The medium is my message

2010-12-03 11:38

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the third layer is Love and Belonging.

As the cliché goes: “No (wo)man is an island,” and in general, most of us want to belong to something to feel a part of something larger than ourselves.

We form cliques as we traverse life, creating crews of friends, ­colleagues and fans.

We participate in activities and hold those up to show we are different and special.

We support football teams, ­follow specific brands and go to ­certain places – all as a reflection of who we feel we are and how we try to project ourselves.

Look at the passion that Steve Jobs’ groupies have for Apple ­products. Look at how Arsenal supporters define themselves.

Look at how drivers of Range Rovers carry themselves when they step out of their cars.

This is something we all manifest and do, whether consciously or not.

Social media, as it penetrates all aspects of our lives, emphasises this need to separate ourselves in fascinating ways.

Twitter is about engagement, conversation, discussion; and often good, old-fashioned nonsense talk.

Because of its form – 140 characters per tweet – it does require an attention to detail, ­clarity and tone when writing, even if it isn’t practised. While one can TwitPic, and so on, the key to Twitter is primarily your words and links.

Facebook, on the other hand, with its multiple applications, facility to upload pictures, videos, links to events and tags comes with a lot more noise and is, to a certain extent, more about the ­personal interaction – although its use for business, brands and ­personalities is on the rise.

What I find fascinating about the evolution of social media is how Maslow’s Love and Belonging Need manifests itself.

Somehow, somewhere and, for some, why (yes, I know it is bad grammar), people on Twitter have a tendency to look down on Facebook people, ­although most people on the one platform are often on Facebook as well.

By shifting to a character-based social media platform, there is an elitist attitude that seems to have formed because the forced ­“discussion” on Twitter seems ­overly ­intellectual.

I never quite understand this. I use each platform for different reasons.

They are just different ways of engaging with people.

I love Twitter for the direct and ­immediate engagement.

I love ­Facebook for the ability to re­connect, briefly or not, with people who played a part in my life.

I recently came across my old ­biology teacher from high school. It is fulfilling to know that he is out there; well, still teaching; still positively influencing young people’s lives in the way he did mine.

I love that I can check on my friends from primary school and see that, in the same way that I’m doing okay, so are they. It provides me with some kind of comfort.

We feel the need to belong. It is human. Let’s not make it a reason to separate and create unnecessary ­division.

» Baffoe is editor of Destiny Man

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