Monday, October 19, 2015

Why do we enjoy getting "Likes" on Social Media?

"Likes" or "Favorite" or getting a "Star" on your post in Social Media can be pretty exciting. Especially if you got one from a crush, a celebrity or anyone you look up to. Let's explore the reason for this interesting behavior...

We humans are "social creatures" i bet you've heard that phrase a couple of times. But what does that exactly mean, being a social creature means you and I prefer to live surrounded by people whom we know and trust. This behavior has helped us survive natures claws successfully throughout the history of human civilization.

Social behaviors in its primitive form is seen in animals like bisons, elephants, deers, sheeps, horses etc as they are seen to herd. This behavior of needing a "social company" or "herding" is to increase their chances of survival. In an event where a predator comes, the herd will naturally stick together and move as a massive group. The one picked out by the predator is the member of the herd that is too slow or left out. If the individual bison was grazing alone in the fields, and a predator comes the chances of his survival is nearly equal to how fast he runs/fights/knows the escape route, fact, he might not even know the presence of a predator until its too late. Being in a herd helps in big way.

In the case of humans, we use to be in need of such defenses; in this era the survival of us depends on how well we accept and fight the challenges in the modern world. To survive these challenges we seek for a sense of a way that we feel if the world comes crashing down on you, these people around you will help you back on your feet. Knowing that you'll be given a second chance in any failures makes you confident in facing them and improves your overall success.

Example : If you lose your job and have no money to buy food or have shelter, having a family will help you meet those needs until you find another job. So, the moment your boss fires you, your survival senses kick in and lets you know that you are not going to die. You have a family that can provide the shelter(i.e. food, emotional comfort, etc).

A group of friends also provides a similar sense of security, notice gang members are usually in a group...each of them have the sense of security that they will protect each other. Also, how we find it more comforting to walk down a dark ally with a friend than alone. In every situation mentioned the sense of security is what keeps us going, you may have came up with your own scenarios where a similar concept is at play.

The larger the group of people who conform to us the more secure we feel and the bolder our moves become. "Conforming" to us means agreeing to our reactions and opinions, it is only then the "conformer" provides the "security" we expect. If two people constantly have opposing view on things, its unlikely they'll stick together. Similarly, we are more inclined to buy something if 10 people agree that you should buy it.

On a grand scale, people today dream of being movie stars, singers, or to simply put it....people in general want to be famous, being famous is associated with success. The success in this particular context is being socially accepted in a grand scale.This gives an incredible sense of security. "Sense of security" is different from "safety". The latter refers to the objective notion that one's life is not at risk.

For humans to be a "social creature" we need to fit into the society first, being the odd one out will usually result in rejection. Much like how if a sheep walks into a herd of bison, would the herd accept it? To be accepted into society is by showing that you too are like the society and that is by displaying the fact that you too are following the latest common interests, i.e. ripped jeans, skinny jeans, choice of words during conversations, preference to buy a product from a famous vendor etc. As I mentioned before "..only when the "conformer" agrees to your opinions will the relationship provide the sense of security.." (It is definitely far more complex than this, but I am only elaborating from one aspect to discuss the topic of this post).

Until this point, a few things should be clear:
  • Humans are social creatures
  • The need to be social is to seek for a sense of security
  • The larger the number people who conform to our opinions, the greater the sense of security
Social media opens the horizon to us, it helps us get more friends and lets us know of their approval to our conduct. Get a new dress, put it on, snap a selfie upload it and 1 day later u only got 2 likes....and you'll start thinking if the dress is not good? or you didn't look attractive. If you did the same and got 200 Likes, you feel that the dress is AMAZING. To add on, a few people commented that the dress is stunning, you are beautiful feel like you own the world! When a "Like" comes from your crush, the feeling is phenomenal the reason for that is...with the "like" you feel that he/she is accepting your post. Thus, making you feel the increased likely hood to win him/her.

Achieving more "likes" makes you feel more accepted, and that gives you a sense of security that is despite all your weirdness that you don't show in public...

Is this a good/bad habit? This post was not meant to do that, I was just exploring the interesting behavioral science of enjoying getting "Likes" on Social Media. But surely, posting inappropriately can get yourself in it wisely and enjoy the increasing "likes".

Note: Some people display a hatred towards posting personal issues on social media, its a fairly interesting subject as well. The objective reasoning that getting more likes doesn't mean you are indeed secure in any way fuels this hatred. Some people whom already analyze this science are limiting their social media friends to whom they already know and trust and this also, reduces the chances of inappropriate use of the information they posted.


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