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Truly social on social media?

Social media is a gift and a curse.

Human psychological traits, like the need for belonging and curiosity have made digital networks an important way of our interaction. We are now, more than ever, involved in global events, discourses and even have the power to have impact on politics, just by participating and engaging on social media. We get motivated to interact with like-minded people, to become active and to learn from a multitude of people all around the planet. We even get emotional and shape our own moral compass and identity according to the information we obtain from social media.

This system came up with its own celebrities, which have quite some effect on habits, education, decision-making and evolution of whole generations of people of all ages. We are just one tap away from people, who truly inspire us. We can watch them daily, unlimited and really get to know their lifestyle. But we don´t know them, we maybe never will. Some of them we might get attached to, as they actually interact with us or share private insights. But is this really social? The problem is paradox. Young people explore connectedness and loneliness at the same time while engaging on social media [1]. It is crazy, as we compare ourselves over the expectations we have when interacting, and the actual outcome of the event. It can be delightful or devastating, just because people react or simply don´t.

We all are more or less involved in some social media platforms. Some use it for work, some stay in touch with friends and family, some express themselves and so forth. It is interesting , that seldom people show all aspects of their life. It isn´t wanted, it takes too much time, and it is kind of natural behavior that we protect our privacy. This combined with the original intention leads to a very distinct way of interacting on online networks. I do not only mean that influencers only show happy faces and strong bodies. I also mean that even people I actually know, more or less, seem like they want to show off, or that they are super kind in real life, and on social media they seem rough. Especially if I do not know the person well, it gets hard to distinguish, which self is the true representation of that person.

I guess we all face the confusion. We forget, that social media is a good way to extend your own circle, but it is not always what it seems. NEVER, until you actually meet people in real life, they will really relate to you as the person you are. And by seeing their faces almost every day, we tend to forget this simple rule.

It is like watching your favorite movie and dreaming of being part of the story. Not going to happen.

The exact same applies for your favorite musicians, artists, influencers and role-models. They have an offline life; they share other stories with their beloved ones. So, if they let you close by showing more of their inside world, appreciate it and don´t be disappointed if it does not reach the level of connection you expected.

Social media and the people heavily involved in the system have developed own cultural habits. They have, over time, become equally or even more powerful than traditional media, as people prefer the easy interaction and simple news input. This must be enjoyed with great care as not all information on the internet can be measured as reliable. Also, when getting in close touch with people, we never met. These are just the tip of an iceberg full of negative aspects of social media. Cyberbullying [2], Sexual harassment [3], Misleading Guidance, Cat Fishing and Online Firestorms {4], to name a few more downsides of the system. Especially the hate, that people openly share on the internet, secured by not being really confronted with their oponent, made me shook. Things you would never say to anyones face come out easily when writing coments below someones post about anything.

However, there are movements promoting social justice, environmental protection and self-fulfillment. This kind of activism makes social media worthy of exploring and this is how it built up its entitlement.

In conclusion, we start at the beginning of this text. Social media is a gift and a curse at the same time. It’s up to us humans to create the best and most productive outcome of personal experience on digital exchange platforms. Maybe by starting to write someone you haven’t met in a while, you used to liked a lot.


1. Allen, K. A., Ryan, T., Gray, D. L., McInerney, D. M. & Waters, L. Social media use and social connectedness in adolescents: The positives and the potential pitfalls. Aust. Educ. Dev. Psychol. 31, 18–31 (2014).

2. Lowry, P. B., Zhang, J., Wang, C., & Siponen, M. (2016). Why do adults engage in cyberbullying on social media? An integration of online disinhibition and deindividuation effects with the social structure and social learning model. Information Systems Research, 27(4), 962-986.

3. Megarry, J. (2014, November). Online incivility or sexual harassment? Conceptualising women's experiences in the digital age. In Women's Studies International Forum (Vol. 47, pp. 46-55). Pergamon.

4. Pfeffer, J., Zorbach, T., & Carley, K. M. (2014). Understanding online firestorms: Negative word-of-mouth dynamics in social media networks. Journal of Marketing Communications, 20(1-2), 117-128.


© Cover image : Unsplash

© First image : Unsplash

© Second image : Chopra Center via Instagram

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