“Social media is an advertisement for the superficial extroverted self” (Hozier).
When it comes to social media, we all have our own perception of it’s uses. Some of us use it to present ourselves a certain way. Some of us use it as a tool for communicating with friends and family.
Apart from how it is used, the perception and misconception of how we appear online are presented to us in a way that we like to see.
Social media has become a game of managing yourself and your online persona. We want to seem a certain way, yet there are people who have us added and/or follow us that we don’t want to see that certain side of us.
The conflict involved in social media is very apparent and can leave us wondering why everyone is a part of it.
How We Perceive Ourselves
A lot of the strangeness that comes from social media is that it’s social, but it’s still only media that you do by yourself.
Depending on how you are using it, you might be talking to people through a certain platform, but it’s hard to detect emotion and real interaction. We try and format everything we say to accurately portray what we want to say, but this can be frustrating.
This is also in part that social media isn’t a one-on-one conversation, it’s artificial interaction.
A way to look at how it really works is to imagine giving a presentation to everyone in your family, all of your friends, all of your coworkers and bosses, and see how much you change because of the overload of people.
This is known as context collapse where we aren’t sure how to perceive even ourselves in certain situations because this isn’t one situation, it’s all of them at the same time.
We work to make sure we are well accepted, but we aren’t sure how to tell what that means. Do likes on a post mean we are being validated? Did someone think what we said was funny? Do they support what we said or just are glad we said it?
There’s too few clues in social media for the actual social element of it all.
How We Believe Others Perceive Us
We format our social media pages to reflect not how we see ourselves, but how we wish to see ourselves and how we want others to perceive us.
Our social media pages are essentially relationship resumes for the world. We want to look professional for employers, fun for friends, and happy for family.
However, it’s obvious that you can’t always balance things like this and have to choose priority when posting to social media.
Platforms like Instagram make it more selective for others to choose a picture and read what you said about it before having to scroll through all your comments and status updates.
Snapchat is more private and you can choose to send things directly to people and can choose who can and who can’t see your public story.
Facebook is starting to die (of multiple reasons currently but referring to it’s first decline) due to the fact that it was more of a test for social media to get everyone informed of the growth in this new age of information. We were persuaded to start adding who we will be in touch with for the rest of our social media lives.
As is quite obvious now, Facebook developed into more of a ghost town dead space where the only active users are those sharing old videos they found off of Youtube or Vimeo getting a couple likes (this is at least the case for my Facebook feed today).
Additionally, as platforms focus around the type of perception presented, we can still format it to the way we want ourselves to appear, but how we are actually perceived is completely up to who we have added.
What comes with social media is the adaptation to talk to friends and family sharing posts of ourselves or posts we want to bring attention to. Yet it does also come with the anxiety of being public while making all of your posts in private.
Your page is reflecting the possibility of you throwing a party and making a host speech in front of everyone you know.
You try and format your presentation like your outfit, needing it to appeal to everyone and to properly fit into the setting or occasion.
The anxiety that comes with the presentability is that most of it is out of our control. The only part we do have control of is the content and pictures, but everyone’s perception of the situation will vary.
As social media continues to grow, we will all be more connected than now (it that’s at all possible), but it might develop to help remove some of these problems as using different social media accounts has been the temporary fix.
Like I mentioned, Snapchat became the platform for friends and parties, along with Instagram for picture uploads and our online photo gallery, Twitter for our random late night thoughts and opinions, and platforms like LinkedIn for professionalism.
The change in how we use the platforms may be hard to predict, but it is apparent that the users format how the platforms behavior changes as the necessary sharing situations gravitate towards their appropriate category.
We will continue to watch the changes in social media and be selective about how we participate, but the method on how we do so will depend on our decision for what we choose to publish as part of our online identities.