After creating a profile, the next step we take on social media is making connectionns. Hence Chapter 3 of The Psychology of Social Media is about how we connect with people online – friends, family, and everyone else.
It begins with a case study on the ‘ice bucket challenge’ which showed the power of connecting with others on social media to create positive effects.
However, this chapter shows that the psychology of connecting with people online is considerably more complex. For example, research shows that Facebook and Snapchat have different social benefits for their users, in terms of maintaining either close bonds or loose acquaintances. It also explores Dunbar’s numbers with regard to adding more friends and followers may not improve access to emotional support.
Considering the groups within our connections brings us to context collapse: because we have different social contexts mixed within our social media connections, and no certainty about who is paying attention at any one time, we struggle to imagine who our audiences actually are. This lack of insight into social media connections, and potential frictions within them, leads to a discussion of the social network characteristics of cyberbullying.
Finally, Chapter 3 reflects on how we might refrain from spreading ‘fear of missing out’ – FOMO – amongst those most susceptible to it in our connections.