What makes social media so appealing? We know that social networks are a way of connecting with others by creating a profile, and interacting and sharing information with others. At some level, social media can be seen as appealing to our narcissistic side. Think of celebrities posting pictures of themselves in their underwear. But it isn’t just celebrities. Many people post provocative shots on social media. Perhaps as validation and seeing how many likes they can get.
It doesn’t just have to be provocative posts. Any post can have the danger of being used as self-validation. If you post something, and nobody comments or reacts right away, it is easy to think “My joke wasn’t as funny or clever as I thought.” For some people, this can have a negative effect on their well-being. However, it is a cycle that is easy to get caught up in. I’ve seen many people dramatically announce that they are leaving Facebook…only to eventually return.
For most people, social media is a fun way to get caught up with others. I joined Facebook 11 years ago. Before that, when communicating with friends that I lived far away from, we would email each other. But as more and more of my friends joined Facebook, emails become less common and people stopped writing. But with Facebook, you could always see what your friends are up to. Now there are so many social networking apps, it almost takes more work than 10 years ago.
When it comes to communicating with friends, I prefer Facebook messaging. It is so easy to create groups, and you can see when someone has read the message. It is easy to plan get-togethers when you don’t want to create an event for something. My roommates and I also use this as a way to communicate.
As for the future, it seems like the various types of social media are becoming more and more similar. Facebook now offers many features that Instagram has, and we see overlaps with many of the social networking sites and apps. I do think that people will always love video, so I don’t think that will change. But as the users get younger and everyone wants things even more instantaneously, it will be interesting to see what changes in 5 years, or even 1 year from now.