February 6, 2013
One word can describe the power of Social Media,
There is a significant amount of work now available on the psychology of Social Media and why it has become the phenomena that it is. There are marketing steps and psychological plays to determine why we act or react the way we do. Down to case studies of corporate engagement. From the reading and research I have done, I came across what I think is the most acute explanation of the phenomena in the most unlikely but obvious place.
I am currently reading Hold On To Your Kids by Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Gabor Mate, This is a fascinating book on what Neufeld refers to a peer orientation, that explains the absolute need for people, children in particular, to be orientated and the post WW II increasing cultural problem we are encountering of children attaching to their peers and not their parents.
In reading this book it became obvious why social media has taken off. In one degree or another it satisfies the six core ways we attach as humans. Reading through and understanding these six types of attachment, one can’t help but identify oneself in them and come to realize how we use social media to satisfy them.
It profoundly struck me that if, as an adult, I use social media to quench my own attachment need, how dangerous and frankly addictive social media would be to a young and developing mind. Of all the social media reading I have done the most revealing and insightful realizations have come from this book, though it has no reference to Social Media whatsoever.
The six ways we attach and how social media plays into it:
Senses – Physical proximity is the first chosen way of attaching. You might be asking that if this is the first way then why is social media so prevalent. Two specific reasons; one, social media is so rich and growing richer than it facilitates the other five ways to attach that in combination are arguably equal to or greater than physical proximity. Second, is in the absence of physical proximity at any given moment having others modes that are easier ways of attaching are that much more accentuated. The pervasiveness of Social Media provides previously unheard of access to local communities that otherwise we as individuals would not have known about or had access to.
Sameness – People and children in particular seek to be like those they feel closest to. The intimacy and transparency available for people to identify with each other is unprecedented. I know where people in my social group are going, what they are doing, and thinking at any given time. Celebrity identification in this manner is at an almost unimaginable level but what it does do is allow people to identify with each other, right or wrong.
Belonging and Loyalty – Laying claim to what group you belong and then defending it is prevalent in Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and even the explosion of charity causes is all part of this attachment acceleration of belonging and loyalty.
Significance – Feeling that we matter to someone. How many Facebook “likes”
and comments we get or how many mentions or re-tweets. The more our peer groups react to our thoughts and actions the more it solidifies our social significance.
Feeling – The expression of feelings through media like video in particular is evidenced by the explosive growth of video sharing sites and tools like smartphones that make it very easy to capture, share and/or experience a moment and essence of a situation. Also key is seeing the reaction of others via comments, blogs, video comments, tweets, etc.
Being Known – How many friends, followers or connections do you have and what are your search engine rankings and Klout. Acceptance is a powerful notion in almost every culture. The desire to be a member of a peer group, no matter how large or small always tends to be present in some small manner of our thinking, and social media is no different. We want to be perceived as knowledgeable and relevant, and the constant flow of social media updates support this notion.
The following infographic is supportive and interesting as related to Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) which it seems is tied to peer orientation and attachment.