Community connection via social media

// Posted by on 05/23/2015 (5:57 PM)

In the spring of 1985, the first online community, known as The Well, was born. The Well was a communal dwelling, an intimate gathering where nearly everyone held a stake in almost every discussion topic. It was a place of words, and semi-private interactions that mattered. In today’s fast-paced world, online communities are still being used by individuals to connect with like-minded people to share their thoughts on a never-ending array of topics. Many use social media to communicate with friends and strangers, sharing their thoughts, photos, links, and even facilitating social and political change. The protests in Tunisia, which spawned the Arab Spring, were fueled and organized by social media.

Social media has the potential to link individuals from different cultures together into one global village. Interactions happen within seconds of sending and receiving messages making it an attractive medium in our fast-paced world. Social media lets individuals establish and maintain relationships and promotes a sense of interconnectedness with our culturally diverse world. Today, social media has transformed into an almost daily need for many individuals that seem to struggle to achieve a sense of belonging to something larger than them. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the third need, after obtaining physiological and safety needs, is belonging. Maslow’s third need supports that individuals desire a sense of belonging through support from relationships with others. Essentially, social media provides this opportunity where individuals can communicate with others via virtual communities on the Internet.

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Ginger said...


As I read your post I was shaking my head in agreement. I thought it all makes perfect sense. We want to belong. How many times have we gotten excited when we have received a friend reques or gotten an email from someone? It reminds me of the movie, You’ve Got Mail! Here is a scene that I think best depicts what we are talking about. We all want to feel as though we belong to something, that our thoughts matter, and because of our connections that we matter.

The flip side of this is the friend request we get from someone from high school that we avoided like the plague. Oh yeah, 20 years has passed and I have forgotten how mean you are, think not! Friendship request, DENIED! But wait, don’t you sometimes feel guilty for doing this? I do.

The WELL which was a continunation of the Whole Earth Catalog started the online community that we are all a part of today. We can now buy a house and look for love all in the same place! We can also freak ourselves out by looking up our symptoms on WebMD!

Facebook is so popular because it is a one stop shop for most of those needs. There is an algorithm or 2 in place at Facebook. If you look up roses on the internet the next time you are on FB there is an advertisement for roses. It is the mainstreet community that we used to shop. It is where everyone knows your name, your mother’s maiden name, and your credit card information.

// 05/23/2015 at 6:47 pm

Lois said...

Hi Jessie,

Your post is thoughtful and well written. I see the connection to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and I think you made a unique connection by introducing this example. When I studied Maslow I thought that each need built upon the other like a staircase. Once the physiological need was satisfied, the safety and security would follow, then love and belonging, etc. My question for you is do you see the WELL in its day and social media today as fulfilling the 4th and 5th level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Do you think self-esteem and self-actualization can be achieved through the medium that the WELL offered and the mediums offered today for communicating with others (such as Facebook, chatting, texting, etc.)? I definitely see a connection and am curious what you think?

Your analogy of Maslow and the WELL is very creative!

// 05/23/2015 at 9:37 pm

David said...

I like the idea of the global village. It nicely expresses how the Internet creates community — not just on a local scale, but globally. With the Internet, anything and everything are connected. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is good, in fact, Marshall McLuhan noted that the global village “ensures maximal disagreement on all points because it creates more discontinuity and division and diversity under the increase of the village conditions.”

When you put a lot of people together who all have different ideas and opinions a state of discordance is inevitable.

Something else I really enjoyed about McLuhan’s idea of the global village was his comparison of the global village and the inter-connectivity of the Internet and other new communications systems with the human nervous system. It reminds people of the living and constantly changing nature of the Internet. It’s really kind of a fascinating metaphor.

// 05/23/2015 at 11:01 pm