Social Validation in Social Media, Why We Need It?

Why must people wake up every morning and feel obligated to post a picture of their coffee and then after a few hours proceed to update their story on what we’re doing? What’s the purpose? What are people hoping to gain out of sharing every detailed aspect of their life with others on social media?

As humans we seek validation. We live in an era where people are actively seeking some sort of validation through social media. When one posts a selfie, they want some sort of flattering comments or a certain amount of likes. I mean, why else would you post a picture of yourself? In the race of getting more likes and comments, people keep posting more. “I want people to like my pictures because it gives me a sense of satisfaction”. “I want people to acknowledge and appreciate my presence on social media by following me”. this will be the type of response that people will give you if you asked them why the post so much nonsense in Social Media 24/7.

what if i told you that it was design this way to control and manipulate society?

Here are some of Facebook founders have to say abut it:

Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker

Facebook’s founders knew they were creating something addictive that exploited “a vulnerability in human psychology” from the outset, according to the company’s founding president Sean Parker.

Parker, whose stake in Facebook made him a billionaire, criticized the social networking giant at an Axios event in Philadelphia this week. Now the founder and chair of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Parker was there to speak about advances in cancer therapies. However, he took the time to provide some insight into the early thinking at Facebook at a time when social media companies face intense scrutiny from lawmakers over their power and influence.

Parker described how in the early days of Facebook people would tell him they weren’t on social media because they valued their real-life interactions.

“And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be,’” he said.

“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying,” he added, pointing to “unintended consequences” that arise when a network grows to have more than 2 billion users.

“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said.

He explained that when Facebook was being developed the objective was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content.Advertisement

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

Parker, who previously founded the file-sharing site Napster, joined the Facebook team in 2004 five months after the site had launched as a student directory at Harvard. Parker saw the site’s potential and was, according to Zuckerberg, “pivotal in helping Facebook transform from a college project into a real company”.

In 2005, police found cocaine in a vacation home Parker was renting and he was arrested on suspicion of possession of a schedule 1 substance. He wasn’t charged, but the arrest rattled investors and he resigned shortly after.

Thanks mostly to his brief stint at Facebook, Parker’s net worth is estimated to be more than $2.6bn. He set up the Parker Foundation in June 2015 to use some of his wealth to support “large-scale systemic change” in life sciences, global public health and civic engagement.

Parker is not the only Silicon Valley entrepreneur to express regret over the technologies he helped to develop. The former Googler Tristan Harris is one of several techies interviewed by the Guardian in October to criticize the industry.

“All of us are jacked into this system,” he said. “All of our minds can be hijacked. Our choices are not as free as we think they are.”

Ex-vice President of Facebook Chatham Palihapitiya


Former Facebook vice president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya said that social media is “eroding the core foundations of how people behave” and that he feels “tremendous guilt” about creating tools that are “ripping apart the social fabric.” 

During a talk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in November, Palihapitiya echoed the words of other Facebook dissenters who have recently taken their guilt and grievances public. (h/t The Verge)

“You don’t realize it, but you are being programmed

“The things that you rely on, the short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created, are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistrust,” he said. 

His fear is that bad actors can manipulate large groups of people, and that as users, we compound the problem in our quest to create an idealized version of ourselves: 

We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals—hearts, likes, thumbs up—and we conflate that with value, and we conflate it with truth. And instead what it really is is fake, brittle popularity that’s short-term and that leaves you even more—admit it—vacant and empty before you did it, because then it forces you into this vicious cycle where you’re like “What’s the next thing I need to do now because I need it back?”

Palihapitiya agreed that “in the back, deep, deep recesses of our minds” they knew something bad could happen.

Palihapitiya’s comments last month were made a day after Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, criticized the way that the company “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social-validation feedback loop” during an interview at an Axios event. Parker had said that he was “something of a conscientious objector” to using social media, a stance echoed by Palihapitiya who said that he was now hoping to use the money he made at Facebook to do good in the world. “I can’t control them,” Palihapitiya said of his former employer. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that shit. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that shit.” He also called on his audience to “soul-search” about their own relationship to social media. “Your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed,” he said. “It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re going to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”

Are we too late to break this vicious cycle?

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