I throw things around in my head a lot, so that means I like to look at stuff and find patterns.
I have neither Instagram nor Twitter. I use mainly Facebook. However, I have many friends who do use those platforms, and I wanted to especially mention Instagram. I know there are many wonderful uses for it, like sharing really great photos or advocating worthy causes through visual media. However there is this fierce darkness with it, just like every other kind of social media. This heart of darkness, as I see it, is the Peer Factor.
Yeah, yeah. Peer pressure, teens, so on and so forth. The usual nonsense the child counsellors and parents and whatnot all rant about. Tons of research put into how to curb this mighty evil, if I might say so. The pressure for teens is ever so great to get onto social media platforms, and not just one only. As many as majority of their friends have is the given number. If they are all chatting and having fun on reddit, to be extreme, then why certainly this young person X must have an account there. To be left out is something harrowing and menacing that many actually do feel the need to eradicate. If this means getting into social media, then so be it. Or, more realistically, if it means fitting in with a certain ‘dress code’ or ‘expletive standard’ or lifestyle, then it shall be done. This reminds me of my Conform/Transform post. One main factor is the ‘power to change’. Have you got enough ‘swag’ (as they say), or rather, social potency to transform the standards to suit yours, or will you have to fit into the cookie cutter mould?
Enough of that, because my main point wasn’t going back there. It was to expand the issue about boy-girl relationships into a more relevant Internet-savvy crowd and generation. The existing theorem is, if one’s peers are all hyped about the opposite sex (and taking steps of varying degrees, from booze parties to getting into a relationship), then peer pressure exerts this impressive force on the individual, which may result in action depending on resistance R (look at my previous post, I guess.) That’s how I would phrase it. We all know it too well. Now then, by treating this same ‘peers’ group as transferable onto a different medium – that is, an online social platform – it then follows that the peer force can act through the medium. How exactly is interesting.
So my original ‘link’ was that I observed the relationship between likelihood of some of my male friends getting a girlfriend, and their degree of participation in and number of social media platforms: truly it is a good case study if we treat such a pattern as evidence, rather than dispute it. One day maybe they will do research, or maybe they already have.
The reason pressure can still work in social media is because society and its norms is a very flexible, unpredictable fabric. If you send a transverse wave through it it can be thoroughly felt at the other side, assuming just enough force. Without a single doubt it is powerful. I have two main and possible mechanisms for its success as relating to the case study:
- Greater interactions. This is possibly the most obvious and basic. Increasing person-to-person virtual interactions through social media increases the influence of the force upon oneself. Of course this is the force in a very weak, individualised form (rather than a crashing tsunami). But with the dynamic connections one makes it is not surprising it is not just a few, but many many interactions an individual can make with others through social media.
- Passive observation and comparison. For Instagram, passive observation is expressed as looking through posts of people you follow. Perhaps on FB more likely to be posts, and Twitter obviously tweets. These are some of the thing a user ‘observes’ ‘passively’, since he may or may not actively respond to it. (apart from liking, or commenting (which is interacting)). Whereas interactions are more likely active, this field is a passive motor for peer pressure, prompting a pent-up series of comparisons between other’s state and one’s own state. Your friends A and B and C and…. have girlfriends or boyfriends, while you are Forever Alone. Sure, you will not be won over instantly, but considering a high C (again look at my previous post haha), it is highly likely your opinions of ‘relationships at such a young age’ are going to change. Normalised is the word. Active response is the final truimph of peer pressure.
There are many subsets to these mechanisms, which may deviate from ‘strictly active’ or ‘strictly passive’. That is the nature of the flexible fabric. Very sly it is, too.
I have my own opinions on adolescent or even teenager relationships, but that is mine to keep. You can find your own, or more likely than not you already have. Regardless, I hope I have convinced you that there is an high likelihood of social media impacting (or having impacted) your opinions.