Did social media turn us into voyeurs? Vlogs, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, snapchat and many other social media platforms give us a look at the lives of friends, family, colleagues, and strangers. Where following and looking at others with the current frequency would have been categorised as stalking/voyeurism in the past. We now find it normal to peer into the lives of others for hours on hours in a day.
The first definition that you will find on voyeurism is that it is the practice of sexual gratification from observing others. While most will say that their actions on social media are far from sexual gratification, the truth in this actually lies in what you deem to be sexual gratification. It is well known that social media content where the human body is shown in a provocative way receives the most engagement. Ranging from someone simply being in revealing clothes to someone in sexual poses, people are quick to press the like button and post various emojis in the comments. Clearly the eye candy brings forth a feeling of desire or it fulfils a desire. Fulfilling of a desire can also be seen as gratification.
Another definition is the practice of taking pleasure in observing something private, sordid, or scandalous. Think of the things that peak interest when it comes to celebrities. Chances are, most of the things that come to mind, fall in the here fore mentioned categories. This does not only apply to celebrities. Content based on break-ups, sexual lives, pain and various situations of regular people are some of the most ‘popular’ posts/content on social media. Pictures taken, videos recorded, all in moments when the other was oblivious to the actions taken by the observers.
In some form or fashion voyeurism has helped us develop to where we are now as a species. We have observed each other and our surroundings in order to build our society. One might say the intensity of our observation needed to evolve, could be seen as a form of stalking. We observed animals and learnt from their habits, interaction with nature and even body shape. We observed each other in times when the world was far less connected.
The current form of social media turns what used to be a simple observer role into one that is borderline voyeurism. Where we as humans would first observe that which is in our direct vicinity. We now observe everything and everyone and mostly for entertainment. Where in the past we would interact in some shape or form, we now can easily ‘lurk’ in the shadows without anyone ever knowing. Our natural curiosity now has no borders due to social media which can turn simple observation to something more sinister.
Whilst social media is a great way to keep in contact with friends and family members or meet new people. The various ways it impacts our dopamine levels brings with a side effect which makes it far less innocent than we would like to believe.
Are we truly interested in others or are we simply fulfilling some kind of subconscious voyeurism desire?