Why is the subject group important?
Many say that the strange environments around us are harmful and unknown, but the quote does not only suit the physical world, online environments could be the same too. As technology develops, electronic devices now offer numerous ways of sharing people’s information, despite the limitations in the physical world, e.g. distance, gaps between populations, and so on.
But as people are getting addicted to the online environment, a potential crisis slowly appears. The builders do not have the promise for the safety of online tools, causing people unaware of the risks of posting personal information. The circumstances are usually more serious in the teen population.
With that being said, the goal of this report is to combine my previous ppt report with new academic learning and research results together as a report paper, on the topic Posting Behaviors & Potential Risk.
Potential risks – People posting with high potential risks.
- 69% of teens regular receive personal messages online from strangers
- 64% of teens post photos or videos of themselves while more than half (58%) post info about where they live
- Females being the majority of posting personal photos or videos of themselves(70% vs 58%)
- Incidents of online harassments is higher(23%) among 16 and 17 year olds, while girls are more likely to get harassed than boys (21% vs 17%)
According to the data in d2l.org, female posters are facing more potential risks online, especially during the age between 16-17. In this report, I will be focusing on female users’ psychological and biological characteristics and social impact on both macro and micro scale.
Why should it be fixed?
Exposing yourself online is thrilling but unknown, as people’s social environment develops, we sometimes will trapped in one place, seek for the outside and more comfortable social zones.
There are two main reasoning why should we consider it a problem: The first is mentioned before, unknown risks online and the worries of the parents, since some of them weren’t able to use online tools smoothly. The second point is online harassment. Females are being the most likely victims and the online environment cannot promise the total safety of any user.
In order to profile the poster, I will use a classical figure that can represent the female poster population: Zoniel, a 17-years old high school girl with a well-shaped body. She is quite popular at school, affluent confident; according to herself, she can date whoever she wants. Recently she finds social media very entertaining and she gets a lot of appreciation online.
I used the example of Zoniel because I assume she has the most common characteristics every poster might possess; She is very confident about herself and knows exactly what she could gain by using social media. These are just two simple conditions for the subject of this paper. The first one is the requirements for receiving, and the second one ensures the progress.
Mental stage analysis
To locate the characteristics, I believe the psychological stage of mind should be located first, so I combined Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development Stages with Maslow’s Development Theory together to locate the mental stage of Zoniel and other posters like her.
As the Zeniel achieves Love/Belonging stage, she’s bound to seek the higher stages, which is the Esteem stage, where she’ll be longing to be respected and recognized by others. By posting selfies and pictures online, she can procure considerable ‘likes’ and ‘subscribes’ from strangers, which will fulfill her confidence needs.
Identity and role confusion
She was located in the Esteem stage, where the appropriate age is 13-21 years old. According to Maslow, that is when Zoniel will develop her self-esteem, confidence, and gain achievement and respect.
The fifth stage of Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is identity vs. role confusion, and it occurs during adolescence, from about 12-18 years. “As they transition from childhood to adulthood, teens may begin to feel confused or insecure about themselves and how they fit into society.”(Kendra Cherry, 2019). Teens like Zoniel at this age will develop cognition toward themselves, the most significant transition change is the change from self-picturing to identity. In the stage of self-picturing, the children can easily describe themselves on the level of simple characteristics, for example, “I am tall, my skin is yellow, I am bigger than my little brother”, etc. But when they developed self-identity, teenagers could be able to tell their personality characteristics and mental qualities. As it been said, Zoniel, who is 17, already owns the ability. “A result of this growing complexity of self and other description is that children start to view themselves as more or less capable within different domains of accomplishment. Their self-esteem – reflecting their feelings of personal worthiness” (Angela Oswalt Morelli). So self-identity plays an essential role in the case of Zoniel.
Ecological factors that affect the growth path and behavior pattern
Ecological and macro impact
On a macro scale, society and cultural impacts are included in the “Ecology” around us. There are two main social factors under the topic: the Media and Social influences.
The mass media, including all kinds of media, is the place where people are incentivized to post something distinctive and captivating.
