Why has social media become so popular?
In today’s world, it is hard to imagine a world without social media. And while the platforms of the major providers are less than 2 decades old, we have come to a rather skewed perception that social media always was and always will be. But what has caused the growth of social media? Is there something which drives it forward, and if so is this an indicator to future growth or collapse? Whee it is evident that social media is growing, many do not take the time to ponder why. Therefore, we have done so.
The Communication Factor
Anthony Tornambe – Social media, at its core is about communication with various parties. True, this means that we have the label of friends and family members in the groups that we talk to, but it is not the who but the ability to contact that person that is appealing. According to CIO statistics nearly 31.25 million messages are sent every minute. Let that sink in a bit. That is 45 billion messages sent a day, or 6 for every person on the planet. And while the numbers for snail mail are at 141 billion per year, according to statistic brain’s 2014 report, there is a steady decline (nearly 10 billion a year so one could figure the numbers to be around 100 billion for 2017).
Since communication is nearly instantaneous with social media, there is a drawing to the use of it. The use of messaging and social media for communication allows for the distance barrier to be breeched and for loved ones around the world to connect, without the need to wait for a stamped letter.
The information and entertainment element
Humans love to be entertained. Whether we are watching the latest video of a kitten playing the piano, or reading the most recent twitter post from President Donald Trump, we love our social media as it plays to our need for entertainment and something to do. Social media has grown substantially in the past decade as technology has become more about entertainment and delivering cutting edge features. Think about the Virtual and Augmented reality apps and attachments for smartphones and other devices. Look at the social media which is integrated into the gaming community. Clearly, the tie between entertainment and the social media growth is seen.
In an article by the Washington post, it was shown that more younger audiences are using social media as their avenue to receive news. This is a double edged sword for the growth of social media. On the one hand, you have politicians (from both sides of the aisle) using the media to deliver propaganda and skewed politics to their potential voters. Secondly, you have reports for those who have no reporting experience delivering messages to the masses. However, on the other hand you have the availability to alert millions of disaster, to have major networks connect with viewers who would otherwise not engage in the news, and make more socially consciences persons.
The narcissistic fuel for addiction
At the core of social media, is narcissism. Call it what you will, but the premise of a social network is to have you build a profile like Anthony Tornambe, for you to build up your friends, and for you to get comments, shares, likes, and such. It is all about you. Granted information is shared about others, but only with your comments and likes and dislikes to the post or comment. The popular social media platforms know this. It is a marketing technique that has been used since the internet was invented. Give the customer something which strokes their necessity to be loved and liked, and it will prosper. The reward system of various achievements, tasks, and building up of friends, not only fuels the narcissism in us, but also is (knowingly) used by Social Media developers to hijack the brain and cause addiction.
Are you not convinced? Let us look at some of the key break throughs in social media:
- The Selfie Stick
- Your life in photos
- The reverse camera on smartphones
- Achievement badges
Forbes as well as Phycology today state that social media narcissism makes connections with people difficult. Real connections, not social connections. Additionally due to the narcissistic features of Social Media, a person grows addicted to the platform. So long as you are the center of attention, then you are willing to use it. National Geographic in their September 2017 issue The Science of Addiction stated that “in a sense, addiction is a pathological form of learning”. In other words, social media will continue to grow so long as the person becomes unaware that they are addicted. Is social media bad? Not necessarily, there are good uses for which it can be used. Will it continue to grow? Undoubtedly it will as technology, narcissism, and the devices to cater to our need for these two elements are not apt to disappear any time soon.