Reading Time: 4 minutes
Listen to this article

Social Media Engagement: Bandwagon Effect and its impact

Explore the Bandwagon Effect’s role in social media engagement and its impact on health. Is it fostering healthy interactions? Let’s find out.

Understanding The Bandwagon Effect

This is an interesting incident. In a WhatsApp group, a member posted a picture of his new car and captioned it as “my baby “.  The other members began congratulating him and there was one person who responded with “How cute. What is her name?” (he did not make the effort to see the picture, rather read the previous two comments, and reacted) Hahahaha, it was so embarrassing as another group member asked that person in a private message” What on earth! You are asking him the name of his new car ?” At once, that person realised the goof-up and promptly deleted his message but not before becoming the laughing stock of the group. In fact, to date, they tease him about it. This is the Bandwagon Effect.  

This incident highlights our desire to stay connected while also revealing our tendency to overlook details. Many of us participate in various social media groups on platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, both for personal and professional purposes.

Bandwagon Effect: A Psychological Phenomenon in Social Media

The Bandwagon Effect is “a psychological phenomenon in which people do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs, which they may ignore or override. This tendency of people to align their beliefs and behaviours with those of a group is also called herd mentality.” This resembles a game of ‘follow the leader,’ where we blindly mimic others without pausing to consider our actions.

We have all experienced that once a WhatsApp group member wishes another member on his/her birthday, all of the other members begin to promptly type out their wishes to the birthday person, irrespective if they know them personally or not.  


Chaotic Messaging Mishap

In another incident, a WhatsApp business group, comprised of unfamiliar individuals, witnessed a series of misdirected sentiments. In the morning, some members wished Happy Birthday to a certain Mr.J, which resulted in a barrage of birthday wishes by some other members to him. In the afternoon, a member posted a condolence message to a certain Mrs.J on the bereavement of her parents thereby following an outpour of condolences. By evening, some members were wishing Mrs J a happy birthday and condolences to Mr J. And by night it was some members wished Happy Birthday to Mrs J’s parents and condolences to Mr J for his parents. The chaos ultimately led to the departure of both Mr. and Mrs. J from the group

This incident epitomizes the Bandwagon Effect, as group members failed to verify or pay attention to whom they were messaging or the content they were sharing. Often, including myself, we neglect to fact-check forwarded messages and blindly distribute them to other groups under the assumption of their importance and necessity for circulation.

Bandwagon Effect in Action: The Unintended Consequences of Blindly Following Social Media Trends

There are many such messages doing the rounds, some of them fake and aimed at creating a nuisance. Particularly political or religious content can be volatile They trigger debates, often escalating to unrest, anger, violence, and tragically, even murder. Instances exist where online posts lead to arrests, imprisonment, or worse, the murder of the person who posted an objectionable post by followers of the mentioned political or religious group.

follow trends-The-Aartery-chronicles-TAC

The Dual Nature of Bandwagons

Bandwagons come in both positive and negative flavors. Positive ones might encourage adopting a healthy lifestyle, while negative ones can lead us to follow dubious medical advice (“Lose 20 pounds in 20 days or get your money back!”) or buy unnecessary products (like an extra treadmill when there’s already one in the residential gym)

What is the reason for this herd mentality?

Why are we so pressed for time that we cease to spend a couple of minutes to verify what we are reading and forwarding? Why do we desire to be like others? Why do we have FOMO (fear of missing out)? Why do we want to feel so important in the eyes of others? Why are we constantly seeking validation? Why do we want to imitate others? Why are we facing so much peer pressure? Why do we want to imitate others, be it fashion trends, diets, politics or any other field, for that matter? Why do we need to conform?         

Social Media Validation: The Pitfalls of Seeking Approval and Disapproval

The reason is that we are so vested with various social media platforms and our surroundings, be it at work or elsewhere, where approval and disapproval matter the most. If Ms O can get a million likes for her vacation post, why can’t I? So I will also post some vacation pictures across social media platforms and wait with bated breath for my posts to cross the one-million mark! How thrilled I will feel! I got more likes than her.  This is an example of a negative bandwagon. This type of competition is worthless. After all, the one million likes I received today, may turn to dislikes tomorrow. Who knows the minds of these “followers”?

The Dangers of Social Media Enslavement: A Call for Responsible Engagement

Such irrelevant competition has enslaved us to social media to such an extent that we have become mechanical in our responses. All said and done, we need to act responsibly to prevent any harm or offence. There have been instances when someone wishes for a certain person in a WhatsApp group, but that particular is no longer a member. Instead of cross-checking, the birthday wishes begin pouring in, until some other member points out that the birthday person is no longer a member. This is the extent to how mechanical we have become. We hardly pay attention to the finer details. I mean –  who cares! Everyone was wishing so was I!  

The Perils of Social Media Dependency: Losing Individuality and Confidence

This causes a loss of individuality and lack of confidence, as we become reliant and dependent on the opinions of others. We are so caught up with such pretences that we fail to face facts. Everyone is on social media, and at times they look down on those who aren’t. It has become a status symbol of sorts. Whatever we do is to look better in the eyes of others. I mean, are those people going to give you the time of day when you are going through a crisis? Nope, they will ghost you and block/unfriend you.  It is your family and close friends who will support you during trying times.

responsible-social media-Bandwagon-Effect-The-Aartery-chronicles-TAC

Responsible Social Media Usage: A Call to Action for Influencers and Users

Social media influencers, who invest considerable effort in their online content, should also advocate for verifying messages before forwarding and encourage skepticism towards everything we see. Countless instances exist where outdated messages circulated as current events, sparking unnecessary panic. It’s our collective responsibility to use social media responsibly. Let’s report any misleading, provocative, or negative content to the appropriate authorities, fulfilling our duty as law-abiding citizens. If sharing, opt for positive, cheerful, uplifting, or humorous messages, aiming to spread joy and motivation.

“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been”

Riding the Waves of Individuality: Mindful Social Media Engagement

Let us use our grey cells to think before we indulge in mindlessly forwarding online content or following trends. Be mindful of how you use social media and various trends and dismount the bandwagon, for your own good and for the good of others. Stand out from the crowd and do what you feel is correct. God made you unique, and so be it. Do not be a part of the herd. Think and respond to situations instead of reacting impulsively. Do not lose your individuality, rather become a force to reckon with. Make your own path and forge ahead with positivity and optimism. When you sit back and look at how far you have reached, you will thank yourself, that you alighted the bandwagon just in time. Be proud of your achievements. And most importantly, BE YOU!   

the aartery chronicles

Author: Ms Rupal Sonpal

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top