Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 23, 2010 1:55 PM

I'm A Creep

What is it about the human condition that makes us interested in the personal and public business of one another?

People would like to have you believe that they have, indeed, evolved beyond the point of needing the public's attention. If those same people have a Facebook profile, Twitter feed or have uploaded (or even watched) a video to YouTube, they're lying to you. Like all people (except for those who are really cut-off from society or off the grid), Social Media proves one thing magnificently well: no matter what we do, it's important to have the attention of other people, and that no matter what we do, we like to see what others are up to.

I wish I was special.

What is really happening when you post a photo to Facebook? What about a tweet on Twitter? What about when you broadcast your location via Foursquare? You're looking for attention and you're looking for some kind of recognition/acknowledgement from your social graph. Many people will read this and think that's a negative thing. It isn't. Take a quick re-look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs and you'll quickly be reminded how important love, belonging, esteem and self-actualization is to our personal development. Social Media has an amazing way to solve the "look at me!" internal dialogue that we all have.

I want you to notice.

We don't just post and share things for ourselves (don't kid yourself). We post things to get people to notice us. If we didn't, we would simply call those we really wanted to connect to and would keep all of our Social Media private and by invite-only (and, even then, it could be argued that you're still posting for attention and acknowledgment). On top of that (or if you think you are above that), let's say you're not creating or publishing content to garner any attention, you're still creeping on other people. You're looking to see people's profiles and pictures on Facebook. When you see a small avatar of someone on Twitter, you click on it to see what it looks like bigger (especially if you think that they might be good looking). There's a reason so many pieces of content (mostly images and videos) are being uploaded and shared at such a mass amount online. We like to creep. We like people to creep on us.

Whatever makes you happy.

From gossip and soap operas to professional wrestling and reality television, we love following and burrowing ourselves in the lives of others. So, why is it any shock that Facebook has over 500 million accounts? If given the choice of following a soap opera or having a peek inside the lives of people we know (on whatever level of quality), it shouldn't surprise anyone (not in the least) that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc... continue to grow flourish. It's fascinating to hear people say that they would prefer it if brands and marketers were not a part of this. The truth is that we live in one of the most branded generations ever, and that brands play an integral part of who we are, and how we communicate and connect to the world... and there's nothing wrong with that.

It turns out that I like to watch. And so do you. I'm a creep. And so are you. Have you ever stopped to wonder why?

By Mitch Joel