When it comes to Social Media just remember that technology changes but people stay the same. The behaviour's social. The out-take is esteem"
When the Wikipedia entry for Social Media contains in its opening paragraph the phrase," social media are relatively inexpensive and accessible tools that enable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information", you know that we've got a problem on our hands. So much time, energy and attention seem to have been spent talking about Social Media technologies that many have missed the point: without people none of that means anything.
Maybe a little more time thinking about the fundamentals of human needs and behaviour and a little less time trying to second guess the new Twitter the more interesting the end results will be?
By nature human beings are relational creature. We need each other, we define ourselves through our relationships with others. In 1934 Abraham Maslow codified his research on the essential human needs, he argued that there are 5: Physiological (breathing, sleep, food, sex etc), Safety (personal, financial, health), Social (friendship, intimacy, family), Esteem (self-esteem, self-respect, belonging) and Self-Actualization.
What is the behaviour demonstrated on Social Media platforms such as blogs, Flickr, YouTube and Flickr but "Social" and "Esteem". "Social" in as much as digital technology allows connections and enables liked-minded to come together, whether it's a passion for gaming (of which Prof Monica Whitty has written extensively about the romances that real-world relationships that blossomed in the virtual world), or more disturbing passions such as Armin Meiwes's who found a "well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed" through the website TheCannibalCafe.com - Social Media is merely the platform for connecting and sharing.
Social Media also fulfils on the need for Esteem, it delivers on the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. It is through the comments and links of others that individuals online gain authority and influence in the social space and thereby increase their own levels of esteem. The behaviour is social. The out-take is esteem. The fundamentals of human nature remain constant.