At our very nature is the need to survive and there is safety in numbers. It’s always that poor gazelle separated from the herd that gets eaten. Society, and there are exceptions, offers us a form of protection. We give up our individual rights in some ways to have greater security as a group. To be part of a group, we have to connect with others.
Though few of us will ever experience a lion chasing us in our modern lives, we have our own perceived predators. We also still have the instinct to form “herds.” This is loosely reflected in our behavior in social media channels such as Facebook when we accept someone as a friend and we create lists such as Family, Close Friends, and Acquaintances.
The division of labor is not a new concept. For the most part, if you are in a developed country, you rely on the expertise of numerous people within your community. From the mechanic who fixes your car to the surgeon who fixes a broken bone, we trade their contributions for our own. The advantage is the potential of greater efficiency. A mechanic who has fixed 1,000 brakes on a specific make and model of a car is likely going to be more efficient in doing it than someone who is doing it for the first time. Social reviews are a loose form of this concept.
For example, if 500 of your friends saw a movie that you are considering and hated it, then this information might allow you to save yourself the time and misery of watching it.
Most of us wish to think that our identity is something independent of others. After all isn’t a sense of self just that – something that we know separately from others? In truth, we are limited in what we see about ourselves. If all we had to define ourselves were our perspective, it might be similar to trying to describe a house from the inside out only. Others in our lives help us to balance our inside-out perspective by telling us what we look like from the outside-in.
Also, through observing other’s lives and experiences, we often learn something fundamental about our humanity. Social media allows multiple people to witness the parts of their lives that they choose to share and allows them to receive feedback. It also allows them to view different expressions of their own humanity.
Consider your own reasons for connecting to people and then maybe ask how effective is social media in in helping you do this? Doing this, may make your use of social media more purposeful and rewarding.