In the movie, “The Social Network”, Eduardo Saverin (played by actor Andrew Garfield) says:
“See, in a world where social structure was everything, that was the thing.”
The character was talking about how Facebook was the big deal. Have you ever wondered why do we use social media and why people:
- Are crazy about social media sites like Facebook or Twitter?
- Check for updates regularly on social media?
- Posts their selfies, trip photos or updates on social media?
- Add someone they have never met before as friend on social media?
These questions might seem disconnected or unrelated but they all stem from the very basic characteristic of humans and that is to connect with others or build social networks. We all would have heard about humans being social animal either sometime in our lives. It is this emotional need of the humans to live or stay in groups which leads to the human desire to be recognized or appreciated or sought by others. That’s why today social media have become an indispensable part of our lives. Still there are lot of people who are not on social media sites but with time and access to cheaper and better technology that group of people will slowly and steadily become users of social media. That said still answer to the question about why we use social media remains incomplete.
We use social media to not just connect with others but to express ourselves and to be someone on social media which we possibly can’t in real life. Social media profile can be alter ego for some of us. We can live the dream of being the coolest and most sought after guy on social media but in reality can be geeks or shy individuals. What we get us users is a wonderful platform through which we can let go of our fears, apprehensions and prejudices, and, be someone that we always wanted to be. Apart from the platform aspect of social media, there are other facets of it as well. We are able to connect to our friends, no matter wherever they may be, in few keystrokes and we can share our emotions, photos and latest happenings in our lives with them. People can also find their friends from primary schools or high school or undergraduate days with whom they had no interactions in years, provided they are using social media too.
Therefore, we can see social media is not just a virtual medium but a world in its own where people meet and interact with their near and dear ones as well long search for lost friends and new friends. People are able to share their joys and sorrows with others and stay updated about happenings in the world. No doubt that there are concerns and issues related to social media e.g. security, privacy, etc. but it is a powerful tool which if used discreetly and sensibly can help us as well as nurture us. As users onus is on us as to how we are going to use social media. Let’s use it for the benefit of society not to ruin society.
Just to add, if I may, to what Nishant has discussed above, one can also rely on the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to understand the reason for using social media.
At a basic level, social media fulfills our “Need for Belongingness”, by enabling us to connect with our near and dear ones. As can be observed on any social media site, a major part of “connecting” involves sharing/posting of photographs. Like it’s said – a photograph speaks a thousand words. A photograph conveys better and it’s also easier both on the part of the conveyer and the receiver, than to write and read long descriptions.
Social media also fulfills our “Esteem” needs. By a few clicks of the camera, and posting of the photographs on the social media sites, we can declare to the world that we have arrived. The rising number of photo posts of holiday trips, new cars, new house, parties and many more, are a fitting testimony to this. Add to that, the numerous “likes” and “comments” on those photographs, and its sure to boost our sense of achievement.
Thus social media, helps in fulfilling our Belongingness and Esteem needs and that too very conveniently with just a few clicks and some words.
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