Social Media Herd

8c8791691-1c5219243-1c4871282-tz-facebook-intro-streams-desktop-large.nbcnews-ux-600-480Humans, among many, are exemplary models of herd animals; we live in various social groups, assign one another social roles, and often follow a variety social mores and norms. We have groups that are interested in electronic music; and in them, there are people who we address as DJ or Producer; simultaneously, each group and social role have social norms and mores to fulfill; for instance, ingesting psychedelics while attending electronic music festivals or playing the music for the event. Additionally, we understand that the collective will react to our choices, so we consider, beforehand, the implications of our beliefs, actions, and lifestyles through the lens of the herd mind: what brands to buy, who to befriend, how to behave, etcetera. Evidently, we have a herd mentality that influences our being and the fabric of our “self”.

More recently, developments in technology and science created a new dimension for our group life, resulting in a migration into digital environments like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Opening a web-browser, picking up a smartphone, or applying pressure to the many buttons of a T.V. remote can reveal the new aspects of the collective. These technologies allow us to connect instantly around the globe, reaching out to groups that were once beyond our means of communication. As well, we are now updated about our tribe’s status, daily, by this technology; take, for example, televised news, notifications on our mobile devices, and Youtube. On top of that, the social media you use is dictated by others, not yourself; consider, would anyone use a particular social media, which is designed to share things about your life/self, if no other person uses it? You are urged, by the herd, to use the latest and trendiest social media platforms; or more appropriately, the platform which is used by the most people; we have platform migrations, Myspace to Facebook. Facebook users, Snap-chatters, Fox news consumers, are the new digital herds.

10262011_829208553774392_7275384135181625419_nThe digital collective has begun to carve out a platonic cave for its members. They’ve become submerged with materialism, sensationalism, and to no surprise a fear of anachronism; so much so that people lay in wait outside many storefronts to acquire newer versions of the same device, irrespective of any cynic approach on life. To elaborate, one should have a Cellphone; if not, surprise and shock are the primary reactions; people not having a T.V. or access to T.V. programs, as well as having not any form of social media, is a rarity; even further, many people access or have accessed the internet. We’ve shifted from experiencing our environment to experiencing the screens in our surroundings; and, as a result, sensationalism is sweeping over herds at a rate never before witnessed. The abundant amount of screens, particularly those with internet access, created circumstances that are favorable for spreading information at a macro-level. False, misleading, or inaccurate information can now be passed along like the common cold. At the same time, the content is shared and spread amidst circles of friends; meaning, groupthink has a higher chance to occur. Consider, for illustrative purposes, the ice bucket challenge. This trend had good intentions, but many participated for social reasons and not to raise awareness for ALS; thus, many dumped ice on their heads because their friends were doing so.  A digital herd has emerged out of our technological advances.

Going along with the herd is not bad, but being unaware while doing so is dangerous. If unaware, we may be subjected to groupthink without knowing, which can lead to unhappiness, among other things. Of course, we have ingrained impressions, which will be around forever, such as; sexual attraction, social relationships, etcetera; but nonetheless, we should look at society and its offerings and decide what it means to us instead of following blindly.



Ideasinhat is a business development analyst and longtime reader of academic literature. He writes books and essays on science and philosophy, and posts them to this website. The essays, as with the books, cover topics from psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science to economics, politics, and law.

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