We all know girls and boys behave differently on various social media platforms. Take “selfies” – this is quite clearly a female-skewed trend. Actually, while researching for this blog post I came across a project called “Selfiexploratory” which is actually pretty interesting and might inspire a later post for someone! Anyways, the project analyzed over 3200 Instagram selfies from 5 cities across the world and found that the ratio of female to male was always higher (for example, in New York City, 61.6% of selfies analyzed were posted by women).
Selfiexploratory is just one example. Even by simply observing my friend’s habits on social media, the gender differences are clear. My female friends posts on social media are often pointless statements, usually stream of consciousness type remarks or posts. On the other hand, my male friends usually post more matter-of-fact statements about specific occurrences like sports, events, etc.
Examples (yes these are real posts by my friends, I hope you find them slightly humorous):
Research shows that men are much more active on content-oriented sites such as YouTube, while women are more active on sites that facilitate communication and connection. As this Forbes article states, “While women often use online social networking tools to make connections and share items from their personal lives, men use them as means to gather information and increase their status”. These differences can be attributed to the female tendency n to seek connections with those around them. Women like to talk more than men and are more inclined to share personal information. Sherry Bowen, a gender and communications professor at Villanova attributed these differences in social media usage to characteristics we picked up as children; “Girls learn to build relationships by sharing social information. Boys learn to compare and compete with others, always striving for more success.” Another researcher went back even further than childhood lessons, and believes the female tendency to seek connections and the male tendency towards competition and boasting can be traced back to early evolutionary ancestors, where males were competitive with one another and females worked together to form communities.
I think these finding are so interesting. I always knew men and women behaved differently on various social media outlets since we behave differently in almost all situations, not just through our online personas. But, social media is so new to all of our lives. I would have never expected that evolutionary or developmental concepts could be used to explore these different behaviors. I’d like to look more into what the implications are of these differences. I read an article recently from Time in the “Love and Relationships” section that was called “What Men Share on Social Media But Not With You“. It says that since females have much more practice sharing their feelings with others, as mentioned above, they are likely to do so on social media. Men, on the other hand, would prefer to only share things on social media, because then they don’t have experience the reactions they receive in real-time. Maybe I’ll explore if there is any concrete research on how social media affects relationships for another post (I think we can all come up with some ideas without any concrete research).