By: WILL LANXTON, EARTH & ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES
“Social Media may be a relatively recent technological phenomenon, but the behavioral drivers that explain why and how the various platforms are used are actually old, and many experts argue, manifestations of human needs such as collective consciousness and individualism. E-mail is made of people, Twitter is people, and Facebook is people. Therefore, understanding how and why people behave the way that they do must be central to any analysis of social media and
other digital tools (Schaefer, “Drivers of Social Media”).”
I joined Facebook on December 28, 2007. I joined Twitter on August 3, 2010. I joined reluctantly,
and remain reluctant about continuing on them because, quite frankly, I think they’re stupid. They’re absolute time-wasters. I have literally spent months of my life on social media websites.
What are the effects? I find I’m less productive, my attention span has become decreasingly efficient, and (I often feel) I have a diminished IQ from scrolling through pointless post after
pointless post. So why have I stayed on Facebook for five years and Twitter for two? There must be something forcing the denial of my own common sense. Using social media must somehow gratify me in a way that I’ve been programmed to be
Paul Fennemore, a Managing Partner at Viapoint, contends that every social media strategist needs to consider six aspects of human behavior if they are to understand the drivers of social media (Schaefer, “The six elements of human behavior that drive social media”). I will
speak on three of them (as defined below) due to their relevance to my own experience,
as well as put forth two of my own and relate all of it back to the opening statement.
- Altruism: the unselfish devotion to the welfare of others;
- Hedonism: a belief that pleasure is the main – or only — goal in life;
- Narcissism: excessive fascination with oneself.
Sometimes I tweet and post because I genuinely believe that what I have to say will benefit others
(altruism). However, sometimes I tweet and post simply because I love the sound of my own voice (narcissism). There can also be a mixture of the two: I’m so obsessed with myself (narcissism) that I want people to be benefitted from what I have to say (altruism) so that they can see me as someone who should be listened to (narcissism).
I also tweet and post because there’s a certain pleasure that comes with it (hedonism). Whenever I feel I have to get something off of my chest, tweeting it can often relieve that burden. Also, a commonality among Twitter and Facebook users (including myself) is that tweeting and
posting can often become an addiction (Nakagoshi, “Yes, you can be addicted to social media”).
I think this happens because social media sites nourish a type of hunger for community that we’re wired for (Schaefer, “Your brain is wired for Facebook (really)”). One of the reasons that I’m still on Facebook is that I have 600+ friends and I don’t keep in contact with 500+ of them. I feel that
if I “cut the cord” and get off of Facebook, I’ll be losing my only way to communicate with those hundreds of people.
Even though I’ll most likely never talk to them again, at least I know that I have the opportunity. I don’t wantto give up that “security.” Regarding Twitter, one reason that I’m on it is for
the platform that it offers the user. Back to the quote above, not only does Twitter provide a sense of collective consciousness, but it provides a way to express individualism. On Twitter, I am able to convey my opinions and share my thoughts and feelings with a group of people that is interested in me.
Twitter allows me to express myself. Granted, many users portray themselves as people they
are really not, but simply wish they were. That may be a defining reason that so many people use Twitter, because it allows users to express themselves, or whomever they would like to be.
I wholeheartedly agree with the opening statement: People don’t simply use social media because it’s the cool thing to do; people use social media because it’s compatible with the way that they behave and what they want as humans. As I’ve argued above, I believe that five of these prominent human behaviors and desires are altruism, hedonism, narcissism, security, and individualistic expression.
Nakagoshi, Kaity. "Yes, you can be addicted to social media." Businesses Grow.
Schaefer Marketing Solutions
Schaefer, Mark. "The six elements of human behavior that drive social media."
Businesses Grow. Schaefer Marketing Solutions, 21 Feb. 2012. Web. 26 Oct. 2012.
Schaefer, Mark. “Your brain is wired for Facebook (really).” Businesses Grow.
Schaefer Marketing Solutions, 27 May 2012. Web. 26 Oct. 2012.