Social Networking & Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered about the reasons behind the success of social media? What made Facebook become a $80 Billion valued business? Why does Facebook have more than 700 million users? Why do you have over 5 million images uploaded on Flickr every day? Why are over 900,000 thousand blogs posted daily? More than 50 million tweets on Twitter, and more than 2 billion videos are served on Youtube in the same time frame (Source – Internet 2010 in numbers). What is behind all that success? I think the answer lies in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs..!!!

Psychologist Abraham Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and his subsequent book, “Motivation and Personality”. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often displayed as a pyramid.

  • Physiological needs are the requirements for human survival. They include breathing, food, water, shelter, sex, clothing, sleep and comfort.
  • Safety needs can be seen as a way to meet tomorrow’s physiological needs. They include personal and financial security, health, order, law and protection from elements.
  • Love and belonging needs are about social interactions. We don’t want to go through life alone. Social needs include friendship, love, intimacy, family, community, belonging and relationships.
  • Esteem needs include self-esteem as well as recognition from others. Esteem can come in the form of achievement, status, prestige, recognition, mastery, independence and responsibility.
  • Self-actualization needs relate to becoming more than what we are, and they can come from peace, knowledge, self-fulfillment, realization of personal potential, personal growth and peak experiences.

According to Maslow, if you try to satisfy the needs of one level in the hierarchy without having first met the needs of the prior level, your place in the hierarchy will be unstable. You can’t be expected to work well on a team (level 3) if you’re awaiting medical test results to determine whether you have cancer (level 2).

Lower levels in the hierarchy serve as the foundation for higher levels. If your foundation shakes, then you get pulled back down to a lower level to stabilize your foundation before moving back up the hierarchy. If not, you’re led to thoughts and feelings of stress and anxiety.

This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other needs. So how is that related to Social Media?

Humans are social beings with social needs. We need each other to grow as well. We exist solely by the virtue of networks of relations in which we stand to other human beings of our kind. We are partially created by other people and our actions and interactions are jointed actions.

Social Networking in this case would be a platform on which network of relations are enhanced. Networks are created and the followers you have and you follow are people you have shared interest with; they are ‘humans beings of our kind.’

We all have social needs and to have a good, successful and happy life we need to socialize with others. And because humans are by nature social beings it is good to live in a society in which the social life is mostly based on a community. Social life in a community is a necessity for a human’s complete flourishing as a human being.

Mutual admiration between two human beings is a necessity. This moral admiration for one and another is essential in friendships and taking advantage of these friendships can make a person fully human. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs addresses this fact. After physical and safety needs we all have our social needs. According to Maslow these social needs involve emotionally based relationships such as friendship and intimacy.

Similar to Maslow’s pyramid, in the social media counterpart we have to complete our “basic needs” before moving up to our “social needs” ultimately reaching our social optimization. Are your basic needs in sync with your social media needs? Where do you stand and what are you doing to move upwards? If you’re still having trouble understanding social media, maybe you should consider your needs and what you need to do to fulfill them. Think About It!


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