Social media is about conformity

This odd study looked at women who wear heels and tracked their heel height as they geographically moved. The researchers found that when women moved to a wealthier area, their own heel height adjusted – up or down – to match that of the area they moved to – in other words, social conformity.

That tendency to conform differed depending on the wealth of the places that the women were coming from, and the wealth of the places they were moving to. People conformed much more when they moved to a place with higher socioeconomic status, as the chart below shows.

Source: What high heels say about the massive gap between the rich and the poor – The Washington Post

The greater the socioeconomic status, the more likely women would conform to the standards of the local area.

As our blog has noted, social media has become a medium that drives conformity. Few question their “friends” yet not “Liking” a post is interpreted as you disagree. Every social media action becomes a “signal” to others in your social group.

The study reinforces the strong desire to conform to social norms, with the observation that we tend to conform upwards, towards those having a higher socioeconomic status. I suspect the same conformity pattern exists in social media – we tend to conform to those who we believe are higher up in the social ranking (as measured by any number of metrics including fame, fortune, credentials or whatever).

This desire to conform to social norms implies social media is a highly effective platform for enforcing conformity in thought.

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