Social networks are a means of social communication that focuses on establishing contact with other members through the Internet. This technological advance has given us the opportunity to forge new relationships that sometimes end up becoming important friendships in our lives.
We go back to the mid-1990s when AOL (America Online) and BBS (Bulletin Board System), the first two social websites in the history of the Internet, appeared. The first of these has been in the doldrums for years, or as we would say in social networks, “gone out of style. In this changing world, few will last more than a decade.
The second is a system that allowed the creation of the first forums and today is still used by millions of people, even though it has been surpassed in functionality by its competitors.
A Paradigm Shift: The Weirdos
The fact that we all use social networks leads us to think that first of all, if you don’t use them you are different from the rest . We can all contrast the fact that in class we have had that classmate who has no social profile and we look at him as the “weirdo”, since he is not up to date, but maybe he really doesn’t need to or hasn’t had the opportunity, however this leads us to judge him when sometimes we don’t even know him.
Social networks today are used for more than two hours on average per person, which means that we have stopped doing things to spend our time interacting and creating communities on the Internet . What has changed and what motivations have led us to do such a thing?
The motivations we have in giving “I like”
How many times have we clicked on “Like”, “Share” or “Re-Tweet” to someone just because we want them to remember us or return the interaction when we upload a photo or share a status?
Let’s not kid ourselves, we’ve all done it more than once.
This is because social networks feed our ego and our self-esteem , and in this world where there are more and more individuals, we need to satisfy our needs in some way and stand out from the crowd to “be somebody”.
Social networks give us the opportunity to put on a mask and be someone else (or pretend to be someone else) or, for example, to create anonymous or fake profiles and make new friends. All these opportunities are used to socialize, which is the original goal of social networks.
Is being “popular” on social networks equivalent to being “popular” in real life?
A computer engineer conducted an experiment a little over a year ago, creating a computer program that performed the action of “I like” to every photo that appeared in its “feed” on Instagram.
That experiment did that:
- Every day I got 30 new followers
- You will be invited to more parties
- More people stopped him on the street because they saw him on Instagram
But the most surprising thing, and one that supports the above-mentioned theory, is that his friends asked him to upload more photos because they felt obliged to give him back these “I like” that he had been giving out in an automated way and without criteria.
Human beings are social animals by nature and in many cases we feel the obligation to return actions received in networks
The same effect can be seen applied to Twitter, where people use the technique of following other users en masse, hoping that these users, without knowing them at all, will return the interaction, and that it works quite well as the ratio is quite high.
By randomly following users on Twitter, you get a return on your follow up of between 10 and 30% depending on the interests of the users. There’s the rub.
Social networks help increase (or decrease) the ego and self-esteem of their users. Many of these users feel indebted to the people who have followed them or interacted with them , creating a “code of behaviour” that is not written anywhere but that has spread on social networks and is accepted by the vast majority of users.
The popularity of people on social networks is now being transmitted to reality, and they are gaining more power to influence others.
As a last insight , we can say that the online world (Internet, Social Networks…) and the offline world (real life) are becoming more and more united and will end up being treated as one single entity.