The gym selfie, the ambitious travel shot, the creative display, the odd-looking status, the profile quotes, the political rant — every day, millions of people post their status messages on the Facebook. Of late, there’s a little that we don’t share online. Some users have a compelling urge to communicate to the rest of the world their every single action from the moment they wake up till their late-night adieu.
In theory, Facebook helps us to stay connected to our friends, yet, in reality, the reasons why so many people log in every day are more revealing than that! Though the posts come in many flavours, they all have something in common. They disclose more than you think, showing a strong link of self-concept to online behaviour. The way people choose to present themselves on social media speaks volumes about their personality and self-esteem.
All Facebook users relish the “likes” on their walls. Some ‘likes’ are based on sympathy with the creator of the content and sometimes even out of ignorance. The users do not necessarily read the content, especially when it comes to serious topics, while a few give a “like” just to support a certain social trend. We live in a culture where it is perfectly acceptable to ‘like’ everything without even knowing what it is about.
The ‘like’ is also seen as a sign of presence or perhaps the lack of knowledge to leave a comment. ‘Liking’ does not mean to actually enjoy something, as a post on death also sadly gets many ‘likes’!
Craving for recognition
Is there anything wrong about seeking virtual attention? Whenever you load a status update or post a picture, and get notifications for ‘likes’, doesn’t it make you feel good? Are you upset if you can’t get more ‘likes’? Many social media users have an innate desire for instant gratification, isn’t it? The “likes”, “shares” and “comments” very definitely play this role. Though virtual, it is psychologically fulfilling.
The best posts collect more “likes” and “shares”. Well, what is best is best left to the network community. Aren’t we unique human creatures with a craving to be liked and accepted? We all want to be loved and try to present the best version of ourselves. And what better way to depict our image than through social media? If you are basically an ‘agreeable’ person, the more likely you are tagged in photos posted by other people, as you tend to be friendly and less competitive.
The real and the imaginary
Having said that, remember that we all have our ‘real’ selves and our imaginary, fanciful side. Isn’t the illusion of our ‘dream self’ the main motivation when it comes to ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ online? You may think you are presenting yourself in a certain light, only to discover the other people view your online behaviour completely different. It is not just what we post that displays information about our personalities,but it’s also what we don’t post that can be quite telling.
Deceptive selfie angles, for instance, make average looking people attractive. Social media has bloated humanity’s capacity for self-obsession to new extremes. Yes, plenty of harmless reciprocations occur without any sort of agenda, but many users utilise it as a means of projecting an idealised version of the person they wished they were, rather than who they are in reality.
A word on peer pressure! When a post already had a large number of ‘likes’, the compulsive bias makes some participants to follow the herd mentality and ‘like’ it as well. When people ‘like’ our posts, we assume that our posts are meaningful. Therefore, we believe the response we are getting is candid, even when we may not genuinely ‘liking’ others’ posts.
Sending a ‘like’ also has the same effect as smiling or saying a kind word to someone, basically an easy way to convey positive acknowledgment.
The stiff upper lip
FB at times gets so political. We are annoyed that our cousin never ‘likes’ our posts but s/he dutifully gives his/her ‘thumbs-up’ for everyone else. So, the next time you feel frustrated by a lack of ‘likes’ or ‘comments’, don’t take it personally. Keep going.
There’s nothing wrong with getting an ego boost from ‘likes’ on your photos and content, but when you crave that feedback more and more, it may be time to evaluate how vulnerable you are on the ‘like’ button for your happiness.
Though there is no ‘dislike’ option (unless you specify it through ‘comment’), I would be curious to see a study done on those who choose not to hit the ‘like’ button.
Finally, one Facebook user forthrightly tells me: “I am born to be liked”.