How Can Social Media Help Us???
Why are we drawn to social media???
As parents, we are often too busy with working at our jobs, taking care of housework, and taking care of our children to stop and think about our lack of time for ourselves. We tend to put our family’s need for our attention about our own needs for adult interaction. I am guilty of this!!! I am responsible (for the most part), since I am the stay at home parent, of keeping everything running smoothly and making sure that things around the house get done. It doesn’t leave me with a lot of time for people outside of my home, but I do try to keep in touch with some close friends. I know that I am not the only one who is going through this kind of situation. Most stay at home parents are in the same predicament. When I have heard “Mom” for the millionth time in the past 5 minutes, I take a break and indulge in a trip to Facebook Land. It tends to be a quick road trip to Facebook Land, since I know there will be someone calling out “Mom” for another million round again shortly.
Social media is convenient in the fact that it allows us to be part of different groups and/or clubs, groups that are full of other people who are in the same situation as we are or like the same things as us. Personally, I am a member of a few parenting groups on Facebook. A couple groups are full of stay at home parents who, like me, feel like we are stretched way too thin and just need to talk and/or need advice. I am also in a few groups that pertain to parents of autistic children. These are great groups and I have found that sometimes it is easier to talk to these “friends” and I feel that since they are going through or have gone through the same thing that I am, I feel like I am understood. There is no judgement from other members in the group, only support and advice when it is asked for.
The benefits of social media
We are social animals by nature, as we do not favor well when we are all alone. We tend to seek out companionship, in one form or another. Social media is a huge help for those who are seeking companionships and/or friendships with others who have the same likes and dislikes as us. Social media is a handy tool that we are able to use to connect us with others around the globe. The groups that I am in, we share recipes, advice about vacation or day trips that are interesting for kids, advice for when the kids are sick, sharing pictures, and being able to answer other parent’s questions.
Homophily is the tendency to join or befriend others who have the same likes and interests as us. Because we are social by nature, we tend to search out others like us. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If you were a 30 something mom of 3, would you be comfortable discussing your hectic home life with a 20 something that has no children? Or would a dog lover have much to talk about with someone who disliked dogs? No, not a chance. I definitely would not feel comfortable venting about the stomach bug that one of my children happened to give to me to someone who wouldn’t understand just how contagious things are to us parents. We tend to befriend and keep close those who share our interests and are less likely to feel a close kinship with those so dissimilar to ourselves. It’s just how we as human beings work, how our brains work.
The use of platform algorithms
Most social media sites use algorithms to keep their users interested and to keep them using that particular social media site (Agrawal, 2016). I have a Facebook account and I will use this as a good example to explain platform algorithms. When I have a few quiet moments to myself, I tend to jump on Facebook to see if anyone has anything interesting to say or if anyone has shared anything interesting. Facebook uses information about my likes to fill my newsfeed with stories and articles from friends on my friends list and post that have been shared from members of the groups I am also a member of. Facebook also suggests different pages of different things that I may like, such as tattoo pages, different meme/parody pages, and other types of pages that I may be interested in. It also offers me a section of people that I possibly know so I can send them a friend request to add to my current friends list.
By using algorithms to ensure that social media users are happy and continue to use whichever platform we are using, this completes the agenda that these social media outlets set out to complete. This is a smart tactic, since it is easier to keep our interest and give us the urge to keep coming back again and again. If they didn’t use these tactics, we would definitely not waste what little time we have on something that did not interest us.
Agrawal, A., (2016). What do social media algorithms mean for you? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/04/20/what-do-social-media-algorithms mean-for-you/#8561c7fa5152