What and why on social media, the tip of an iceberg
I felt often overwhelmed and lost on social media as I could find uncomfortable facts about our new lifestyle and awkward social behaviors. I've repetitively deactivated and activated my social media accounts several times as well whenever I found myself psychologically feeling uncomfortable and socially reluctant to showing pieces of my life and unwillingly or willingly checking others' too. Back in 2014 summer, with the real booming of social media world, I started bombarding with questions myself
'What and why am I doing these activities on Facebook and Instagram? Are these all true? are these people true? what I see and listen to is true? what are the impacts that we are sharing on this new platform, social media?'. I think I was looking for the root and authenticity on the sensational transition of our new lifestyle.
I decided to open this dialogue with random young people like me on streets and also through my Facebook survey in order to collect tangible data. Interestingly, the more I built conversations with people, the deeper this research led me to the unexpected ocean of ourselves in areas of psychology, sociology and anthropology. And I roughly ended up suming my findings as three human's fundamental needs in modern society:
Needs for Survival
Work work work, network...
Social media has settled down as an amazing method for all business people regardless their business scale and type. Almost all business entities have their own social media channels because it requires mostly zero money of marketing budget but brings out effective and lucrative result by word-of-mouth as well as viral marketing. Surviving game has been harder and harsher for general people with the emergence of mass media, mass production/ consumption, and giant corporations then this social media brought open chances to all of us and fosters ‘individualization’ world widely that eventually spurs individuals or organizations want to be more unique and more special to win in this business game. Promotion, sales, marketing, advertisement, network, customer services, R&D, recruitment, etc before any of intentions or strategies under business purpose, you don't exist without social media today.
Needs for Emotional Satisfaction
Staying in touch with personal social circles seem very important based on the interview with 20 random young people in Vancouver and survey through Facebook. Their most common answer for the main purpose of using social media is to tell friends and families about their current life and up-to-date stories and also to feel that they still belong to old and new social groups even if they are away from home. Montserrat Guibernau explains how important for human beings to have feeling of belongingness since it encourages an emotional attachment by offering a familiar space that individuals share common interests, values and principles. It helps individuals to set self-identity which melt into the new ‘we-identity’ with their groups through socialization. In other words, to be an individual psychologically we should belong to certain groups and it identifies our individuality as the complementary process.
Meanwhile, there are more sensitive social media users who seek different sort of emotional satisfaction that can be achieved by becoming an online ‘superstar’ and tend to consider others’ judgment and popularity quite significantly. The desire to be famous seems to have replaced the drives for power and wealth like celebrities has resulted from American media, dramas and reality shows typically. Even young people take a celebrities’ bad behavior as inspiration or license to act out in similar ways. Broadcasting themselves like superstars is a great example of those cases creating an artfully crafted image of oneself, photos, videos and words; it actually feeds the narcissism of adolescents and adults and get them feel gratified, glamorous, important and even powerful. They are trying to meet their expectation by identifying oneself as a cool and hot star. It shows how much we are using social media for emotional reasons more than any other factors.
Needs for Selfness
According to Maslow’s theory of personality, personality is one of a developmental process that will progress if not stopped, and it has basically five levels or stages of development. On the last stage, 'self-actualization' is departmentalized into 16 points that normally most people are in failure of self-actualizing perfectly. One of the points is ‘interpersonal relations’ meaning that tending to find other self-actualizing people and having deep ties with them. That is a tendency to attract admirers without really wanting to. 70% of interview participants say that they follow certain groups of people to get inspired and to collect more information in their interests. Potentially, following own interesting people is great process of ‘interpersonal relations’ to find real ego. This human being’s simple desire to discover and express as an independent and distinguished individual from others may encourage us to devote more times and energy in writing and posting something representative of us on social media world.
John Rowan, English author and psychotherapist, defines that a person’s personality is not likely to determine so much what he does, but rather the way he does it. We have to be accustomed with observing and figuring roots under the surface. Contradictory life between social media and reality leads us to fail on searching true ego. The online world should be an effective method of making life flourish and meaningful by not determining the way of living our real life. In psychological interpretation, egotists are unshakable with their very sturdy self-importance but a real narcissist is dissociated from his or her true self by feeling haunted from chronic feelings of loneliness, emptiness and self-loathing. The surface of our behavior on social media is definitely a piece of a humongous iceberg under the ocean. Rather it's good or bad, all we need to know is how to be as balanced as possible in any of our actions and life aspects. Well.... time to go on twitter and facebook again to check my status and other postings ;)
Photos are not associated with this blog writing, more photos of 'Portrait in Sunday' are available at https://www.facebook.com/pg/ribbonajphoto/photos/?tab=album&album_id=475250005949402
This research and interview was for academic purpose under the Anthropology course with Dr. Louisa Cameron and contents are partly extracted from the full original paper.