NEWS10 July 2014

Social media psychology – why ‘Like’ is all about recognition

News UK

UK — The persona we project in our online social worlds is carefully considered and vital to our sense of self recognition argued psychotherapist and academic Aaron Balick at Connected World.


“We shouldn’t think that way but we do because we’re fundamentally relational” said Balick.

He referred to psychoanalyst Jessica Benjamin’s definition of recognition being about a person’s need to ‘affirm, validate, acknowledge, know, accept, understand, empathise, identify, find..’ So many of social media’s actions – from shares to retweets, upvotes to comments – are motivated by this need for recognition. “Online is a really great example of what egos are doing and what they need,” said Balick explaining how social media appeals to the outward facing aspect of the ego.

The consequence is, it casts a shadow: there is the seen (the idealised version of ourselves we project and promote) and the unseen (the more shameful side, our deficits, what we don’t want people to see).

He argued that even the selfie – the online phenomenon of 2013 – may look spontaneous but “this is paradox as a lot of care goes into it”.

“There is no single self; they are all presentations and aspects of the self. Egos are performative – outward facing and acting and people are invested in their outward facing identity online,” said Balick.


1 Comment

9 years ago

This is a really interesting. We did a research study late last year on this subject. We followed half our sample on social media first, then depth interviewed them - and the other half of the sample the other way around - depth interview first and then followed them on social media, This allowed us to compare how they ‘projected’ themselves online versus in the real world. The results are very much in line with this article - but in much more detail. Take a look.

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