Some chastise social media for being the pitfall of our generation while others praise the way it connects people. But one thing is certain and that is that social media isn’t going anywhere. Why do these platforms keep us so engaged, even addicted? Perhaps we’ve always existed within a subconscious social media.
A Tangible Roadmap of Our Minds
Not only does social media provide from a stream of consciousness exposé of our thoughts and moments, it lays out our entire existence as a “friend-resume” of sorts.
Think about the resumés you’ve sent out for jobs or college applications. Now imagine a version of that but it aims to attract friends. What would it list? Maybe things you like, your other friends, and a few photos of yourself. Sound familiar?
When you’re meeting a new person, you most often cover those same topics as well. You discuss individual and shared interests, judge their appearance, and find common ground. With Facebook and beyond, this entire process goes from a half-hour conversation to three clicks of a button.
We’re unknowingly striving to capture the entire essence of our individual humanity on a virtual platform and subsequently have it validated via likes and follows. This whole game is candy to our left-brain. It brings the art and unpredictability of social interaction down to a more linear science. It feeds the part of us that inherently craves uniformity.
Reinforcing the “Image”
We used to constantly strive to cultivate specific images of who we were in the outside world far before the advent of social media, but it now provides us with the perfect platform to do so. Many people live to curate their lives online rather than living to be alive.
The smallest detail such as a photo caption is finely crafted to adhere to the best-selling Instagram persona. This is the technological continuity of the “effortless effort” we all desire in real life.
All of the stress and fine-tuning to paint the perfect happenstance existence occurs on the other side of that screen.
We create ourselves within the confines of 250 characters or a single photo, rather than exploring the depths of our potential alongside the struggles present in true human interaction. The image is never good enough, because it isn’t really you.
Using Social Media Wisely
While social media does cripple our desire and ability to interact in real life, it is also an extremely helpful tool. More than ever we can be connected to people who share our interests, who can make us feel less alone.
Rather than using your profiles to curate a contrived image of yourself based upon what other people want to see, use it to create a wholly authentic picture of who you are. Use that authenticity to then find those people who share your interests. Social media is amazing when used as a precursor to social interaction rather than being a complete replacement.
Just as we can reprogram our minds to view ourselves and how the world sees us, in different ways we can do the same with our social media profiles. If you don’t like the narrative, change it. Be yourself online and in real life and reap the rewards.
Also published on Medium.