and yoga. Also, a trip to Bali wouldn’t hurt. ( beautiful pic of author and beach)

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