Maslow’s Unbelievably Strange Hierarchy of Social Media Needs

Maslow's Unbelievably Strange Hierarchy of Social Media Needs

Maslow’s Unbelievably Strange Hierarchy of Social Media Needs

Few know about Maslow’s unpublished work on social media (for his published work, see the Wikipedia). And most people doubt that he wrote about social media, since it had not yet been invented. But c’mon! Leonardo da Vinci wrote about flying machines and a simple visit via the Wayback Machine can give us all the info we need. Right?

By the way, if you like this article, you might like What Nikola Tesla Said About the New iPhone Will Blow Your Mind!

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Physiological Needs

At the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy is a category called Physiological Needs. These needs include food, water, shelter, etc. If we apply that to social media, that would be barely surviving on social media. That is, before doing anything else on Instagram, you need to be on Instagram. You’ve seen all those accounts with NO posts and yet 147 followers, right? What is up with that?

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Safety Needs

After the first needs are met, a person needs to be safe physically, financially, etc. On the Interwebs, a person needs to feel safe from spam, government shutdowns, and trolls. They need to be able to tweet peaceably without fear of repercussions. They need to be able to talk about their vacation without a meddlesome relative stepping in to insist that they spend all their vacation in some god-forsaken part of Northern California without Internet. Oh, wait–that’s just me. But it still applies!

Social Belonging

According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among social groups. For some introverts, the sense of belonging might only apply to befriending a couple of cats and a duck. Extroverts are happier with a larger party–say ten ducks–and five cats.

On social media, this sense of belonging could apply to Facebook groups, Twitter chats, or Instagram video. People post pictures of their babies, their dogs dressed as cats, and their cats dressed as sheep. Somehow that makes them feel like they belong. Dogs dressed as cats are not so bad–but cats dressed as sheep? That’s just wrong! As Maslow himself said, “Popular with whom? Perhaps it is better for a youngster to be unpopular with the neighboring snobs or with the local country club set.”

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Recognition, status, importance, and respect are all things we need. And people gain all of these by posting on social media. Often the things that they post are, shall we say, in the fantasy realm. The pics of their cats dressed as sheep are photoshopped to appear more sheeplike. Their vacations are edited to sound more fun. People only show their best side so as to appear happier and elicit jealousy from their friends. Nobody talks about the time they got fired, or drank too much and woke up in a strange city, asleep in bed with a platypus.

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When a person can realize his or her full potential that is self-actualization. On social media, your results may vary drastically. There has been a lot of talk about transparency lately. Maslow was probably talking about social media and transparency when he wrote the self-actualization stage of the hierarchy.

For the self-actualization on social media, Maslow includes the following:

  • When you post a question on Twitter, you get a reply 100% of the time
  • Every post on Facebook is met with smiley faces, never angry ones
  • People think you’re awesome on Instagram, and each picture gets hundreds of comments.

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Maslow talks about generosity of spirit, about giving to some outside organization. On social media, only a couple of people have reached this goal. Non-profits sometimes make the leap. The only person who has reached this lofty level, though, is the Dalai Lama.

Have You Met Your Basic Needs on Social Media?

If not, give me a call. I can move you to your next level.


  1. This is a very clever and funny post – I love your sense of humor, Carol. It’s also creative – I doubt anyone has addressed Maslow & social media and if they have, it wouldn’t be as awesome as this post. Love it!

    I’m hoping the power stays on as the rain is coming down; stay safe & cozy, my beautiful, extremely smart friend. Off to dress up Lucy as a cat for our latest photo session. (Just kidding. Well, maybe!) ;)

    • Thank you so much, Dyane! I had a lot of fun writing it. It’s amazing what a person can do with a good, sturdy Ouija Board, ya know?

      Thank you for stopping by, and for all your support. Much appreciated.


  2. Hi Carol,
    Oh, how I enjoyed the humor in this post. It was much needed this week. Stil laughing as I so appreciate this concept “For some introverts, the sense of belonging might only apply to befriending a couple of cats and a duck.”

    What an excellent way to incorporate social media with Maslow! I hadn’t really thought much about the theory since I used to teach about it in a military leadership course.

    I totally agree with Dyane and she too gave me a laugh at dressing up her pet. Believe me, I’ve been there. Haha


    • Hi Patricia,

      Thank you so much! I know you have a few animals, so maybe you’re an ambivert (if that’s truly a thing–I don’t know!). Or maybe more of an introvert like me.

      Did you teach Maslow? Somehow I don’t think they’d want me to teach it. I think I could fake it for at least two minutes, though.

      Have a great weekend and a better week ahead.


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