Why do people post on social media?

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In this post, I thought it would be fun to think about some of the different reasons why people post on social media and the internet. Disclaimer: I post on social media a lot so I’m probably biased in what I write.

Related: What is internet Shitposting? And why I love it so much

What counts as social media?

When I talk about social media I include these following things (and related ones)

  • Traditional social media
    • Instagram
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Linkedin 
  • Entertainment/searchable platforms
    • Tiktok
    • Reddit
    • Tumblr
    • YouTube
  • Communication apps that allow for any form of open group chats/stories/threads
    • Snapchat
    • Kik
    • Telegram
    • Slack
  • All types of internet-based forums where people can talk and communicate with groups of people (especially strangers).

Why is it interesting to know why people post on social media?

Personally, I have always lived at least a part of (if not the majority) of my social life, on the internet. And I know I’m not the only one. Now, during the pandemic, and just in general due to the development of technology in modern life, an increasingly larger amount of people are doing the same. Especially young people who are growing up with the internet and social media as an inherent part of their lives.

I want to understand myself, and others, who enjoy living their social lives like this. 

I also know I’ve read many people write comments such as “stop posting on social media and get out and meet people in real life instead”. And I know that social media has gotten a lot of critique during the past few years for being “cringy” and bad. So, I’d like to examine if it really is that cringy or bad to post on social media, or if it can be a neutral or positive part of life as well, depending on how you use it.

Just a disclaimer: For me, the internet and social media is a part of real life. I’ve had entire friend groups, communities, and best friends on the internet, who I’ve never met in real life. Those friendships and relationships have felt as real to me as the ones I’ve had in the physical non-digital world. So, already there, I see true value in social media friendships.

Reasons why people post on social media

Here are some of the most common reasons I’ve found that people post on social media for:

  • Communicate with friends and family
  • Keep other people updated about our lives and what’s happening
  • Company and feeling less alone
  • Boast about something that we feel proud or happy for and want people to know us by
  • Entertain and enjoy each other’s company
  • Inspire 
  • Help and give advice
  • Network and grow our social circle, finding new people to connect to
  • Emotional outlet to the world
  • Be seen, recognized, and receive some attention for one’s existence

When looking at the list like this, I don’t think there’s anything cringy about posting on social media. 

I know most of the critique against social media is when people post in order to only boast and get attention, which can for some people feel too superficial of a behavior. But to me, those underlying reasons for someone’s behavior can be found in real-life interactions as well. Some people only talk to boast or get attention. So that’s no fault of social media, but perhaps instead a critique that should be directed towards the person’s values instead. Although, I think in general it’s better to not care too much at all about what other people are doing, as long as it’s not hurting someone else.

Personally, I probably post for all of those above reasons. I purposefully try to avoid posting in order to boast or get attention though, since that’s not the person I want to be. But at the same time, we’re all just human and it’s natural to be proud of oneself for some achievements or things we’ve done or experienced that we think are cool, and that we want to share.

I guess in the end, it’s a matter of if you are posting in order to make yourself feel superior or not. That type of posting is probably what causes much of the issues with social media that we’re seeing today.

Social media as a part of modern existence

A part of me sometimes wants to stop being on social media, but at the same time, it feels similar to wanting to stop existing. So much of today’s social interactions, at least in those social circles I’ve been in, happens digitally. And as the world is becoming increasingly more international, with people relocating to new locations all over the world, I think digital socializing will only become even more prominent. 

As mentioned earlier, I am not alone in having lived entire social lives on the internet. And for me, it’s been a great thing. The people who are born in close proximity to us physically (classmates, people who live on the same streets, and etc) may very well not be the people that we can authentically connect to. But the internet, bringing together people of all ages, from all over the world, can help us find our true communities. 

So, I am a huge supporter of digital friendships, relationships, communities, and existence. This topic is much bigger than just in regards to social media though, it can also be related to the metaverse or virtual realities lived out in open-world games.

I’m excited to see what the future will bring us in terms of digital socialization and digital spaces that can stimulate and enhance digital personas. I am rooting for digital personas with avatars, names, and “physical” spaces being represented digitally. It would be cool to be able to live a physical life through the internet. 

And those who do not want to live digitally, but only physically, they can go do that. But those of us who wants to expand the definition and possibilities of human relationships and connectivity, should do that as well!

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