Take a good look at your social media newsfeed. Go on and scroll up or down a bit. You will notice it is full of posts and comments on various issues ranging from political rants to pictures of the latest vacation, or someone showing off their new ride. That is the world we live in, almost run by the internet and social media. Looks like a mix of many things happening there – a parallel yet fully assimilated universe.
At face value, status updates seem harmless – just someone expressing opinions, or simply having a great time posting memes from 2012. But science now says that social media is not just about hanging out with buddies, colleagues, and family members and having a great time. The content you see on the newsfeed tells a story about the individual lives of people who posted it. Yes, the feed has a way of revealing who you really are.
In a study published in the Science Daily magazine in 2015, psychologists at Brunel University in London collected and analyzed data from 555 Facebook users to examine their personality traits and behaviors. The study found that people with low self-esteem and high narcissism scores posted updates about their romantic relationships, achievements, and and careers, in an effort to seek validation and the attention they crave.
When using social media, you make decisions about what to post or hide. You get to choose whether to post a photo of your newborn, or publish a piece ranting about social or political issues. However, this study demonstrates that although people try to curate and idealize their content on social media, their personalities still peek out in spite of trying to show the ideal version of themselves.
Therefore, whether you use social sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or LinkedIn for professional or social purposes, the information you share on social media speaks volumes about the kind of person you are.
Your posts, comments, friends, and the pages you follow give insights about your hobbies, political persuasions, priorities, and general perspective. In some instances, people give away information they probably should keep private via their content such as pictures of their latest holiday, job, or neighborhood.
While the 2015 Brunel University study is not conclusive because it relied on the participants’ reported behavior on Facebook, it opens a window into how social media reflects a person’s real-life behavior.
By checking the kind of content you post on your newsfeed, you can gauge the kind of value systems you present yourself as holding, and how they may be influencing your behavior. When you are conscious of your actions and the consequences that might follow those actions, you are likely to change and pursue better life habits. This will reflect in your offline and online activities.
Ultimately, social media updates are not just about having a great time – you need to pay special attention to what you and others post on their newsfeed. What you see there holds a lot of truth about who people are in real life.