I have been thinking about Social Media a great deal lately, both because I am speaking around the country on Social Media and Marketing though Social Media and I have some conclusions about why Social Media in its many forms is so popular in the world.
If we take a look at people and assume that more people have a “Not OK” existential or psychological position as described in transactional analysis, and if we assume that it is BECAUSE of this position that people are reluctant to engage in intimate communication with others, then we can take a short jump and also make the assumption that the barriers to connecting with people in a real way are only present when we as people have to interact with others in intimate ways. The further we distance ourselves from the communication, the more comfortable we get with the interaction. This means that Social Media, as a way of communicating is equal to text messaging at creating distance while still actually communicating, and this ALONE will make Social Media incredibly popular with the majority of people.
Now lets add to that by suggesting that Social Media is ALSO a fantastic time structuring tool, which lets us busy ourselves for as little or as much time as we like without being intimate in any way, with anybody. What could be more attractive to someone fearing intimacy?
I think that Social Media tools allow people to create the illusion of intimacy, with larger groups of people in a way that is strikingly similar to the connection maintained by online gaming enthusiasts. Facebook or Twitter could be looked at very easily as the online game of non-gamers. The tools allow us to form groups without intimate connection, interact with celebrities of all kinds, communicate in non-intimate ways with people who are friends, as well as those who are really not, but are called “Friends” or “Followers” both of which are appealing, but perhaps a bit misleading terms when we look at the groups that we form as a whole.
So Social Media I think, combines the ability to form and maintain groups with which a person can interact, from a distance and in non-intimate ways, preserving the illusion of connection but without the actual risks or rewards of intimacy, and lets us structure our communication so that we can look at ourselves as powerful and potent individuals by removing the fear that many deal with in face to face or group interactions.
This combination is as potentially devastating as it is powerful, in that it provides a seductive tool that feeds the ego while increasing the lack of intimacy for many. It might be wise to use caution with our new toys, to check in with ourselves and see if we are still connecting in real ways with the people around us, or if in fact we are creating more and more distance.
For now I think we will all have to be our own judge.