- Mass Media: need and reward
Mass media is an efficient tool we use to cooperate with each other, it runs itself by benefiting the user and the supplier companies, the online environment secures the information safety of the users and helps to transfer their information so that they could spread widely.
When we are using social media platforms, we tend to believe that they are built to serve us, we sacrifice our precious time on it and it returns us good feelings and a sense of enjoyment. But apart from normal users, posters like Zoniel thinks differently; she would choose the best online platform, the most welcomed fans and viewers that might like her, and finally, she will post what’s considered her best onto the platform.
Above is an example of the reward from social media, top-rating pictures and posters will have the chance of receiving more highlights.
For ordinary users of the internet, the media doesn’t need anything from us, and we seem did not give anything back; but the posters are having a reinforcing relationship with the media: the media rely on the posters to gain more users and highlights, meanwhile the reward(views and likes) was given to the posters. Thus, the posters like Zoniel are serving the media which “serves” us, and they cannot be able to get what they want without the mass media.
- Main Stream and Cultural Norm
Cultural Norms are the shared expectations and rules from the people, it “inform members of a culture about accepted and expected behaviors.”(Myers 777). The realistic version of social norm is the so-called “Main Stream”. The main steam requires people to fit in the crowd, whether in the Aesthetic level, the value of things, or even reactions to the same thing. The concept of the mainstream is huge but it also can be small and constantly changing. When finding yourself in a group where people share the same expectations and values of things, you will feel more welcomed and accepted. And that is the mindset of the media builders – creating a mainstream figure and make most people buy it.
- Social Conformity
Conformity is the “act of adjusting our behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard”(Myers 763). According to Wikipedia, it makes individuals match their behaviors to group norms, politics, or being like-minded. Long story short, conformity influences the formation and maintenance of social norms and helps societies function smoothly and predictably due to the self-elimination of behaviors.
Act of conformity in Zoniel’s case
In the case of Zoniel, conformity is less obvious than the Cultural norm above, because social conformity can be anywhere and it is extremely common on the internet.
If you go to social media or short video platforms, you will see the waves of certain types of video/picture that has gone “viral”, which means that most of the people at that time likes it. And after the first post goes viral, the posters want to follow the style and produce the same kind of video, which in Chinese is 跟风&合拍. With the loving of the crowd, the posters could soon gain more followers and likes. In China, the fashion waves were mostly about clothes-changing and slow-motion(变装&慢动作), it benefits the most because the videos manifest the best part of the poster, it could be their beauty, their make-up skills or clothes.
To Zoniel, conformity is daily life, because, to gain views, her posts should fit the value of the viewers, which is the aesthetics of the majority.
Individual and micro impact
On the micro-scale, I am focusing on personal decision making and inner-personal diagnosis, for example, decision bias and neurotransmitters. The goal is to demonstrate my interpretation of Zoniel’s motivation and the rationality of common posters like her.
Opponent-Process theory of emotion: Motivation Analysis
According to opponent-process theory, when we experience an emotion, an opposing emotion will counter the first emotion, lessening the experience of that emotion. When we experience the first emotion on repeated occasions, the opposing emotion becomes stronger and the first emotion becomes weaker, leading to an even weaker experience of the first emotion. (McGraw-Hill 343)
The theory was mostly used on more explicit things at first, such as drug users and sports. Because they were the easiest to study on. But as more and more cases appear near our daily lives, looking back, this theory does suit the case of Zoniel.
The “a” and “b” processes are consequently and temporarily linked but were believed to depend on different neurobiological mechanisms
The primary emotions have remained constant because getting fans is always a thrilling process. However, as time goes by, the stimuli will diminish, which represents the decrease in experienced emotions.
As in the case of Zoniel, more fan is basically the Stimulus for future action. Likes and followers represent the things that brought Primary emotion(blue line), which is a sense of happiness and fulfillment of narcissism. The line in red is the Opponent emotion, it intersects with the primary emotion and brings it down a little bit, the progress of this is called opponent-processing. And finally, the Green line is the emotion we actually experience, it is the result of the counteraction between primary and opponent emotions.
