The Phenomenology of Opinion Expression on Social Media: Culture and Human Functioning

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Robin, Thompson
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Social media provides people with an incredible opportunity to express their opinions on an array of important, meaningful life topics. In turn, they experience a wide variety of opinions from other people to which they react and respond accordingly. However, there is mixed consensus in the literature about the nature of social media in relation to how people psychologically handle the multitude of opinions expressed there about personal and relevant topics. Additionally, most of the literature about social media does not include Canada. Therefore, this study is a phenomenological exploration on the experience of opinion expression on social media for young adults in Canada and how it impacts their human functioning – that is, their cognitions, emotions, and behaviours. With much of the literature concentrating on opinion expression about politics, this study focuses on the topic of culture – one that is inextricably fundamental to human nature and inspires a great deal of contention. Using interviews, I analyzed eight participants' responses for themes and meanings about their experiences with opinion expression about culture through their social media platforms, then extracted and expounded on the essence of their experiences in connection to the overall human experience. I found personality/personal values, positive and negative opinions from other people, agreement and disagreement with such opinions, respect for culture and humanity, fostering interpersonal connections, and gender to all inform participants' experience with opinion expression about culture on social media. I also make recommendations for clinical practice and future research to strengthen the findings of this study.
phenomenology , human functioning , social media , opinion expression , culture
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess