Social Networking

The Psychology of Social Networking

While some people are natural networkers, and have an easy time reaching out to others, many shy away from traditional networking opportunities because they see them as an unnatural and uncomfortable means of promoting themselves and connecting with others, especially with strangers. The Internet provides an opportunity for anyone to create an identity online, connect with friends, family and strangers alike, acquire knowledge, and share ideas and information without having to be physically present. Instead, one’s presence is represented on social media by shared comments, photos, videos, and other images.

Social networking is now integrated into the day-to-day lives of most people who use the Internet. The psychology of social networking explores the identities, relationships, communication techniques, and behaviors that develop from these connections. Psychologists look at how different people develop, maintain, and use their online presence and how they are affected by the technology that allows them to do so.

The Interconnections

Expanding your social network beyond your familiar circle of friends can have surprising benefits as social networking activities become socioeconomic opportunities, bringing fresh ideas through shared information and unexpected opportunities in the form of a job, an apartment, even a partner. Social networks provide limitless opportunities to connect with others who have cultural, political, religious and other interests similar to your own. The Internet provides tools for cultivating, managing, and capitalizing on those networks, allowing you to form an initial relationship with someone you've never met in person who not only enhances but could, in fact, change the direction of your life.

Offline Social Networks

Networking still happens offline, at social, professional, and work-related social events. Offline social networks differ in ways beyond a dependence on Internet connectivity. People behave and work together differently, communicate differently, and spend different amounts of time together when they meet offline than when they connect online. An individual’s online social network does not generally represent their “real life” social network. While a large network of friends and acquaintances is possible on social media platforms, many of these connections are weak ties; the amount of social support one has offline is likely to be more important to one’s ultimate feelings of life satisfaction and psychological well-being.

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