Humans Are Social Animals
“We, as humans, are social animals.” This is a phrase that I have been hearing since middle school. I have learned that the need to belong is one of the core evolutionary needs which we seek to obtain in life. It covers a lot of explanations that underlie our behaviors such as following the trends, looking to make new friends, rubbing somebody the right way, etc.. It influences our daily lives, primary self-concept, as well as the digital self-concept that we manually create. Accordingly, it also shapes our tendencies, expectations, and plans.
However, in today’s world full of “want to be’s and want to do’s”, I feel as our need to belong is affecting our lives even more if that is even possible.
Today, social media platforms are so common that even our seven-year-old siblings or, worse, our pets have an account. Most of us have either a Twitter, Instagram or at least a Facebook account that we are actively using to communicate and share what is going on with our lives as if people care. We are constantly trying to share our emotions, vacations, what we ate that day, and so on. Even while writing this, I am posting a story about how my weekend went with the hope that someone special will comment on it. We are, implicitly, trying to achieve this perfect storyline which would have immense overlap with the profiles we see and admire on those social platforms.
In other words, with the increased implementation of digital media to our lives, we also started reflecting our need to belong to the digital world. Digital media organs became a tool for reshaping one’s life and creating an identity. We are being exposed to various trends, styles, and new technologies with all the movies and Instagram posts we come across with. The digital world seems to be more superior for us that we implicitly want to be like the people that we see online or want to do things that they are doing. For the ones who can’t look and dress like all the influencers and models that we follow in real life, the closest thing to achieve becomes a digital self-concept that is similar to what we want. To me, this seems to be an implementation of the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’. However, in this version the want to be’s are limitless, and the number of things to fake until making it increases with every single post.
It sounds weird when I say it out loud and most people who face the reality that we are actually trying to create a digital self-concept to be approved by others react with ‘No, I am not influenced by anyone. I just wanted a change of style and decided on these.’ or ‘ I don’t need social approval from others. I am just doing it because I like it this way.’. However, our tendency to create a storyline on social platforms and the creation of a digital self-concept is also related to the need to belong that I was talking about. We, humans, seek approval from others whom we might not even know. We want to be liked, have more than a certain amount of likes in our posts, to be talked about and to be similar to some others so that we can satisfy the social part of our creation.
It Is Too Loud Outside, I Can Not Hear My Own Thoughts
I have been talking from the third person and on a general sense until now as if I am a superior human being who figured all out. Unfortunately, I am not. I am also a human being who wants to belong, to be approved, liked and talked about. Maybe more than some others, maybe not.
My days start with checking my Instagram as the first thing when my alarm clock goes on which then leads to checking WhatsApp and Snapchat. I usually continue with YouTube or Netflix during breakfast and only after that start with ‘my real life’. Going through this routine mostly ends my day with disappointment; because my days never turn out to be like the main character’s in my favorite tv-series, I never look like those influencers that I follow on Instagram or I never experience the feeling of being a famous actress. I know that these won’t be a part of my day even before starting it but this doesn’t stop me from having those “want to be and want to do” lists. In fact, those lists are getting longer and longer.
However, after some point, this whole thing started to become too much. The joy of scrolling through Instagram posts, watching stories and tv-series turned into pressure. My life became surrounded by “have to do” lists instead.
All these have to do’s and expectations became a part of a bigger noise. It is too loud now that I can’t even hear my own thoughts. I can’t determine my objective state of mind. My desired self-concept (digital) and primary self-concept got tangled in a way that I am not sure of my objective thoughts and wants.
But, am I the only one who is struggling with this? Can anyone else hear the noise as well?