What should I name my kitten?
Social media is a funny place.
Once upon a time we would ask our friends what we should name our new kitten.
We would simply look out the door to see if the Fish and Chip shop was open.
We would visit friends and speak to them, not stare at our screens together.
We wouldn’t spend 15 minutes taking photos of our new festive flip flops to share online; instead we would show the people closest to us.
We would just live.
We would speak to people.
We would engage in the real world.
Now, we engage in a very different way. Instead of asking our friends the important questions, we post them into Facebook groups.
Instead of making our own decisions we automatically look for gratification from others. I won’t pick my own kitten’s name, instead I will ask a Facebook group full of people I have never met and call it the most popular choice. The name that will get me the most likes….
When did social media become so unsocial? And, on a much scarier note, when did we become so engrossed in our digital world?
Being behind a screen is easy. You can maintain relationships and status and please your ego, by showing people only what you want them to see. There is no or very little effort required. You can live your dream life all from the comfort of your sofa.
Everything is easier when you don’t have to look someone in the eye, when you don’t have to see their reactions, when you can control the situation without thought to other people.
Behind a screen our self-control becomes limited, our egos inflated, and we sometimes behave as though we are only talking to ourselves. Posting those once rhetorical questions into social media, instead of pondering them privately.
But ease and ego are not the only reason these conversations have now moved online. Why would you put your head out the door and see if the Chip Shop is open, where is the gratification from that? Instead, you post the question on Facebook and people reply, lots of them, your Facebook likes and comments quickly add up, and from each little buzz on our phones we get an endorphin hit which is simply too addictive to resist. Each new interaction gives us this high, so why would we miss any opportunity to maximise it?
Between this endorphin rush, the safety of being behind a screen and the ability to show ourselves in the very, very best light, it is no wonder we have become invested in a virtual world instead of the real one.
This is having a massive effect on our mental health and happiness, but as marketers what do we do about this? Where is our moral line?
In the simplest answer, that is up to each content creator, each page owner, each group owner, but realistically there is no easy answer to this. By doing our jobs to the very best of our abilities we will naturally look to exploit this. By working in social media, we need to be aware of this and ensure, that to the best of our abilities, we do not cross the moral line.