How influential is social media in our daily life? Do you realize the the social influences that happen when you log in to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? The reality is that all of these services are social, a melting pot of cultures and ideas that you see everyday.
The reality of our online lives is that we are constantly adapting and changing. Faster than ever we are updating status and editing pictures to conform to others perceptions of us online. What is really behind you taking that picture of yourself every week or day? Probably for the attention it brings and the people who comment or ‘like’ your post. It goes beyond posting a new picture though. Our ideas and morals are questioned every day when we browse through these sites. We see things we are ‘expected’ to see and do, feel and like. A quick look into research on this said that when: “[geotagging] occurs…the probability of a friend in the network adopting the behavior increases (source).” It may seem like geotagging a picture is a small thing, but it spreads to the bigger thoughts and morals you hold. Posting that picture of your food, campaigning for your new favorite candidate, or getting that new tattoo were probably decisions made for you by the social influences online.
There is no real solution to stop the social influence the internet has. As we see with social change research, the best way is to move away from that damaging environment. This doesn’t mean stopping internet usage all together, which is impossible, but move to different communities online that aren’t as damaging. This may be difficult to pinpoint though, because things like Facebook have us tied in with our families, effectively tying us to that site due to social obligations. Leaving something like that is like leaving your actual family behind. Other sites like Instagram and twitter have us scrolling to be entertained or impressed. Constantly on the verge of the next ‘great’ thing, or so we think.
The tie we have to social media influences us dramatically. The environment we experience online changes our perceptions, effectively making us all the same based on what we see. Depending on what you use or what you see, this influence can be good or bad. Chances are, you are influenced a lot more by what you see online than you think.
Papagelis, M., Murdock, V., & Zwol, R. V. (2011). Individual behavior and social influence in online social systems. Proceedings of the 22nd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia – HT ’11. doi:10.1145/1995966.1995998