One of the common trending debates among psychologists and technology lovers is who is controlling what. The reason for making the statement is the current evidence showing the different transformations of the internet. The use of social media has not only changed the communication trends, but it has also revolutionized particular aspects of behaviour experiences. The current developments in technology have rendered useless the traditional forms of communication, especially face-to-face interactions (Gountas & Gountas, 2012). Now, billions of people can engage in conversations almost at once in their comfort. These sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and What Sapp have enabled people to build close relationships with friends, families, loved ones, and strangers with ease. Moreover, individuals have the freedom of writing and posting whatever they want on the sites. Since the tremendous technological advancements have become part of the society because of the popularity and commonality, it will be reasonable to explore the factors that motivate some people to use these sites more frequently than others. Particularly, the essay will assess the personality traits and the use of social media and vice versa.
According to research done by Ryan and Xenos (2011), the thirst for fame and narcissism is on the rise among young adults who are frequent internet users. Concerns have been raised about the relationship between individual traits and social networking (Guadagno & Muscanell, 2012). A majority of research have purported that the media and social media sites influence people and their personality aspects as well as behaviours because of the exposure to the resources. The Big Factor Model and the Five Factor Model suggest that personality traits be categorized under three domains. For instance, these traits include extraversion, introversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness.
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Publication by Correa, Hinsley, and Zuniga (2009) revealed that these five personality factors play a role in the frequency of engagement in social networking or not. Since most of the activities we do in life are multidirectional or bidirectional, the use of social media is a part of this too. The users of these social sites are highly likely to affect one's personality or behaviour. For example, an individual who is antisocial in real life might turn out to be the most active person on these sites. The fear or boredom related to interacting with people physically is channelled to the constant use of social media. In most cases, you will find out that the introverts are the most active in using social media.
Given the fact that social media sites are not oriented towards establishing anonymity but rather reaching others through actual identity, the transition from the real self as displayed to the society and the self-displayed to other users on the social sites is smooth. Because anonymity is rarely used on this sites, actual personality traits are openly shown to the “entire world” (Correa, Hinsley, and Zuniga, 2009). Extroverted individuals in the real world are more likely to use the social media sites. Interestingly, before the development of social media websites and chat applications, a majority of individuals hid their real identities especially those with introverted personalities. For instance, the studies revealed that these people created anonymous profiles for them to enjoy their conversation while still feeling comfortable in their isolation. This kind of environment was favourable for people with introverted personality because of the existing isolation knowing that no one would disturb them (Correa, Hinsley, and Zuniga 2009).
A study done by Alzahrani and Bach (2014) titled the Impact of Social Media on Personality Development revealed four main factors of social media that influenced the development of personality. These included a culture of popularity, fake standards of appearance, attention seeking behaviour, and prevalence of depression and anxiety. The culture of popularity is often common among adolescents and young adults. Most of the individuals in this age group have been known to post controversial pictures and status updates on the social media just to get the most likes, many shares and likes especially on Facebook. Erikson terms this stage as that of identity versus role confusion. Adolescents often strive to fit in as they seek their real identity as they use these social media sites. Some of them tend to forget their personal values when suing these sites, which might, in turn, change their personalities.
The culture of popularity has turned some of the introverted individuals to be outgoing on the social site. The number of friends people make on the social media platforms, the more social they become. For the past months, Facebook users have signed petitions to the application managers seeking for uplift in the maximum numbers of friends a person can make. Currently, the application allows the user to have a maximum of five thousand friends. However, one strategy that has been used is to introduce the “following” button. It helps billions of people connect even after they surpass the limitation of friends.
On the other hand, some of the users of social media sites have resolved to the use of seeking attention for their behaviour. Such behaviours are more likely to cause dependency and narcissism among the online users. A section of social media users perceives these sites to act as therapeutic platforms for their problems. Some come here to seek attention or ask for advice. Also, certain personalities are associated with the constant use of social media.
Consequently, social media has been found to cause depression and anxieties among some of its users. Let us not forget the fact that these sites have been known to perpetrate online bullying through intimidation and verbal abuse. Some victims of online abuse always end up falling into depression and become suicidal. Hence, these sites are capable of transforming the personality of users involuntarily. Closely related to this factor is the belief that whatever one posts on social media defines who they are. In most occasions, crimes have been able to be solved through tracking of social media sites. Besides, individuals who are suicidal or depressed have been known to update statuses that can provide hints to the police. Social media also influences the personality traits of people because they tend to model the behaviours of others. People with inferiority complex are more likely to fall victims. Some adolescents tend to admire the behaviours and livelihood of their peers through social media. This is not a bad thing to do. However, when the admirations are inappropriate, then tendencies such as stalking may arise.
In conclusion, individual’s personality and their behaviours that constitute personality influences and drives experienced throughout their lifetime influence their social media use. Simply, the people’s personalities influence how they respond to or use the social media sites. Taking the role of a stimulus, social media sites can make their subjects be drawn to them or not. People tend to use social media sites for different reasons. These reasons are often moulded by personality or not. In fact, for some users, their personalities are shaped by the use of social media.
Alzahrani, S., & Bach, C. (2014). The impact of Social Media on Personality Development. International Journal of Innovation and Scientific Research, 3(2), 111-116.
Correa, T., Hinsley, A. W., & De Zuniga, H. G. (2010). Who interacts on the Web?: The intersection of users’ personality and social media use. Computers in Human Behaviour, 26(2), 247-253.
Gountas, S., & Gountas, J. (2012). Personality Characteristics and Social Media Use.
Guadagno, R. E., Muscanell, N. L., Rice, L. M., & Roberts, N. (2013). Social influence online: The impact of social validation and likability on compliance. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2(1), 51.
Ryan, T., & Xenos, S. (2011). Who uses Facebook? An investigation into the relationship between the Big Five, shyness, narcissism, loneliness, and Facebook usage. Computers in Human Behaviour, 27(5), 1658-1664.