Social media facade
A little over 5 months ago I started to take part in the digital world. I created an instagram account, which I quickly complemented with a facebook profile. The reason I created these accounts was professional, not personal. I prefer to keep my personal life offline. The rationale behind keeping my personal life offline is that I like purity. Online is something you get to create – you can shape and design the online version of yourself. Through countless numbers of available photoshop programs we are now all able to show ourselves in picture perfect ways. With the click of a button our blemishes and dark circles disappear and we are left with flawless skin. Would you like bright baby blue eyes? Done! Big rosy plumpy lips? Check! Whatever you want, the online version of you can have it!
Not only do we get to design our online appearance, our online character is also shapeable. You can fill out your profile exactly to your likings. There is no online police who will check if you actually play sports or read ‘Wuthering heights’. Also interacting with people can be steered online. Even though the stream is life, you can take all the time you want to create the ‘perfect’ response. Online everything is possible.
On the contrary, our offline version is pure; it has flaws and makes mistakes every day. (I’m not claiming that my online version doesn’t make mistakes.) My offline life is far from perfect. Because there is no pause button in real life, I sometimes unintentionally hurt people by responding too quickly or break things by taking rash decisions. Even though this makes me feel completely insecure and sad at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My mistakes taught me how to approach situations differently and how to adequately respond to certain things in order to avoid making a mess the next time around. My mistakes made me who I am today.
There is an ongoing discussion about the influence of social media on the self-image of people. Not too long ago a young woman named Essena O’Neill took a stand by telling the truth behind the ‘perfect images’ she posted on instagram. Think filters, perfect lighting, etc. She claimed social media made her feel empty; she no longer wanted to promote and profit off an illusion.
It is my belief that the problem is not social media per se. Today’s fast-paced society can be very challenging; it takes a lot to keep up. Because no one can always bring his or her A-game, an ‘escape’ from our lives is essential in order to survive. Social media is a platform that makes this escape possible. A social media platform is an intangible world where everyone can wander through in a way that fits him or her. When you look around you in real life you don’t see flawless faces, couture gowns or exotic sceneries. But online you can! It is the demand that creates the supply. We want to see beautiful people, shiny things and gorgeous locations. As a result of this demand perfect images are created.
It is true that the world isn’t always fair and not all people are given the same options as others are, but I do believe that taking part in the digital world is a free choice to most of us*. A social media platform is meant to ‘escape’ real life in a positive sense. You should participate in such a way that it feels good to you – that it contributes to your happiness.
The online world can be a magical place where amazing things can be created and where everything seems reachable at arms-lengths, however given the fact that there are no actual rules here it is essential that you set your own guidelines concerning your participation. The online version of you is perfectly shapeable. You should think about what you like to send out into the world, how much of your personal life you want to share and with whom you want to share this information. The most important thing is that you remain leading; you are the director of your online version. So accept responsibility and take control.
*By us I mean adults. I am not referring to under-aged children.