Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Feeling Like You Belong: Are You Included?

Having the feeling of being left out can do a lot of negative things to a mind.  Feeling included would have the opposite effect.  Of course, it is better to feel like part of the group.  Being the cool kid or the adult who is needed is something many humans strive for. Sharing these parts of yourself on social media brings a whole other level to belonging.    

Sharing a relationship status on Facebook can make you feel important.  I'm sure you've heard "Facebook Official" before.  For those of you in the back, to be "Facebook Official", it means that once your relationship is on Facebook, its finally "real."  This is one of many ways a person can feel a sense of belonging on social media.  Another is by your profile picture.  Individuals on Facebook who display a profile picture with their partner have been known to feel more secure in their relationship (Steers, Overup, Brunson & Acitelli, 2016).  Showing a unified front as a couple can help a person feel protected as part of a couple instead of being alone.  

Being part of a group can also lead to that confidence that comes from being part of the group.  I can think back to when I was around 21 years old, belonging to an elite group of friends who liked to gather in a college town.  We communicated through a website that one of the people in the group made.  Back in 2005, it was a cool thing!  Being part of that group was everything!  Chatting online and then seeing the people out later that night or over the weekend was something many of us looked forward to.  It was that sense of belonging and being together that we hanged onto.  
The more you interact and engage with someone on social media, the more you will see them in your news feed.  We've learned that an algorithm control who you see and how often you see them.  For example, if you comment on a friend's pictures of shared articles, they are going to show up with close to every post they make.  If you have a friend who posts but you keep scrolling on by, eventually the algorithm will believe you do not want to see that person in your news feed and hide them from you.  Wohn, Carr, & Hayes (2016) shared that the more a person interacts with a post, the more the poster starts to feel included or popular.  Leaving a "like" or comment on a photo can do a lot to help the self-esteem of the person who posted it.  

Feeling as though you belong and connected is a great feeling.  We've established that social media can make you feel like you're part of the in-crowd or so alone.  My advice to you is if you are feeling like you might not be included.... learn to include yourself!  

Steers, M.-L. N., Øverup, C. S., Brunson, J. A., & Acitelli, L. K. (2016). Love online: How relationship awareness on Facebook relates to relationship quality among college students. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(3), 203–216.

Wohn, D. Y., Carr, C. T., & Hayes, R. A. (2016). How affective is a "like"?: The effect of paralinguistic digital affordances on perceived social support. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(9), 562–566.

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