Why People Share
There are myriad reasons why people share stuff, and all of them have to do with human connection and relationships.
Recently, Twitter started asking people if they wish to read the article they’re about to share.
Come on, you’d be silly to think that people bother reading an entire article before retweeting it. To most of them, the article title and the excerpt will suffice if the text matches what they stand for. They like it, they agree with it, they retweet it.
It’s the same thing with music. Why do you share the music you listen to? Because you want people to see you’re jamming to *insert cool band here* and that you have awesome taste. Maybe no one will approach you with a “hey, that’s great stuff, man”, but you don’t care. You’ve gotten your point across.
If someone -- anyone, for that matter -- comments on your music taste, that’s a bonus. You may have found a person you can spend hours talking to about something you enjoy. All because you shared your opinion.
Still, sharing things online goes beyond just giving people a peek at what you fancy.
As Always, Psychology Can Explain It
According to a study from The New York Times Customer Insight Group, there are myriad reasons why people share stuff, and all of them have to do with human connection and relationships.
People share things because they resonate with someone else’s ideas. For instance, you’ll never share something that comes from people you don’t like and/or trust unless of course, you want to refute their opinion. It’s as if you were shouting to the four winds “hey guys, this is exactly how I think!”.
They share because everyone else is sharing. Ever wondered why and how things go viral? According to Jeff Desjardins from Business Insider, we do it “as a way of filtering and screening our feeds”. Since everyone seems to be enjoying particular memes and videos, we feel compelled to like them and share them, as well. If we don’t, we’ve been living under a rock. Speaking of which...
They share because they want to belong. Are you alienated? Are you not keeping up with the world you live in? Well, you should be. Otherwise, people won’t bother interacting with you. You don’t know anything worth knowing!
Of course, that’s how society wants you to think. People who don’t care about social networks or don’t participate in online conversations, especially when we've been spending more and more time on our phones, are treated as if they didn’t exist. How else are their family and peers supposed to reach them? So they just do it as a means of escaping society’s invisible side-eye.
Sharing Gives People an Overview of What’s “Hot”
Even more than status, a sense of belonging, and validation, the act of sharing help shrink the infinite content database that is the internet. By curating copious amounts of information, people don’t have to waste minutes searching for their next source of knowledge or entertainment. They have it handed to them on a silver platter.
Most of all, people love to consume shared content because they want to escape the petrifying fear of missing out (FOMO), which has cursed more than half of social media users. In order to feel and appear relevant, people want to have the upper hand on topics they care about, such as their favorite football team, their favorite band, or news about their field.
At the same time, however, they have no time to go scrolling through every news article, every song playlist, or every hilarious TikTok video. At least not before their friend or significant other has the audacity to reply with “I already saw this one”. So they save time by resorting to what’s already stirring the web.
The more something’s being shared, the more likely it is that people you know have already come across it. That makes it the perfect conversation starter, fueling just the right dose of belonging for the day. Tomorrow, something else will show up. And the day after that, and the day after that.
What’s everyone’s talking about today? Have you joined in yet?