Society within Society

By Sianna Mills

Throughout the ages, social media has not only taken up people’s time but has also formed into a variety of different societies in one.

Society is described as a complex system with all parts working interdependently as well as working together while promoting stability at the same time. This is also how our social media platforms work.

“Society [is a] continuous patterned interaction within a group,” said Laurie R. Hatch, Ph.D., an Ohio University sociology professor.

The most important forerunner of contemporary functionalism, Emile Durkheim, focused on society and what holds society together. What he found was that there needed to be mechanical and organic solidarity, also known as different forms of regulation and integration, which we can see among Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and much more. 

When it comes to the mechanisms of regulation of these social media platforms, there has to be specific rules and regulations in play. There need to be defined rules of conflict, a way of communicating and a way of enforcing these regulations.

In the outside world of technology, Durkheim believed that these mechanisms of regulation are what held society together. This could also be said for all of the social media platforms out there when people agree to the terms and conditions of each platform. 

Blake Smalley, a sophomore majoring in integrated science education and natural science, explained that he followed the mechanisms of regulation throughout social media platforms and throughout his daily life.

“I normally just follow [the terms and conditions] without even thinking twice about it,” Smalley said. “While I do not agree with all laws, I know that they’ve been put in place for a reason.”

When it comes to the mechanisms of integration in society, Durkheim believed that there needed to be celebrated rituals, a form of engagement in gift exchange and communities of memory. Social media platforms show mechanisms of integration across the board throughout the updates of the apps and the memories the users of the apps have. 

Smalley talked about the variety of groups he has joined throughout his time on Facebook. He found himself integrating to a specific community that talks about true crime.

“Over the recent years, I’ve noticed I’ve begun to follow more and more groups on Facebook,” Smalley said. “For example, I’ve started to follow a true crime social media page and I never thought I’d follow their page before.”

The increasing number of people using these social media platforms is not only creating a new form of society but also starts the transition from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity. 

In order to keep up with the increasing number of social media users, there are constantly new reforms of the platforms themselves. The digital society within these apps is constantly growing, so therefore the platforms are always being accommodated to fit society. 

Social media platforms across the world are growing, becoming more popular. People have their own life within each app they are using, with each app having its own digital society within everyone’s realworld society. 

As Emile Durkheim described society needing regulation and integration he also described the digital societies within peoples daily apps before this technology even existed in his lifetime. 

“We are always changing and gaining different views, I wouldn’t be surprised if [social media platforms] make up their own form of society,” Smalley said.

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