Why do people share bad behavior? (Photo: Getty Images)
People behaving badly on social media is nothing new. From Kim Kardashian’s birthday vacation posts while hanging out on a private island amid a pandemic, to that guy from your old high school’s Instagram pics of his unmasked family reunion during winter break (there’s always one — just check your feed), to the live-streamed posts of the domestic terrorists that stormed the U.S. Capitol just this week, it’s clear that there’s often questionable social media judgment from many users. But is sharing bad or controversial behavior simply a mistake made by a few tone-deaf individuals? Or are most people simply looking to get a rise in whatever way they can? What is driving so many people to post things they know will likely end up garnering negative reactions?
“Simply stated, attention,” Andrew Levander, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Pasadena, Calif., tells Yahoo Life. “Almost all of us are predisposed to needing or wanting attention. Attention is tied to esteem and esteem leads to feelings of belonging. [But] some people may ask, ‘at what cost do I want to belong?’”
Levander, who is also Executive Director and Chief Clinical Officer of Seven Star Recovery, New Road Center and Licasa Treatment Center, says this attention-seeking behavior may be rooted in a number of places, from jealousy to self-esteem or even loneliness.
“Even people who one would never imagine struggle with low self-esteem, loneliness or jealousy, desire and even crave at times the attention of others,” says Levander.
Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, an LCSW and author of The Final 8th: Enlist Your Inner Selves to Accomplish Your Goals, feels similarly.
“Social media is a perfect platform for highlighting different aspects of ourselves, including the ones that contribute to provocative public behavior,” says Dengel Gaspard,