Author: Suzana E. Flores
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: The anecdotes in this book were fascinating but the information was both obvious enough to be boring and not obvious enough to justify the nearly complete lack of citations.
I love books about the way technology affects our lives, so I was excited to hear what psychologist Suzana Flores thought about the way Facebook can influence our mental health. After noticing that many of her clients had Facebook related complaints, Dr. Flores began interviewing people specifically about their experiences with Facebook. In Facehooked, she shares many of the stories she heard, discusses some of the problems she believes Facebook can cause, and offers some advice for fighting bad Facebook habits.
The anecdotes in Facehooked were my favorite part. It’s amazing the crazy things people do. Some of the behavior in this book is clearly Facebook-specific, such as hounding friends for “Likes”, and some could happen anyway, such as stalking an ex, but it’s all interesting. If this were simply a collection of anecdotes, I’d have loved it. Unfortunately, the author also makes wide-ranging generalizations without references to back them up. Many of the things she says sound reasonable, such as her claim that Facebook is changing our understanding of how to engage with others or her claim that a mismatch between our Facebook presentation of ourselves and our real selves will cause cognitive dissonance. They’re also things I could hear from anyone with a negative opinion of Facebook though and the predictability made this book somewhat boring.
Although the author’s claims didn’t feel novel, they were still very broad claims and they needed to be backed up by research. Sadly, in the whole book , the author references specific research approximately twice. She mentions “studies” without a citation four or five times and cites the sort of non-academic sources one could find via a quick google search another half dozen times. And that’s it in terms of references. Because of the lack of references, even though I found this book a generally enjoyable read, it let me down. I don’t pick up a nonfiction book to have an author to regurgitate common ideas on a subject without verification. Even if the author had simply presented research supporting common opinions, I would feel like I’d learned something, but the lack of sources makes me think I just wasted my time learning someone else’s opinions instead of learning the facts.
To be fair, it should be noted that what I have might be a review copy (although from my communication with the publisher, I don’t think it is). I e-mailed the publisher 9 days ago asking about references and double-checking if what I have is a review copy. I’ll update my review if I hear anything back. As is, I’m left with the impression that this is a particularly poor example of pop science. If you want to learn about social media, I’d recommend instead picking up the extremely interesting and well-researched It’s Complicated by Danah Boyd.