You know that amazing feeling you get when you send out an angry tweet about a sexist commercial you just watched? It turns out that the high you get isn't in your head, it's actually an emotional release that's common to many women who take to social media to call out misogyny when they see it. As it turns out, a tweet a day may just keep the doctor (and your $200-an-hour psychologist) away.
A study by Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and published in the British Journal of Social Psychology found that women who were instructed to tweet publicly about instances of sexism reported higher levels of psychological well-being than a control group that were encouraged to voice their outrage privately. It turns out that a public rant, even if it's under 140 characters, is a good way to stay sane. Tweeting — cheaper than therapy!
Researchers concluded that the boost in well-being in the women who tweeted was due to the fact that they were voicing their opinions and that contribution added meaning to their lives. "Public tweeters showed decreasing negative affect and increasing psychological well-being, suggesting tweeting about sexism may serve as a collective action that can enhance women's well-being," the researchers said.
This study comes at the heels of other research showing that exposure to Ryan Gosling memes makes men more likely to identify with social and radical forms of feminism. Apparently, all that time women are spending online is pretty productive. Can someone tell my mom?
Linzi Williamson and Sarah Sangster from the University of Saskatchewan told Mic that they didn't expect the memes to have such a huge influence on men's attitudes toward feminism. That level of impact was so far unprecendeted in the media they researched.
"There was nothing in the past literature to guide us," the women said. "As far as we could tell, there was no reproduction of this trend that impacted men." Perhaps social media is the change we were all waiting for.
Given that almost single social media platform is dominated by women, and that female users have achieved drastic results as result of digital campaigns, it makes sense that female users feel empowered by them. Whether it's the chairman of Lululemon stepping down after women trolled him for his comments about women's bodies or the sudden shift in Super Bowl ads, feminist activism isn't just fun, it actually works.
Social media doesn't just give women an outlet to express themselves, it also makes them feel less helpless in the face of inequality and gives them the tools to change the world. So next time someone gives you a snarky comment for spending too much time on social media, you can tell them that you would love to give them some attention right now, but you're sort of too busy changing the world, but that you'll BRB.