This week, I came across an interesting article in Time Magazine about “the psychology of Facebook profiles.” The article stated:
“Given the online forum of Facebook to create whatever public persona you’d like, it would seem logical that people might portray an idealized version of themselves—putting up their most attractive photos, editing down their thoughts to the most clever and pithy before posting them in a status update, carefully choosing favorite books and movies to portray a certain sophistication. Not so, say researchers from the University of Texas at Austin. Instead of using Facebook to create rose-tinted portraits of themselves, more often people’s Facebook profiles reflect their authentic personalities, with all of the quirks, funny faces and moodiness they entail.”
I found the piece particularly relevant for a few reasons. First, this study is really legitimizing the pay-per-click advertising, which posts relevant ads on an individual’s screen based on interests, according to their profiles. Having quantifiable data that supports the idea that most profiles accurately portray their demographic information, personal behaviors and interests will certainly help marketers sell this strategy.
Second, I’ve had many discussions with colleagues about the 1-9-90 theory (the majority of chatter online comes from one percent of the population, 9 percent of the population are somewhat vocal on the Internet, and the remaining 90 percent keep mum—thus presenting an unbalanced reflection of consumer sentiment when it is based solely on online commentary). I’m happy to see that this topic is addressed in the third paragraph.
“Not all personality traits transfer equally to the internet, however, Gosling points out. While extroverts are consistent, whether in person or on Facebook, nueroticism is more evident in person than it is online.”
However, as more and more people each day are becoming more familiar with and active on social media sites, the gap may close.
More and more, we are relying on the Internet as a primary communication tool, both professionally and personally. We are able to conduct business with a global team from every continent participating at the same time. We are able to catch up with college friends on a daily basis and maintain relationships no matter the location. With so much time and energy dedicated to the site, especially when interacting with others, it makes sense that the majority of people want to project their true selves on digital platforms like Facebook.
Do you agree? Does your profile reflect who you really are?