You aren’t who your social media says you are

Hundreds of faces pass each other in the hallway every day. Some produce smiles, greetings or high fives, while others pass each other without as much as eye contact. Students walk by someone every day for an entire semester without exchanging a word, yet they could identify each other’s favorite music, thoughts on controversial topics and even what they had for dinner the previous night.

That is exactly the terrifying beauty that is social media.

It is technically called social media, although that is the exact opposite of what it truly is. It is anti-social media. Instead of getting the guts to talk to a classmate who is found to be intriguing, the members of the anti-social media generation sits behind Instagram putting themselves in an easily unnoticable realm of 200 others who decided to give a “like” to another selfie captioned with an unoriginal saying generated through the help of a group chat of best friends. Sometimes if a person gets really daring, he or she will comment on the said picture with the help of an emoji (Thank God they finally updated them to include all races. It’s the 21st century for crying out loud!!) that took a couple minutes to select, in hopes of creating a connection.

Twitter doesn’t fall far from the anti-social media tree either. Favoriting a tweet can be seen to some as a friendly gesture where to others it is a sign of romantic interest. In order to get to know somebody, the anti-social media age doesn’t go up to somebody and introduce themselves; they favorite tweets, like pictures, and if things really are getting crazy, they will add someone on Snapchat in order to truly get to know them through selfies with seven-word sentences over top.

The most puzzling aspect of today’s anti-social media age is that people straight up dispise another person, of which they have never talked to, because of who they are on social media. It is true that while scrolling down through feeds, it is easy to find the sports analyst who might as well head straight to ESPN, the church goer who badly wants you to know that their lives have been changed instantly because of an incredible sermon (they’re not in for the likes I promise), or someone who doubles as an inspirational speaker on Twitter (they aren’t in it for the favorites either, even though the tweet seems to magically get deleted if the favorites don’t start rolling in at a timely manner).

Many people will admit to getting annoyed by these previously mentioned types of people on social media and often hear a common response when gossip starts to arise. “Yeah, I know he seems really annoying, but he isn’t like that in real life,” or “Trust me she’s nothing like you would think.”

If there are so many claims out there defending friends from being who they seem to be, then there is only one explanation: You are not who your social media says you are.

It’s all one big performance. It’s about how funny of a tweet you can formulate, how perfect your flow can be on Instagram, posting at the highest traffic hours of the day and getting the perfect edit for optimal likes on your picture. It’s all about “Hey, look at me. I went on this vacation, ate at this restaurant and hung out with these people.” People adventure into the most beautiful places the world has to offer and spend their entire time taking pictures instead of enjoying the view. The anti-social media generation is more enamored with telling people how great their life is rather than actually making it great.

In a world where it is more likely that you know someone because you follow them on social media than have actually been introduced, who you see online is who you know. Since the person you think you know is only showing what is essentially the highlight reel of his or her life, self esteems have been damaged creating the social media self esteem life cycle. You see a person’s perfect (edited) skin, face and body, and after commenting “Omg so perfect” or “no flaws wtf,” you start to compare yourself to them and your self esteem is lowered. Then you post your own picture with perfect (filtered) attributes and begin to gain your self confidence back with each like and every comment filled with emojis that have hearts for eyes.

Next thing you know you’re posting sappy, cliche or inspiring tweets so the positive mental trigger goes off when you get favorites and retweets, and before you know it, you have created the “social media you.”

The mental trigger that goes off when you get a like is kind of like getting a pat on the back, but it actually has a name. Impression management is a sociological theory that is an effort to control or influence the perceptions that other people have about something, or in this case someone (you). Basically it states that in order to have an improved self esteem, which everyone wants, you have to impress other people, i.e. the “social media you.”
The “social media you” is who all of the people interested in getting to know you see. It’s the instant hardcore judgements that take place from a potential college roommate, romantic partner or fellow social media user who happens to stumble across your profile. A first impression is very important in determining how the rest of the relationship goes, and some studies have shown that you only get seven seconds to make a first impression in person. What does that translate to online? Seven tweets? Does a first impression even go beyond your most recent post? It’s impossible to say, but one thing’s for certain: Make each post as if it were your last because one day the “social media you” will fade into oblivion and all that will be left is regular old you.

A day without edited pictures and insincere comments? It doesn’t even seem real.

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