Is Your Online Life More Perfect than Your Offline One?
The Internet, with the many social media networks, is a magical place. We can edit what we share before sharing it. We can take time to think before responding to comments and we can manage to never be caught off guard, untagging ourselves in any photos that may have caught us in a bad light. In fact, the online world offers us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. In the online world, everyone is the star in his or her own production.
Presenting ourselves in our best light online is no different from what we do offline except online there are more tools to do so. Readily available photo-editing software can enhance any picture. Every life we peer into looks “perfect”! While we are crafting our perfect productions, when we look at the productions of our friends and acquaintances we can fall prey to the comparison trap; perceiving our own lives in a less than favourable way.
How do young people handle this? (Wait! How do we handle it?)
I remember visiting Universal Studios as a child and becoming disenchanted by what I saw on the tour. For instance, I learned that the stars would have a “mark” where they had to stand where the lighting was already arranged perfectly, often pre-set by using a double. There were many camera tricks employed; all was not as it appeared on the big screen. Today’s technology gives everyone the same editing opportunity; each photo, each update can be crafted to put us in the best light. Why wouldn’t we want to use it?
Yet when we are able to be authentic, relinquishing our perfect personas, and we express our feelings online, something different happens. Connecting with friends in cyberspace this way somehow helps us to process our lives. This can be very therapeutic as long as it does garner a response. It shows us we are heard and cared about. It lets us come into community with others who are presently dealing with similar issues or who have dealt with them in the past. It makes us feel less alone.
Do you see potential downfalls with the sharing that happens on social media or do you think it’s all good? What kind of effect do you think social media is having on young people today? Is your online life more perfect than your offline one?
Photo credit: Robert Jemimus