Am I the same person on social media and in real life? I’ve asked myself this question before, and I’ve come to the conclusion that social media is either a place where you are your genuine self or your ingenuine self.
Personally, I’m obsessed with Instagram and overthink how other people will perceive me. Why do I post? Is it for self-validation? What do I earn from this? Overall, I mostly post pictures with my friends after a fun event, or that one good ballet photo out of the thirty my friend took. But sometimes we can’t help but post that selfie that we staged – changing out of a college hoodie and brushing our hair after binging the latest season of “You” on Netflix just to feel good about ourselves.
Someone once asked me why I had social media and in a quick attempt to be funny, I said, “because I am incapable of turning away from conformity in the 21st century.” I thought it was hilarious, but they asked me to be serious and I realized that the answer wasn’t as simple as I had thought. They rephrased the question and asked me what type of photos are post-worthy. Ultimately, we tend to post photos from memorable and fun events, whether that be a party, vacation, or a funny video of your pet, we want to portray our genuine happiness.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the people who treat social media as a way to portray fake happiness. We’re all aware of “influencers,” some of which claim to have mental health issues, even if their social media gives no hint of it. Most of the time, we are sucked into comparing and contrasting our feeds with other people’s which just contributes to bad self-esteem. However, most of these pictures are fabricated and false depictions of how one looks in real life. The more we pin ourselves against one another, the more unsure we feel about our personality, body or goals.
We’ve begun to put aside the idea of living in the moment and instead have turned to pulling out our phones and opening Snapchat or another app to record and relay our experiences for others to see. Some are constantly thinking about where and when they’re going to take a picture. Honestly, without the audience, would you still post the beach bathing suit picture? Or the cute selfie with your significant other at a party even though everyone knows you had a big fight and almost broke up?
Most of us want to believe that we are staying true to ourselves; however, avoiding social conformity in this day and age is practically impossible. Even having social media in the first place is proof of this. Young and old alike are becoming increasingly attached to their phones and for the sole reason of social media’s existence. It allows you to portray yourself however you want, which gives you the option of distorting your image. It can be maintained that painting an unrealistic picture of yourself online is not helpful to both your body image and overall self-esteem. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter at all and we shouldn’t be validating ourselves through social media.
Graphic: Chloe Cho