by Jessica Stresky
Look around the room you’re in right now. The odds are that someone is doing something on their phone right in front of you. With all the ever-changing technologies and innovative devices on the market, mobile dependency is at an all time high.
Between the waves of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, it is only a matter of time before the next hot app becomes the new craze. Who would have thought that elementary kids streaming Facebook Live at recess would be considered normal? What about your grandpa playing Candy Crush at the grocery store? Whether you support this movement or think it’s ridiculous, the reality is: it’s happening. People are so fascinated with their Internet life, sometimes even more than their real life. Social media provides the opportunity for a vacation away from reality. But what really drives users to be so engulfed in this online world?
Social networking sites give users free reign to shape how others see them. People usually only post when they’re looking for positive reinforcement: they got a new haircut, they got engaged, or they traveled to the tropics over spring break and got a killer tan. The compliments start rolling in within minutes and the poster can read them all with a satisfactory smile. For some, there is nothing more enticing than seeing “460 people liked your photo” or gaining 8 followers after posting a heavily-edited and filtered selfie. These platforms allow users to make themselves appear exactly how they wish they could be in real life. People are drawn into the idea of creating a perfect image of themselves. Not taken into consideration, however, is how accurately it translates into reality.
All of your friends are on social media, and of course, give you that support and connection you desire. Alongside them, your *online friends* can do the same, as well. Social media creates a sense of community that allows users to feel like they belong to a group. We crave attention and feel much better seeing that we have 3,000 online friends instead of 100, regardless if they are genuine or spam robots. There are countless outlets for like-minded people to bond about their shared interests, whether it’s sports, music, or hobbies. All it takes is a search for a hashtag on Twitter; #PittsburghPirates for example. Type the hashtag in the search bar and you will discover a group of others already chatting about the topic. Talk about #InstantFriendship, right?!
Plain and simple: we love knowing things. We want to research more, learn more and talk more. Social media sites are filled with every kind of information you could ever want…you just have to know how to find it. Whether trying to reconnect with a friend from middle school or searching for your favorite band, social media allows each user to feel special and unique. Furthermore, we want to be the first to know information so that we can share it with everyone and have the advantage above others. Given these points, this self-fulfilling prophecy leads back to the idea of “a glorified you” and “a network of friends” to complete the circle of social media frenzy.
If you stayed in your pajamas with your cat on Saturday night and posted pictures, good for you! If you went on an exotic weekend get-away and blogged about it, good for you! The point is, social media can be as transparent or private as you’d like it to be. You are not defined by the amount of retweets you get, and slapping the X-Pro II filter on your photo will not change your true appearance. All things considered, remember that your online presence is exactly what you make it.