I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who we are in real life, vs who we are on social media/online and how over the course of the last 5+ years it feels as though our online personas have begun to infiltrate and influence more significantly how others view us in real life.
Let me try to explain.
Let’s look at one version of the online/real life friendship. Let’s say there’s a person you’re friends with on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter who you also happen to know in real life. Most likely you met them in person before you ever began connecting with them on social media, yet currently you connect with them 98% through social media. This person you follow also happens to irritate the fuck out of you online. But in person, you love them! The issue lies in the fact that seeing as most of your day-to-day interaction with them is via their social media accounts, the version of themselves that appears online begins to overtake the version of them in person you know and love. Is it right to begin giving someone’s social behavior more weight than their real life personality? Are we correct in weighing an online persona higher than real interactions when the majority of our personal interactions have shifted to online?
And more importantly, can you still like someone in person but hate them online?
Think about your social engagement. How many people do you follow who you follow simply because they’re a hot mess online? How many people do you follow where each post makes you cringe, but you don’t stop following them? How many blogs do you read of people you know in real life that you specifically read because you’re just “hate reading” each post? How many of you are reading this right now to “hate read” my words, “hate read” my life?
I’m not trying to shame anyone. I do it all the time too.
It makes me think about celebrities. Take the Kardashians for example. Everyone has a judgment about them. All of us. And yet our judgment about these people is based on absolutely zero concrete evidence. It's all media absorbent. It's a one sided assessment we're making based on extremely limited information. It's the same kind of judgment we place on people when we take their social media accounts to represent their full personality.
Social media has tossed us into the same vacuum of the celebrity. Via our Facebook posts and our Tweets and our Instagraming this and that we’re each building a version of ourselves online. A version people consume and believe is the full picture. The outline of who each of us are. And yet, it’s such a tiny insignificant version of who we really are. Look back at your Facebook posts. Is that really who you are? The full rounded out whole version of yourself?
There’s no real point to this post honestly except to say lately I’ve been looking hard at my own navel grazing and wondering what the social version of myself says to the world. Trying to see the version of me that others see when they only look at my social footprint. Trying to decide if my social reality even comes close to scratching the surface of the complex reality that is my life, my personality and my quirks as they exist in the here and now.
I guess if nothing else I ask you to ponder your social self vs your real self and tell me, do you think they’re even close to the same? And more importantly, how much of a shallow, bragging, piece of shit version of yourself are you projecting to the world when the real version of you is so delightful?
And once we all have taken the time to realize we hate our social selves… what the hell do we do next?