Whilst being a genuinely sucky year all round, 2016 has seen the culmination of the "look at me / look at me!" culture. Or, as I like to think of it, the Cult of Recognition.
The Kardashians are the ultimate example of this. If it gets them 5 minutes more publicity, they are into it. Even at the expense of others. Nowhere is the phenom more obvious than on Instagram. But before I get into that, let me expand on my own experiences.
Facebook for me is a wonderful way to keep in touch with current friends, reconnect with old friends, and even make some new ones. And yes, I will admit, I get a little thrill when a posting of mine or a photo gets a few likes. Why? For me I guess it's nice to have my friends staying current with me, and yes, there is a little part of me that goes "Does that mean you a little more popular than your socially awkward self would think?"
That last part - me being socially awkward (And I am aware) - will never have me popular so this will be a social burden I will never have to worry about. Lucky me.
But there is clearly a bug for people who desperately wish to be popular - socially or professionally - and they hunt it with an almost ravenous hunger. It's nice to be recognised by your friends or to have them interested in something that is going on in your life, but to be hunting recognition to the point of making it almost a full time job eludes me.
There are people who may have started off that way - Davey Wavey is a good example of this - but have molded it into a medium with a message. This can be a positive thing. Then there are those who post to try to achieve and/or maintain relevance - Kardashians again.
Personally, I would be very interested in knowing the psychology of these people. Whilst a good percentage may be possessed of a normative mental state; for the other percentage are they trying to heal / compensate / etc for something that is missing / defective / injured in their lives? Does the external recognition provide a form of diversionary type of therapy for their lives? Does it take the pain away from something that is harsh in their life?
Personal share - I do admit to a little buzz when someone I don't know likes a photo or post of mine on Instagram, having just seen it in the public postings area.
Is the buzz addictive? Could it be that the buzz of people liking, becoming the buzz of hundreds or thousands of people liking, genuinely become an addiction? Could I be on to something here?
Psychologists do believe that "attention" can prove to have similar effects to a drug. Though not as extreme a physiological reaction. If a large enough BUZZ - think 15 minute fame kind of thing like The Voice/ American Idol etc - can people become addicted to that kind of reaction and seek to extend the high? We have all seen people from shows like Big Brother etc attempt to maintain a presence after the show, many of whom fail. The question was also asked if it is the $$$ they continue to maintain, or the social high they get by being recognised at a high level.
Personally, I find this interesting. Certainly the cult of recognition was spurned in part by the ease of putting ones self out there that is the Internet. Even if the cult of recognition was alive and well before it, the medium has expanded its reach to a point of globality.
I wrote this post in response to a friend who was finding himself overwhelmed by the "look at me" culture of Facebook / Instagram and his frustration with other users and how they almost demand your attention - and in some cases, question your loyalty when you don't click LIKE.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Shabbat Shalom everyone.