I have been dependent on social media since I first created my Facebook account at the age of ten. However, until the experience of blogging for Design and its Discontents: Design, Economy, Culture, and Society, I did not know why my reliance was so strong. Through reflection on my past and current actions, I realized that I used social media as an alternate form of communication in order to satisfy my need for meaningful interactions in my daily life. Meaningful interaction implies that the interactions must go beyond surface level and form connections (Blears, 2009, p.9). At the time of social media being introduced in my life, I needed it to create connections that gave me the ability to have meaningful interactions and have not been able to remove myself from that mindset since.
This led me to consider why people use social media: both for good and bad reasons. What I found is that most research done prior to 2018 focused on the bad. Specifically, a 2013 study found that “social media provides ideal platforms for narcissistic self-regulation, as social media allows one to have almost full control over self-presentation according to narcissistic personalities,” (Leung, 2013). While this is an issue, it completely negates the validity of people using social media to show their true self and connect with others. Social media users cannot be generalized as one personality because they encompass almost every person. There is a range of behaviors and attitudes represented on every social media platform and every platform is different, so it cannot be fair to say that social media is just for narcissists.
Since the research on the good side is lacking, I decided to create an exhibit that would display the positive impact social media has on people everywhere. Through a survey collection, I was able to collect responses from people living all across the U.S. as well as some international locations. This project allows people to identify why they use social media by inviting further interaction with this display. It can be used to connect with those you already know or create entirely new relationships. Regardless, social media is the thread that connects people across geographic borders and other divides. The connective ability benefits every kind of interpersonal relationship.
Blears, H. (2009). Guidance on meaningful interaction: How encouraging positive relationships between people can help build community cohesion. London: Communities and Local Government.
Leung, L. (2013). Generational differences in content generation in social media: The roles of the gratifications sought and of narcissism. Computers in Human Behavior,29(3), 997-1006. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.028