Friday, May 18, 2012

Publicly living in the implied presence of others

I will reserve POVs on the $104B valuation for other platforms, but want to praise the conceptual winner today: the validation of the social psychological being.
Today, we celebrate the IPO of the company, entity, and social force that has made explicit the previously invisible ways we communicate our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I realize this isn't the case for everyone, but saying "thoughts, feelings, and behaviors" is a scripted schema in my book, as memorized from the classic definition of social psychology,
The scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. (Allport, 1954)
In other words, when I think about Facebook and this script rolls off my tongue, I realize a less scandalous and/or money-making version of The Social Network might have depicted (a less entrepreneurial) Zuckerberg interviewing all social and personality psychologists, understanding the plight of observing people in labs, and deciding to revolutionize the way experiments are done.

The little code-- brains, and momentum that motivated 900M people to hop on and interact for us all to observe and engage with is social psychology's moment in the sun.

Facebook is a petri dish of social psychological experimentation. It's us proclaiming our identity to others as we are and as we want to be seen-- the seeds of social desirability, self-verification, social comparison. It's us leaving and perceiving behavioral residues as cues to our personalities. It's us demonstrating our psychological orientation to the world through language. It's a constant reminder of our need for belonging.  

Whether we have an illusion of transparency or control, suffer from the imposter effect, have egocentric biases, need social validation... some of my favorite psychological concepts, Facebook lets us express our social psychological selves and celebrate in others' expression.
Congratulations, Facebook!

No comments: