Jung's Self vs. Social Media

Beyond the moments where we’re highly surprised or entertained, our timeline is really a reflection of our “aspirational identity” – the person we wish we really were.

This made me remember studying Carl Jung in my Freshman college psychology class. To give you a quick refresher, Jung explains how our “self” is at the intersection of our pubic “ego” fueled self vs. our hidden, desire-laden “private self” which is more influenced by our animal/reptilian brain. A person’s ability to mask their strong animal instincts behind a socially appealing veneer, tend to be more successful than someone who struggles to manage their public and private self.

Unless we’re trying to be intentionally ironic, we don’t discuss our impulsive junk-food habits or the fact that we skipped a workout – instead, we post photos of gourmet meals and our seven mile runs.

So, if Facebook is a platform for reconciling who we want to be, then is it fair to say Secret must be the platform for reconciling who we really are?

Between these extremes are a wide host of social media platforms. For this example, we’ll look at Pinterest and Reddit. Pinterest, through its onboarding and social design principles, biases towards a more outward, and “real” identity. Reddit, on the other hand, biases towards being anonymous. Ironically, I’d argue that a person’s aggregate collection of “things” is very revealing, but that’s another topic.

As a social media application designer, you should consider the following –

1. What type of topics (safe vs. dangerous) will you be encouraging?

2. Does a user’s self-censoring hurt or improve the experience for others?

3. Does the candor of an anonymous user make the experience better than a self-censored-yet-more-revealing contribution from a real person?

It’s worth exploring.