Are we living vicariously through social media?
Has social media become the new mass communication?
In my eyes, it’s a yes.
Is it mass communication or competition?
That’s for you to decide.
I’m reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. My journalism colleagues and psychologists too are sure to recall this.
It was first proposed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow in his paper in 1943 titled “A Theory of Human Motivation”. Since then it has been lauded, criticised, analysed and adapted. For me, it still provides an interesting basis of human observation.
So what is it?
According to www.simplypsychology.org, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.
From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up.
Look at this image carefully. How many needs are we now turning to social media to fulfill?
It’s a tool that has become an intrinsic part of our lives – to reach out to and stay in touch with others and to keep track of our own path. Some people share a lot on social media while others are more guarded. I’m not judging. Post as much as you want and as often as you want on social media. It’s your prerogative.
But where my concern comes in is when social media supersedes or even replaces inter-personal communication.
It’s like saying – I don’t want to talk to you over the phone or I don’t want to meet you, but I will post on social media and share pictures of what I have been up to. In a way, you are saying to the person on the opposite end, that they don’t hold value in your life. It can be a slap in the face or a reality check.
Social media should never replace face-to-face communication. I mean, the smiley face emoji cannot replace the joy of seeing someone smile in person, even though you may find yourself smiling at your phone! A virtual – LOL – should also not replace actual laughter because that’s good for your soul. And when it comes to a handshake or hug, there can be no comparison.
However, the counter-argument is that given the fast and busy pace of life, there isn’t enough time to connect in the old-fashioned ways I have mentioned. With social media, communication is easier and more convenient.
But is it meaningful? What does it add to your life? Again, that’s for you to decide.
I’m the type of person who actually wants to hear someone’s voice if I am concerned about how they are doing or if I feel like having a heart to heart. And there’s no better way to do that than picking up the phone or arranging to meet in person. Seeing is believing and let’s face it, everything you see on social media isn’t always a true reflection. Also, if you haven’t seen it on social media, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
It’s what happens in the real world that really counts.
So as much as you may love social media, keep your life as real as you can with real engagement with real people who uplift you.
That’s a REAL blessing.