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The psychology behind social networks: the code of unwritten behavior

The psychology behind social networks: the code of unwritten behavior

May 2, 2024

Social networks are a means of social communication that focuses on establishing contact with other members through the Internet. This technological advance has given us the opportunity to forge new relationships that sometimes end up becoming important friends in our lives.

We went back to the mid-90s when they appeared AOL (America Online) and BBS (Bulletin Board System), the first two social websites in the history of the Internet. The first of them has been in the doldrums for years, or as we would say on social networks, "it has gone out of style". And is that in this changing world few will last more than a decade.

The second is a system that allowed in its day to create the first forums and nowadays it is still used by millions of people, even having been surpassed in functionalities by its competitors.

A paradigm shift: The weirdos

The fact that we all use social networks leads us to think that first, if you do not use them, you are different from the rest . We can all check that in class we had that partner who has no social profile and we look at him as the "weirdo", since he is not up to date, but really maybe he does not have the need or has not had the opportunity, however this leads us to judge him when we sometimes do not know him.

Social networks today are used more than two hours on average per person, that means that we have stopped doing things to dedicate our time to interact and create communities on the Internet . What has changed and what motivations have led us to do such a thing?

The motivations that we have when giving "Like"

How many times has it happened to us that we have clicked "Like", "Share" or "Re-Tweet" someone because of the mere fact that we want them to remember us or to return the interaction when we upload a photo or share a state?

Let's not kid ourselves, we've all done it more than once.

This fact is due to the fact that social networks feed our ego and our self-esteem , and in this world where there are more and more individuals, we need to satisfy our needs in some way and stand out above the average to achieve "being someone".

Social networks give us the opportunity to put on a mask and be another person (or pretend to be who we are not) or for example also, to create anonymous or false profiles and make new friends. All these opportunities are used to socialize, an objective that is still the original goal of social networks.

To be "popular" in social networks is to be "real" in real life?

A computer engineer conducted an experiment a little over a year ago, creating a computer program that performed the "Like" action to each photo that appeared for his "feed" on Instagram.

That experiment caused that:

  • Every day I got 30 new followers
  • You will be invited to more parties
  • More people stopped him on the street because they saw him on Instagram

But the most surprising thing and that supports the aforementioned theory, is that his friends asked him to upload more photos because they felt obliged to return these "Like" that he had been giving in an automated way and without criteria.

Human beings are social animals by nature and in many cases we feel obliged to return the actions received in networks

That same effect we can see applied on Twitter, where people use the technique of massively follow other users, hoping that these without knowing anything return the interaction, and that works quite well because the ratio is quite high.

Following random users on Twitter, it has a return tracking of between 10 and 30% depending on the interests of the users. There is the data.


Social networks help increase (or decrease) the ego and self-esteem of its users. Many of those users they feel indebted to the people who have followed them or interacted with them , creating a "code of behavior" that is not written anywhere but that has been extended in social networks and is accepted by the vast majority of users.

The popularity of people in social networks is transmitted today to reality, obtaining these more power to influence others.

As last insight, we can say that the online world (Internet, Social Networks ...) and the offline world (real life) are coming together more and more and will end up being treated as a single entity.

Etiquette: "Mind Your Manners" 1953 Coronet Instructional Films; Social Skills, Behavior... (May 2024).

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