If you use different social networks on a daily basis, you must have already noticed the most striking behavioural characteristics of the user base in each of them. Complaining on Twitter is as socially acceptable as saying good morning and good night in the “real world”. In this context, people who are on the microblog get to be energetic when they say: “Do you want to live in a fairy tale? Go to Instagram!”. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a universe of its own — it has even been labelled by many as a toxic network, due to the flood of motivational publications that “forced a bar”.
But what about who is on all these networks at the same time? How do they adapt? Can you have multiple “personalities” and still be… yourself?
I spoke with some experts in psychology, social behaviour and personal branding to understand the phenomenon that seems to shape our actions on each platform. The result of this research, and some tips to do well when moving between different networks, you can find in the following lines.
It’s common, and we know it: opening Instagram and sharing an inspiring photo about looking at the glass half full, then running to Twitter and venting about the work in the neighbour’s apartment. What may seem like a contradiction at first, happens every day, with a lot of people.
Some platforms allow us to be more “complainers”, while others require more seriousness. There are still those who seek positivity at any cost, and it is even difficult to remain in them when the happiness quota is low.
As well as institutions that we attend outside of digital – school, hospitals, malls, workplace – each social network also has its rules of conduct. They have an influence on how we express ourselves. But are they capable of changing our personality?
personality vs behavior
In psychology, the concept of personality can be defined as “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thought and behaviour”. Scientific research indicates that a person can suffer from a personality disorder (such as narcissism or obsessive-compulsiveness) due to some factors, including a genetic predisposition, situations of abuse and other social agents – including, of course, digital networks.
There is, however, a difference between personality and behaviour. The second can be understood as a set of activities and reactions of an individual to the social context to which he belongs or is exposed. Under “normal” conditions, behaviour externalizes the personality. But because it is less intrinsic, it is more susceptible to temporary changes.
For example, an extrovert person may feel cornered in a given situation and have behaviours that are not natural to their personality, such as reclusion, lack of sociability. If this environment becomes your “new habitat”, perhaps it will begin to change your personality over time.
Thinking about social networks, Bruno Munhoz Ribeiro, Clinical Psychologist at Telavita and postgraduate in Clinical and Intensive Neurology, says the following:
He also explains that there is not just a specific age group for the influence of networks to have an effect on their users .
Community and resources influence users
You can even say: “Hey, if the profile is yours, you can post whatever you want” — but the truth is that this only works until the second page. As Flavia Gamonar, teacher, consultant and instructor at LinkedIn Learning explains, we participate in social networks (digital or not), because we see benefits in them, and receiving support is one of them.
Ribeiro says that in addition to the community itself, the resources offered by applications and websites end up shaping our behaviour on a daily basis. The psychologist also associates this factor with feelings of joy or the option of hiding their true identity on social networks.
Flavia Gamonar also believes that there are two major sources of influence for a user who is part of a social network.
LinkedIn is a clear example of how the community is a strong influencer in creating certain patterns of behaviour, which can end up changing other people’s perceptions of their identity.
As a professional social network, LinkedIn has a different kind of “code of conduct”, an “invisible tag”, as Gamonar puts it. She argues that, in theory, the publication is free, but one must keep in mind the context and justification for publishing on any topic.
Regarding the wave of posts considered toxic on the network, Flavia says that the problem is to “romanticize everything”. In this context, the imbalance in publications can generate the opposite effect: a certain loss of personality, of what makes us unique.
In the end, everything is connected.
It doesn’t matter what traits you display the most on your social media: in the end, all the arrows point to the same place: you. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain consistency in relation to your personality in all social networks, even if some behaviours end up being shaped according to the specific environment that each one provides.
It makes no sense, for example, to complain about work on Twitter and act as if everything is fine in “real life”, in everyday life. The discrepancy between these attitudes can even end up damaging your image in front of other people – such as your boss, your co-workers, friends or family.
André Santos, who is LinkedIn Top Voice and a specialist in personal branding, believes that, although there is a little influence of community and resources on social network users, the ideal is not to let any of that change who we really are.
For Santos, it’s not worth joining a social network just to gain an audience if you don’t feel comfortable publishing on the platform. The tip is clear: act naturally. “If you believe that your style adapts to all networks, I don’t see a problem with being on them, as long as you are natural (and manage to have time to produce varied content)”, he ponders.
Finally, Flavia Gamonar draws attention to the concept of “private” on the internet, which ends up taking on a different content.