The Psychology of Social Media — Why We Feel the Need to Share

The phenomenon that altered the relationship we have with others and ourselves

Victoria Halina

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As someone who has pretty much grown up with Facebook and Instagram, I became recently curious not just in the human psyche in general, but also in the effects that social media has on the human mind, the conscious and unconscious. Once I became overly aware of the negative impacts of social media, having lived through them myself, I started noticing patterns in others everywhere. This curiosity was fueled by observing people’s behaviors online.

Inspired by a friend, I recently deleted my Instagram account, and have been seriously debating removing Facebook too. Funnily enough, when I found myself doing something cool, I automatically reached for my phone to take a picture. I did not have Instagram anymore, so I posted it on my WeChat moments. The one singular aspect that fascinates me the most, is our NEED to post online. I can’t help but ask — why?

My questions are: What is it that propels us to document our lives and why do we feel we absolutely need to post the things we do on social media? How does this relate to the image we seek to maintain online, and our sense of self-worth offline? What is post-worthy, and why do we only post the “cool” things and hide the bad?

I believe that first and fore-mostly, our behavior online all goes back to our sense of worth offline. It also relates to our psychological state, most namely whether we have low self-esteem and other certain tendencies such as narcissism, anxiety and depression, which therefore translates in a need for admiration, for example, if leaning towards narcissism.

According to psychologists Wilcox and Stephen in their paper ‘Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control’, sites such as Facebook can increase self-esteem. People tend towards presenting a socially desirable, positive self-view to others when online. In turn, this gives individuals an increase in self-esteem, but a decrease in self-control. It all ties in with the idea of keeping up appearances, and painting a picture to the audience that compose of our friends lists and beyond. Individuals can choose information that they post…

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Victoria Halina

Explorer, starter, change agent. Polymath — you’ll tell by my writing. Founder at www.alpacacoffee.co.uk — single origin coffee in plastic free packaging.