Every time you use social media, you’re using it for a specific reason, even if you don’t realize it. That’s what the Uses and Gratifications theory is about.
People always have a purpose when they go on social media. This could be to connect with others, get news, or just be entertained for a few hours.
Different social media provide different uses, so people often use a variety of social media to gratify their needs.
I reflected on why I use the media I do. I mainly use YouTube, Pinterest, and Google Hangouts.
YouTube allows me to watch videos of topics I’m interested in, mostly music, comedy (like Divine Comedy or memes), and educational videos like TED talks or documentaries. This helps create and reinforce my identity, and it provides diversion.
I use Pinterest to post pins to boards I have for quotes, recipes, photography ideas, and the like. It is easy to organize the information I find and use it for later reference.
Some of my cousins and I use Google Hangouts to communicate since we live in different states. We have a “Cousin Chat” and chime in every few days with life updates and cool things we are doing. We even send memes, GIFs, and videos to better connect with each other.
I need these three different social media platforms because they all have a different function and I can’t get everything I want on just one of these apps. Each app has a unique purpose and offers me a way of communicating.
Uses and Gratifications also states that I might not even know why I am using a certain type of social media. I could be fulfilling an unconscious need when I get on one of these apps, but in any case, my needs are being gratified when I use media.
If one of these apps doesn’t fulfill a need I have, I will get another app so that need is fulfilled. For example, if I wanted to connect more with my friends, I could try using Instagram or Snapchat. If my needs are met, then I will continue using that specific type of social media.
I am not a passive consumer when it comes to using media. The Uses and Gratifications theory shows how people like me actively seek out certain media for a reason. Ultimately, people try to satisfy known or unknown needs through the media they use.