Alagi Saidy-Barrow: Why Do We Share Pictures On Social Media? 

Alagie Saidy-Barrow

You can’t scroll through Facebook or indeed any of the social media platforms without seeing pictures or photos of people posing in different settings.

Someone in my Bandam’s circle came up with the “brilliant” idea to have him pose in a rice field holding a very clean hoe dressed in an outfit that definitely doesn’t inspire hard work.

Outside of my Bandam, have you ever wondered why we share pictures and videos of ourselves on social media? Have you ever wondered what motivated the person sharing a picture or what they seek to gain by sharing their photos with the public?

In my hustle, you’re conditioned to think that people, nine times out of ten, only act when there’s something to gain in return for their action. If you can figure out who stands to benefit from an action, you’ve gotten yourself a suspect. I’m not saying posting pictures or sharing photos of oneself is a crime.

My point is to seek to understand what motivates one or what one stands to gain by sharing their photos on social media. For truly if “a picture is worth a thousand words” as they say, what words are we trying to convey to our readers through the pictures we share on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc? Here’s what you’ll often see:

– Pictures of us at our happiest moments

– Pictures of us in the most idyllic or beautiful places

– Pictures of us with “important” or “influential” people

– Pictures of us having fun

– Pictures of us and our accomplishments

– Pictures of us when we think we look our best

– Pictures of us traveling (traveling is something to brag about on these shores)

What you’ll seldom see are pictures of us when we are not so happy or pictures of us in not so nice places. I have actually seen people who would go to other people’s nice houses and pose for pictures there.

Eid is often an occasion for us to parade in our outfits and share our beautiful photos with the world. Have you ever wondered why someone will gather their whole family, pose for a photo in their very nice outfit, and then share it on Facebook? What do you think they stand to gain by sharing the photos? Are they sending a message? Looking for validation? Looking for some type of appreciation?

You will not see too many people displaying pictures they took with unimportant people like me or Sawagibi. Having said that, wait till my Bandam makes me minister over Talmudic Affairs and you’ll see folks coming out with all types of pictures they have of me and them. And importantly, you’ll hardly ever see us share pictures when we don’t think we look our best. We mostly only share pictures in which we think we look our best. Why?

Are we trying to share how handsome or beautiful we are when we share nice pictures of ourselves? Are we looking for some type of approval? Does that relate to our ego or self-esteem in any way? If not, why don’t we share pictures of ourselves in which we don’t think we look our best? And many of us will tell you “I don’t care what people think of me.” Is that true in this case?

When we share pictures of ourselves in beautiful places, are we trying to convey to our audience that we are living the good life? Does that say something about our vanity and or self-esteem? If not, what would motivate someone to share such photos?

When we share pictures of ourselves with “important or influential” people, what message are we sending? That we know important people and that somehow makes us important? What does that say about our self-esteem? Or is it even about that? If it is not, what do we gain by sharing such pictures? I’m just wondering mein!

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