The Psychology behind Social Media

Web ushers in age of ambient intimacy – International Herald Tribune

social_media_psychology

"A single page that like a social gazette from the 18th century delivered a long list of up-to-the-minute gossip about their friends, around the clock, all in one place. A stream of everything that’s going on in their lives," as Zuckerberg [Facebook] put it.
In essence, Facebook users didn’t think they wanted constant, up-to-the-minute updates on what other people are doing. Yet when they experienced this sort of omnipresent knowledge, they found it intriguing and addictive. Why?

Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it "ambient awareness."

Each so-called tweet [Twitter] was so brief as to be virtually meaningless. But as the days went by, something changed. Haley discovered that he was beginning to sense the rhythms of his friends’ lives in a way he never had before. The ambient information becomes like "a type of ESP," as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.

"Merely looking at a stranger’s Twitter or Facebook feed isn’t interesting, because it seems like blather. Follow it for a day, though, and it begins to feel like a short story; follow it for a month, and it’s a novel." – Marc Davis, a chief scientist at Yahoo and former professor of information science at the University of California at Berkeley

Facebook and Twitter may have pushed things into overdrive, but the idea of using communication tools as a form of "co-presence" has been around for a while.

"I outsource my entire life, I can solve any problem on Twitter in six minutes."

Having an audience can make the self-reflection even more acute, since, as my interviewees noted, they’re trying to describe their activities in a way that is not only accurate but also interesting to others: the status update as a literary.
In an age of awareness, perhaps the person you see most clearly is yourself.

 

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