The Psychology of Social Sharing

If you have ever cyber-stalked a stranger’s wedding photos, screen-grabbed a hairstyle of someone you have never met or posted a gym workout to Facebook just to prove you went – then this post is for you.

Hello. My name is Kate, and I am a social stalker.

The Internet loves us for this exact reason – everything we do online is a form of stalking: from re-pinning, re-posting and re-tweeting. I can honestly say I have learned more skills by browsing content online than I did during my twelve years of school. I know the best Facebook pages to go to for fitness advice, the best Twitter handles to follow for fashion and beauty advice and the best boards to follow on Pinterest for décor and gardening tips.

What is it about this social sharing phenomenon that has the world using the Internet like it’s a drug? For me personally, I am inspired daily by the amazing content other people create and share every single day. When I see average people doing exceptional things it’s like a virtual kick up the backside for me – I too want to do exceptional things. When Felix jumped from Space I can guarantee that not many people went ‘meh’ and forgot about it. Somewhere, that act of bravery (or stupidity for those with acrophobia) sparked a small flame in everyone’s hearts and minds.

For some it’s as simple as pinning a weight loss story, which leads them to working out, eating healthy, and losing weight. For others, it’s learning precious conception advice from communities and starting a family. Regardless of how people use the Internet, the majority of us use it to better and empower ourselves. There is something pretty amazing about sharing a success story, and having the world support you in return.

A very popular movement in social sharing, and one of the platforms which stands out for me, is a local weight loss community named ‘Sleek Geek’. The brainchild of Elan Lohmann, the mission for him was a personal one – to lose weight and get healthy by including those around him for motivational support. It turns out that he wasn’t the only one who wanted to tackle the challenge. Hundreds of people joined and committed to working together to get healthy. The group has now taken off so much that Elan has quit his corporate job, and taken up Sleek Geek as a full time career. The concept humanises weight loss, allows you to share your stories, your successes and failures, and let’s you work towards a personal goal within a group dynamic.

Sleek Geek is just one of the many platforms designed for social sharing out there. Five, ten years ago if you wanted to achieve something you found a friend and used them as your buddy, your sponsor. Nowadays we embrace virtual friends online and join in a cause with them. There is a reason why so many apps post our progress to social sites – we crave that recognition from doing something ‘more’ – whether it’s going to gym, buying a new house or getting a new job – sharing is caring. And we want to share it with the world.

Do you know what gets me up every morning to go training? Knowing that I have told several thousand people online that I will be racing Half Iron Man next year. With that kind of pressure on me, there is no way I won’t be doing everything in my power to finish that race.

*Post originally published on www.cerebra.co.za

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