I share therefore I am

It is immediately clear that when you scroll through one of the many social media feeds you have that the selfie and snapping your life has become quite a full-time career- rather all consuming. One of my posting addicted friends made me think how bad it has gotten for some when I was asking her about her Instagram feed she remarked ‘most days I wish I’d never started on Instagram’ sounding like a junkie rueing her first hit. ‘The stress of taking the right images at the right time, with the right filters, with the right people, in the right clothes has become all consuming’.

Carefully constructing and editing social-media content to present a deceptively positive picture of your life has become a thing. Many of us indulge in it more than we realise, whether by untagging unflattering photos of ourselves, or by making free with the #blessed #lovemylife hashtags. Facebook-bragging was bad enough; Instagram has upped the ante to a whole new level, adding weight to the theory that a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’.

Hanna Krasnova, professor of information management at Humboldt University of Berlin recently told Slate Magazine (2013), ‘You get more explicit and implicit cues from being happy, rich, and successful, from a photo than from a status update’. And now some 70 million  images are being posted on Instagram every day, with most of us eager to represent, or misrepresent, ourselves through a wide range of filters and artful curation to be leading to the kind of life that wouldn’t look out of place in Vogue.

Initially, this didn’t seem like a big problem. Sure, our sunsets were suddenly doomsday pink and our waists the size of Giselle’s leg, but everyone was having fun right? Wrong. I’ve noticed some of my friends feel the pressure to live two very different lives. Some admit they force themselves to undertake particular activities and attend certain events they deem worthy of posting, and others admit to scheduling their days around whether or not they think particular activities would impress their followers and garner likes.

Scoff all you like, but even if you are just a passive observer, things don’t appear to be any great shakes for you either. People seem to be spending a lot of their time suffering from FOMO, my friend sighs ‘I sometimes spend the whole not scrolling, wondering and obsessing over what I might be missing out on’.

There are many takeaways you might derive from that (maybe we have become bats%$t crazy?!), but although leading a double life online might sound all kinds of messed up, I believe it’s simply an extension of the kinds of story telling humans have been doing since the dawn of time. I think every single one of us has a tendency to to exaggerate, but a platform such as Instagram allows us to do it at a much larger level. I think it is more about ‘enhancing’ what you already have rather than ‘faking’ it. We’re all simply narrating the story the story of how people see us online with the clever use of a few pictures and then leaving it to our followers to join the dots and form their own conclusions.

For those feeling anxious about portraying the perfect life, it’s often about remembering you are in control of your social media, not the other way around. This way of life is certainly not going away, so adapting to it in a way that fits in with your world view is key. Perhaps it’s about paring things back and only posting what is authentic, or moving to another platform. But I think anyone who enrages in social media needs to remember the famous quote by Mae West: ‘Keep a diary, and someday it will keep you.’

How do you say no to double-life syndrome? Are you sharing authentically? Do you experience feelings of loneliness when scrolling through peoples’ feeds?

 

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5 thoughts on “I share therefore I am

  1. Wow this really hit home for me. I am definitely guilty of double-life syndrome. Maybe not to the extreme where i plan my days around what it will allow me to post on social media, but I am one of those people who pre-plans their Instagram posts and will sometimes take a carefully curated photo only to wait three days to actually post it at “the right time”. And it’s a little scary that it’s not just me.

    It makes me think about just how much social media use has changed. I remember when I used to post my every thought on Facebook – now i find myself thinking, “how many likes will this get?” While I do agree that we are using social media more to “enhance” rather than “fake it”, I feel that we are getting to the point now that when we are constantly enhancing we are forming a somewhat fabricated portrayal of ourselves and our lives and therefore crossing that line into “fake” territory. It’s a fine line. And it makes me wonder where this is all going; what’ll be next? How much more can this be integrated into our lives? what’s the next form of uberveillance?

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  2. Your post certainly points out the dark side of popular social media platforms and it is quite scary the length that people will go to take a good picture. I liked how personal you made this post by revealing how your friends react to Instagram. The idea of FOMO was certainly relatable as there have been some instances where I have looked through my feed and seen someone overseas somewhere and I thought, “Gee I’d love to be there too”.

    I think it’s very easy to fall into the trap of having a ‘double life’ as you say. Though I do believe there are many people who post life how it is, there is also the thrill of getting approval and praise from our friends and followers when we touch it up a bit or go the extra mile for a great shot. There is always the temptation to make our lives seem better. I think it’s important to know that it doesn’t matter if your picture doesn’t get hundreds of likes. Likes are fleeting and people will always be looking for the next best thing. It’s more important to be happy with yourself regardless.

    I really liked this post, you’ve certainly highlighted our society’s obsession with the way we are perceived by others. Though there were a few typos, the post really flowed and held my attention the whole way though. Great infographic too! I am definitely guilty of taking pictures of my food.

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  3. Hi Teg,

    Really liked your post this week! I agree that social networking sites, such as Instagram, have become detrimental to our society (in particular our ability to simply ‘live’).

    I too have friends that have expressed their wishes for a life that is less controlled by social media, yet I see them scanning every event for an opportunity that is deemed ‘Instagram worthy’.

    One of the main issues I have with people who are completely divulged in the use of the app, is those who also pair it with the ‘who unfollowed me’ apps that show the people who unfollow you on Instagram. It seems absurd that people care so much about their online identity, that it has almost turned many into mini control freaks who survey their ‘friends list’.

    I loved your balance between discussion and personal opinion or stories. I thought that this made the post really relatable and amusing. Your quote by Mae West really left my pondering my own social networking use. Great post!

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  4. oh wow, hold on, i just realised on reflection of this comment that for some reason I included something about uberveillance in the last sentence! my mind must have been elsewhere – just ignore that last sentence! It shouldn’t be there!! haha

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  5. I 100% agree with this post. Selfies have become such a huge part of so many people’s lives that it does resemble signs of addiction. So many people I know will post a photo on Facebook or Instagram and if it doesn’t receive enough “likes”, they will delete it and repost it at a later time hoping for more love. The time they also dedicate to taking the perfect picture shows just how much social media and selfies are an influence in some lives. And with the use of filters and editing tools, online personas can be totally different and can completely falsify an individuals image. So although selfies may appear to be harmless, it is really just a way for people to hide and “filter out” what they consider to be their imperfections, providing negative self-image ideals.

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