Let’s use the progressing of a post from Zoniel as an example: After she posts on the internet for the first time, due to her unique, beautiful face and outstanding body, she shall gain likes from people she hasn’t met. She feels strong happiness at first which is the positive primary emotion, but she did not receive any obvious sense of upsetness or negative opponent emotion in any kind. According to my assumption, this happens because the subject hasn’t done a similar thing/experience before, due to the fact that the process is a learning process, one cannot experience the same thing she/he experienced after multiple times.
So according to the theory, once she began to post on a more daily scale, the primary emotion she receives will be less and less astonishing. From my perspective, when I see the likes and comments from a famous or somehow famous poster, most of the likes were from the fans, media users that have already subscribed the poster before. And if I put myself in the poster’s place, I wouldn’t feel surprised much. So according to the image above, after a certain time, the poster’s experienced emotion(green line) will not be as high as the first post. It is shown widely in China, the online video posters’ most wanted thing is the increase of fans, the real examples can be found on platforms like Tiktok and Instagram. Because they knew that remaining the old fans is not as practical as rasing amount of new fans. When Zoniel accepts the fact that she could gain 100 fans in 2 days, gaining only 5 fans the next day sounds not enough, so the circle went on…
Summary-Causes and Effects
This is a very simple loop drawn by me and my partner Johnson Chi.
The stimuli are the likes and subscribe from the viewers, they motivate and incentivize the poster to be more active due to the belief that “the more you post, the more likes you gain.” So as the posts were posted, sometimes there are opponent emotions, but the overall process is reinforcing. Self-confidence grows and people get addicted deeper.
To demonstrate the loop, please click on the image above.
Conclusion and solution
How can Zoniel’s case manifest the problem of all posters and what are the limitations?
I personally think that Zoniel is located as the posters who would use their face or body for a living, because the mainstream includes too many ways to get viral, for example, people could be comedians in order to get likes, people could do kind things and shoot videos about it to get hot. Zoniel only represents part of the poster population.
1. Spreading the ideas of immediate attention procurement and the longevity popularity
Although according to the social mainstream, there are a tremendous amount of new streams of videos for the posters to follow, people will essentially get tired of the poster, which is known as Aesthetic Fatigue. At the time when most followers got tired, it is hard for the poster to maintain the viewers as usual again. So Johnson and I offer the suggestion of “Looking further”.
For example, the famous guy in 抖音(Chinese Tiktok), 梅尼耶, has successfully transformed himself from a model-poster to an actor. Around the first half-year in 2020, the style of his videos was mostly about close changing and slo-mo, but he and his crew managed to transform him into the protagonist of short scary videos, such as a normal but suspicious guy from the neighborhood, finding a serial killer living by his house, stuff like that. Soon his views turned from 10w to 100-300w…
This is the first way we assume the poster can do, looking a bit further can help the poster from getting more and more addicted to sharing personal things.
2. Incentivize people to re-deliberate on their exploitation of endowed capitals and the continuous self-investments that are prone to facilitate durable successes.
This solution is more efficient at solving problems like these. By “Self-investing” we believe that the poster could be healthier, all things considered.
For people addicted to self-posting, I think telling them that long-term success is much valuable than short-term success is extremely important. Because according my teammate Johnson, no one can be young forever, and time is inevitable.
Some specific things to do:
- Set some goals that you want to complete before you die
- Acknowledge the position and importance of social media for you
- Make a list of what do you want the people to know about you and what do you wish not.
Myers, D.G. (2011). Myers Psychology for AP. Worth Publishers.
McGraw-Hill Education. (2019). 5 Steps to a 5: AP Psychology 2020. CodeMantra.
Cherry, K. (2019). Identity and Self-Esteem. Psychosocial Development Guide. www.verywellmind.com/identity-versus-confusion-2795735
McLeod, S. (2018). Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html#identity
Self-esteem and teenagers. ReachOut Parents. www.parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/self-esteem-and-teenagers
Self-esteem. Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. www.healthofchildren.com/S/Self-Esteem.html
Morelli, A.O. Identity and Self-Esteem. Child Development Theory: Middle Childhood (8-11). www.gracepointwellness.org/1272-child-development-theory-middle-childhood-8-11/article/37688-identity-and-self-esteem