Does social media get us closer to Maslow’s core needs—on the surface it would seem that it does, but let’s explore it a little.
One thing is for sure; the way we connect to the world is completely different than a decade ago:
- We don’t watch TV (youth TV hours on decline)
- We don’t read the newspaper (down 47% from 2000)
- Cell phones rule (5 billion mobile phone user)
- We like the internet (up 566% from 2000)
The world has changed and how we share and digest information has changed along with it. But where is all of this leading? Are our relationships better? Does posting a picture of our cat lead to a closer connection with our friends? My best conversation, and the ones that really matter, still take place over a beer in person or during a face-to-face meeting.
Our Time On Social Networks Has Tripled
Studies show that our time on social networks has tripled in the last year. Soren Gordhamer writes in this excellent article on Mashable that social media is pushing us to reveal more about our humanness.
Soren goes on to suggest that we are becoming more transparent and he says that’s a good thing.
How is your attention span these days?
News and communication moves faster than ever before and social media allows people to ‘feel connected’. CNN reports that Twitter traffic increases by a factor of 30 whenever “Glee” is on and in 2011 during the Super Bowl, there were 4,000 tweets sent per second.
Nobody has to be alone ever again—unless your internet goes down (thank God for smart phones).
I want to slow down but i just can’t, I got to check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbr, Instagram and Vine.
Social Media Allows Unedited Expression
Social media has reveled one need that Maslow might have missed and that is the need for unedited expression. Social media allows you to say what you want in the way that you want. This is important because self-expression is at the root of who we are and social media exposes us to the world and allows for our tribe to find us. Seth Godin reminds us of how important tribes are, “for millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
So you see, social networks allow us to share our interest and communicate that interest to the world, it allows us to have a dialogue about things we feel passionate about with people that are touched by our expression.
But here is where it get’s tricky because most of us are editing our expressions (ala 140 characters) and yet it seems that deep down inside we all want to connect with the unedited versions of ourselves and each other.
But look, a superficial expression leads to a superficial tribe and that just seems like a waste of time.
Perhaps Soren was right, being more transparent about who we are and what we feel roots our connection in honesty. Honesty is always a wonderful place to start any connection and it really is the backbone of right relationship. So starting with 140 characters of honesty might be a good place for us to start after all.
Are You Feed-up with Social Media?
Nathan Jurgenson, a ‘net theorist’ points out that there’s a lot of “reality” in the virtual, and a lot of “virtual” in our reality. He reminds us that when we use a phone we’re still flesh-and-blood humans occupying space and time. He goes on to suggest that even when we are engaged in a real activity, like playing a game of tennis or surfing, the internet impacts our thinking: “Will I tweet about this when I get back?”
Wherever you go, there you are—and so is the internet.
You can disconnected yourself from social media but it might not lead to a better life experience. Paul Miller tested this (life is better without social media) theory by unplugging for a year. After coming back online recently Paul confessed to THE VERGE that being disconnected didn’t necessarily lead to a better life and his theory that the internet was “corrupting my soul” wasn’t true.
Tweet me, let’s go have a beer and really get into it.