So far, it’s clear that we live in a global society driven by online communication and a frequent online presence. As social actors with agency, we join social media platforms at our discretion and use it to promote our values, ideals and thoughts.
We use it to maximize our careers, our well-being, our ideologies and our personal agendas. It is an extremely personal journey, however, it’s not a private one. There is no such thing as privacy when it comes to social media and the online world. After all, Mark Zuckerberg views privacy as a barrier to the directness that social media offers. In an interview with Time magazine in 2010, Zuckerberg declared that ‘what people want isn’t complete privacy. It isn’t that they want secrecy. It’s that they want control over what they share and what they don’t’. Although this is specific to Facebook, other platforms like Twitter and Instagram promote this same concept. We have the power to create and maintain a representation of ourselves, whether it is authentic or not, and everyone you ‘know’ can see it.
We live in a world where perception is everything, especially when it comes to social media. Unfortunately, it’s come to the point where many people, including myself, present a hyper-idealistic version of ourselves. In other words, we create a fabricated sense of ourselves and our self-confidences. We’ve become obsessed with comparing ourselves to other people, we’ve started becoming disheartened because we’re bombarded with images of the ‘perfect’ woman or man. Did you know that it’s a fact that 82% of women believe social media is influencing how we define beauty today? Now, go have a look at your search page on Instagram. Beauty, nowadays, is defined by make-up, fashion, money and the perfect, most uncomfortable angle. Excuse my pessimism.
This post does have a cynical streak to it, but this is because the way we portray ourselves on social media can have serious consequences. Speaking from a personal experience, my self-esteem has become unstable ever since I became active on social media, and for some reason I feel the need to show people that I’m actually okay through carefully cultivated images and posts. This is dangerous because it promotes unnecessary competition between people we know and it denies imperfections, something we all have. It also promotes a sense of narcissism – a belief that you’re better than other people, but that you probably have underlying insecurities too.
All this information shouldn’t surprise us, because we have been conditioned to project our greatest (and unrealistic) selves- a digital representation that silences our difficulties and insecurities. The consequences are inescapable: self-loathing, anxiety, depression, to list a few.
Alright, enough cynicism for one day. My guidance to you is simple in its words, but challenging in its execution. Your true self is more than enough, and the people that matter in your life will know this. Take time to confront negative thoughts and self-esteem issues and question their origin. Why are you feeling this way? Then take action from there. Never suppress the sentiments and true existence of yourself for likes, double-taps or shares – because, whether you like it or not, it actually doesn’t matter.
Featured Image: Volkan Olmez, Unsplash.com – https://unsplash.com/search/sad?photo=wESKMSgZJDo