Imagine a girl in Kashmir dressing up in the best of dresses, putting on make-up, and getting all excited and ready for the most important day of her life: her wedding.
Until a few years ago, it used to be a very private affair with only the kin and close friends attending the bride and getting her ready for the new phase of her life.
There used to be a photographer who would click a few pictures or shoot a video to capture these valuable moments, all of which would find their way to the wedding album or on the DVD the family would happily watch a few weeks later.
The advent of social media and how deep it has crept into our lives can be understood from the fact that most of the lovely moments in our weddings or family gatherings find their way to social media.
These days many brides and grooms have made it a point to upload their pictures on social media platforms like Instagram right when they are in the middle of or soon after the ceremony. Instagram has become a repository of all such moments that used to be private until recently but are now viewed and commented upon by anyone out there.
As such, your Instagram feed may show you pictures of some bride that you may have no inkling about, or a couple posing for a picture in some gathering that you were neither invited to nor expected to be.
In fact, people in these SM feeds are not known to you at all. They are strangers to you who deliberately allowed you and thousands like you to enter their personal spaces. How else to describe it?
It is not just a few hundred people who react to such content with emojis or comments. There is a sea of passive social media users out there that consumes the content silently.
Why do people do it?
The best explanation of this behaviour can be gauged from a social media sharing study conducted by The New York Times.
As many as 68% of respondents in the study said they share on social media to give people a better sense of who they are or what they care about. An explanation of it is provided by psychologist Carl Rogers who argues that our personalities are composed of a “real self” (who we really are), and an “ideal self” (who we want to be).
According to Rogers, we are constantly motivated to pursue behaviours that bring us closer to our ideal self. So, the content we share could be seen as a reflection of the person we want the world to see. For example, we might endorse a political campaign to represent our views. Or, we may share a funny video to convey our humour, or a music video to express our musical taste.
Even more, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology reports that social media sharing may supply positive feedback that feeds into our self-esteem. The more we post on social media, the more the platform “rewards” us with likes, follows, and content. This solidifies our belief that the identity we portray on social media is legitimate and encourages us to continue to post for more feedback in return. Until Facebook and Instagram were mere websites, privacy meant a lot in our lives. Our personal space, our likes and dislikes, and our commentaries on things and events used to a have limited audience.