In the world of social media, people are developing online social behaviours such as extrovertism, Fear of missing out (FOMO) and obsession. If we explore an event such as Valentine’s Day, we can assess the impact on social behaviour and the response from other social media users. In this post I asked a selection of people to respond with their thoughts on Valentine’s messages on Facebook. The conversation was a real eye-opener.
Mairead ‘I don’t mind the first few, but when they just keep coming and begin to sound repetitive then I get annoyed….some people are into public shows of affection.’
Lorna ‘I don’t even like to see couple chatting on twitter and facebook. I kinda feel, aren’t you both at oposite ends of the sofa anyway?? and if you are apart, just text! As you can probably gather, while I do share a lot of stuff online, I wouldn’t be posting a Valentine’s message publicly.’
CGOnline ‘It’s a bit like listening in on a personal discussion isn’t it? Makes you wonder if we’re losing the ability to be social face to face.’ @Mairead That’s interesting that you mention the public show of affection, as if that’s the case, it suggests the gesture is less about the person and more about the observers.
Mairead ‘Not exactly, it’s about validation and proof of it which is where the observers come in’
CGOnline ’That’s something we’ve noticed – social has caused people to feel that an action MUST be public to be counted. The nature of visibility has created inequality online with an emphasis on FOMO (Fear of missing out/or not taking part). Valentine’s, Shrove Tues, Christmas are all events that people socially engage in to be part of the social community – it’s addictive, like buying the latest TV or game.’
Mairead ‘It’s also something I don’t feel the need to do publicly. I remember being at a 21st years ago, well before FB or SM and a guy attending it with us proposed to his girlfriend after the cake roll out. She said no. They were staying with me that night and when I asked her why she’d turned him down she said it was because she’d already told him never to propose to her in public as she didn’t like public displays of affection.’
Sean ‘At first analysis I would say — whatever floats the poster’s boat. I expect to come across a fair amount of dross online; and what’s a waste of space to one person is deep and meaningful to another. So, like it or move on; except if it is offensive for some reason.
.. At second analysis – what I believe resonates with people is their perception either of a) the poster’s intent or b) the likely response/effect on the object of their affection. If I think someone is genuine, I will probably be engaged. If I think someone will be touched/moved/blown away, I will be engaged. If it’s not real, I wont be engaged. And, I think to a large extent that extends across the board with social media. If we use it just to communicate or express ourselves, it is what it is – generally pretty wonderful. If we try to use it to manipulate or impress, it fails. 3rd analysis — I’m totally with Mairead and Lorna on the value of both privacy and personal contact. I dont think there should be “shoulds”, so to speak — life/culture is changing; but I would hate us (ie people) to lose sight of the value of just time together. Explicitly without social media, just people connecting for real.’
In many ways the role of social works as a way of channeling our personality and natural tendencies. But due to the crowd effect, are social platforms amplifying our negative tendancies? Have our behaviours changed because of social media and should we as people share all of our ‘private’ thoughts/feelings/views in public….all the time? – What are your thoughts?
Special thanks to Mairead Kelly, Sean O’sullivan and Lorna Sixsmith for their contributions.