Is Instagram Depressing Ed Sheeran?

Anyone who follows this blog will know I am quite fond of Ed Sheeran. He seems a good singer, nice fella and above all has been the inspiration for a few of my posts on this site. It just so happens that I recently wrote an article for RTE Brainstorm which slightly relates to him. So once again the English ginger singer will feature in this week’s post.

Although recently Sheeran has arguably become a victim of his own success and received a lot of negative press as a result of being found everywhere from the radio to ketchup commercials, it wasn’t that long ago that the singer took a year long break from his phone and all social media activity. He discusses his decision to quit social media and just live life in an interview available here.

Upon re-watching this interview I thought that this story would be the perfect way to link Sheeran to a recent piece of research of mine on life satisfaction. For people who don’t know, I am a PhD student in University College Cork in Ireland and while my primary area of research is in small business economics I also have an interest in life satisfaction research.

I was recently exercising this interest and found that the effect of daily social network use appears to be more negative in more economically developed countries and less negative or even positive in less economically developed countries. For example, the effect of daily social network use on levels of individual life satisfaction in Ireland and Germany is negative, but the effect turns positive in Bulgaria and Romania. So, it appears that the negative effects of social network use are a privilege of the rich.

Which would be bad news for Ed Sheeran seeing as Forbes estimated his 2019 net worth at $110,000,000. Now it isn’t necessarily that because people have money that social media use is bad for their level of satisfaction. The issue is probably that  in less developed countries individuals may derive more benefit from frequent social network use because they may have a poorer initial level of quality in their social environment due to issues like bad (or no) working environment and/or poor community infrastructure and frequent social network use helps improve this situation which increases their level of life satisfaction.

Whereas in individuals which live in economically developed countries already have a higher initial level of quality in their social environment. As a result, the positive effect which frequent social network use can have on them is minimised and they are more vulnerable to the negative effects associated with the activity like jealousy and social exclusion. In Sheeran’s case this could be the abuse he suffers in the comments section of his Instagram account like so many other celebrities.

By Daragh O’Leary

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