Pre-Thesis Week 9: Initial Interview

Dazhen Yang
3 min readNov 15, 2021

Through excercises on the class, I became more clear about my thesis topic. First, the main four stakeholders that involve in the negative feelings caused by social media are young users, their parents, government who wish to publish laws or rules to protect young people, and social media companies. Thus, I would interview these stakeholders to collect various respect.

I also enjoyed the writing exercise. To fill out a table across barriers and principals was helpful to record obstacles in this research stage and to think of possible solutions. Though I did not be able to finish the writing during the on-class exercise time, I revised some barriers and possible solutions after this week’s interviews, aiming to test my designed questions and to improve them.

While writing these, I thought my initial idea for the thesis project was to design a video game, and games might be impossible to tackle with practical problems. However, some games do have positive effects on players’ mental health by great design of games’ stories and aethetics. Therefore, I might focus on cases and scenes of negative feelings on social media in my research, to prepare for designing mechanics and characters. Under the stakeholder map, I drew some scenes related to Fomo, which came to my mind while thinking about stakeholders.

On-class exercise

This week, I interviewed three people with questions prepared before. All of the interviewers age 24. Some of their answers are quite different, and it expose some flaws in my design of interview or survey questions.

Two people directly answered that they thought Weibo were the social media platform that cause worse mental health problems than Wechat. Both the interviewees have experienced cyberbully. Since cyberbully is not in my research scale, I did not continue the topic. When talked about Fomo and social comparison on Wechat, I found that this kind of question are difficult for the interviewers to answer the true feeling, due to self-esteem or other reasons, for social comparison is regarded as bad quality of a person. To solve this barrier, I would refer to No More FoMo: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression by Melissa, Courtney and Jordyn to revise the way of asking about social comparison and Fomo. That is, to dismantle the direct word into specific scenes, such like:

  1. I get anxious when I don’t know what my friends are up to.
  2. Sometimes, I wonder if I spend too much time keeping up with what is going on.
  3. I fear others have more rewarding experiences than me.
  4. I hope to get more ‘likes’ under my posts.
  5. If I decide one afternoon that I would like to go to a movie that evening, I could easily find someone to go with me.

Interviewers or survey participants could answer or choose the extent to which they apply to these situations.

Besides this, I collected interesting answers by asking them to send emojis to convey their emotions when overusing social media or control time spent on SNS. Some emojis surprised me. For example, interviewer S, sent me �(a smile with bead of sweat on the canthus) to present her feeling as she experienced cyberbully. I also asked why she did not send emotion icons representing angry or sad. Her answer was that the only feeling that time was speechless.

All in all, I would revise my research questions to get more real answers and cases. Since I found collecting emojis were an interesting way, and it help me to form scenes, I would continue this method in the following interviews. Lastly, new questions should be written to interview the other three stakeholders.