Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Only 3 Types of Social Media Users Exist, Because Over-Generalizing is Fun

What prompted this? Just armchair observations. I'm going to put on my Not-An-Expert-On-This-At-ALL Hat and tell you what I've noticed about most friends interacting online. Mainly on Facebook, actually. There are only three types of social media users. Seriously, just three.

If you couldn't tell, this is a non-scientific study, so it's based on... not much at all! I can say with confidence that this is 100% not accurate in any meaningful way, and that it's utter silliness, but it's fascinating to me. 

Here's what I see, to varying degrees - and there IS overlap! I most definitely have hybrid internet friends who are all 3 types, but mainly my friends fall into one category best.

The 3 Types of Social Media Users Are:

 

Entertainment Types

  • These are the friends who mainly share puns, jokes, cute animal videos, memes, quizzes, cat pics, delicious food, how-to videos, Mind-Blowing [insert whatever here], inappropriate stuff, movie trailers, whimsical fairy pictures, comics, things that make you go hmmm... the list goes on and on.
  • This category includes people who post pics of their cleavage and/or biceps, along with those who post pics of their new shoes, their fresh manicure, a night out on the town having fun, etc. 
  • Are they trying to entertain themselves as much as their followers? Maybe, but if their followers enjoy it, everyone wins!
  • Do these kinds of friends have have personal issues? Do they have strong opinions on Important Political Things and do they give to the needy and want to save the environment? Maybe, but unless they're a hybrid with one of the other two Internet Types, that isn't what they use social media for.
It's so broad a category!  The friend who shares videos of dogs falling asleep is in the same category as the friend committed to sharing every cosplay of Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. Why? Because the goal is to entertain.

Selfie-Level: Medium-to-High

Personal Sharing Types

  • Some of these are drama llamas, sharing TMI about their relationships or airing out dirty laundry.
  • Others are people struggling with severe life problems, trauma, health concerns, or psychological issues.
  • It can be positive or fun, like sharing a weight loss journey, or ALL the pregnancy details. Whereas non Personal Sharing Types might make a pregnancy announcement once and never mention it again, Personal Sharing Types will describe ultrasounds and cravings and the joy of those little kicks in the night.
Again, the category is broad. Opening up about a difficult journey through adoption... or ranting about a boyfriend - Personal Sharing Types find catharsis in talking publicly about what they're going through. Or they want to help friends who are going through something similar, or they find solidarity with others who understand their struggle. Maybe they just like to release their inner thoughts and opinions to the world for vindictive reasons. Whether it's about venting, causing drama, or bringing light to a very real personal issue, the goal is still the same: personal sharing.

Selfie-Level: Inconsistent (Drama Llamas = High; Life Struggle = Medium)

Platform Types

  • These peeps sometimes have an agenda. It could be to convert others to a religion, or rally friends to support a cause, or argue for their political beliefs.
  • Other times there isn't an agenda exactly, but a more general feel of, "The World Should Know" and they simply want to inform. Like a public service.
  • These kinds of posts can spark fun debates. Sometimes they breed vitriol and arguments.
Again, super broad. Because that's what this list is! Maybe Platform Types enlighten, or maybe they preach, but they use social media for content that is relevant to their cause. The internet is a tool that can help them make a difference. Others can be rallied to the cause!


Selfie-Level: Low-to-Medium, with selfie likelihood growing if the selfie can show support of their cause.

Hybrids

 

  • There are true hybrids and temporary hybrids, with temporary hybrids showing up more during a natural disaster or presidential election year. 
  • Having crossover posts a few times isn't really a hybrid. Because I'm making these rules up as I go along.
  • Someone mainly Entertainment who Hybrids with Platform is different than someone mainly Platform who Hybrids with Entertainment. Think about it. *sage nod*
From my very broad generalizations, Platform Types are the most likely to be hybrids. They may share personal issues to gain support for their cause. They may share memes, jokes, and other entertainment value posts in-line with one of their platforms. Sometimes they share an unaffiliated joke without some kind of cause or agenda. Most of the time though, they aren't sharing random butt jokes or gratuitous puppy videos. Their puppy video would have purpose! The puppy comforts sick veterans in a hospital or is being trained to sniff out toxic chemicals in orphanages.

Final Thoughts

As one would expect, my friends have evolved since I started getting to know them on the internet. Someone who initially posted nothing but sports-related jokes and cool merchandise from his favorite team gradually became the friend who champions autism awareness. I remember a pre-internet world when I would never have known that a colleague is also an incredible ballerina, or that my friend helps animal shelters and cares so deeply about fighting animal abuse.

Is there any point to categorizing my friends? None that come to mind, but I find it kind of fascinating. 


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