People use social media a lot today. And I mean A LOT. I’m constantly checking my Twitter account, wondering what status messages have changed on FB… wondering if my friends put up new pictures.
It’s never-ending. Why do I do this? Why do WE as people do this?
People do it because they want to keep in touch with their friends and see what everyone is doing- and it’s great for that. It’s good for family and friends that are far away from one another and it’s also good for people who want to keep up with their favorite stores and shops on various social networks to find deals and discounts.
Out of all of these benefits though, I’m really interested in the psychology side of social media. The majority of society doesn’t really appear to think about the psychological aspect behind what they do- they (like myself) just do things that feel and seem right or enjoyable to them.
For sake of completeness, however, there are traditional psychological effects to social media that people should consider.
- Social media creates a group identity. People link up with others who like the same kinds of things, and they become part of social groups through getting to know friends of friends. They feel as though they belong, because they have something to get involved with and talk to others about.
- When people deal with social media, they may be led to believe that they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and they may also enjoy the aspect of being ‘tech savvy’ and attached to something that everyone is talking about.
- Groupthink is part of social media, as well. People start to think in a collective manner when they get together on social media sites. One person gets information and tells others, and those people start to think along the same lines as the original person. That’s both good and bad, of course, depending on the topic in question.
- People just like to talk to others. Even if you don’t leave your house very much or you’re not a particularly friendly person, it’s still nice to be able to talk to people when you want to. With social media, you can talk to people when you feel like it. You can just avoid them when you’re not up to chatting. It’s one of the best ways for people to explore their world if they’re homebound or have issues that prevent them from really getting out and mingling.
- Being part of a community is healthy, both physically and mentally. Even if your community is online instead of out in the world, it’s still important. Talking to people and getting the information you need for anything you may want to do can help keep you strong.
No matter what you use social media for, it’s very likely that you’re interested in and involved with the group dynamics of it in some way; this is becoming so noticeable that there are even courses dedicated to media psychology as well as plenty of sites analyzing this trend.
Whether you just talk to family members and a few close friends, or you expand your circle of people to include a lot of others, social media can help you in many different ways- it also helps to keep you mentally strong and give you new ideas for ways to look at and think about the world, so you can continue to grow and develop as a person.