Who are we on Social Media?

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Magnified illustration with the word Social Media on white background.

Social Media is a great tool, but how does it affect you or me as the people we are? What’s the difference between the ‘us’ that social media interacts with and the ‘us’ that people interact with face to face?

We’re all witty when we’re online with social media. It’s easier to be, there’s plenty of time to come up with responses and plenty of reasons why someone doesn’t respond straight away, and we get plenty of practise now that we’re spending more and more time online. That doesn’t work as well when you’re face to face, you can’t wait a few minutes while you think of that killer comeback. When you do than either the conversation has moved on or you’re on your way home thinking how great it would’ve been if you had that one-liner a few hours before. I’m sure you’ve seen it in others too, maybe a friend who’s really witty and charming in your Facebook chats but can’t help but fumble over their own words when they’re out and about.

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Or they’re actually a dog

But why?

Everyone has multiple personae, ways of presenting ourselves to others, our identities. We act differently when we’re at school or work than when we’re hanging out with friends, and it’s the same when we’re online. Everything we do online, what we search, tweet about or like, builds a picture of what this persona is. We have so much control over what we post about ourselves, we pick our life experiences and only upload what we want others to see so we can impress our friends. To someone on the outside, your life can look quite idealistic.

It’s not of course, no one’s is, but that’s how it appears because Social Media lets us present it that way. We’ve all been on the other side too I’m sure. Maybe someone we don’t know as well as we could or an old friend you don’t see regularly any more constantly has photos uploaded constantly of themselves looking like they’re having the time of their life on a holiday while we’re home alone scrolling through Facebook eating a whole pizza to ourselves.

Maybe that’s just me. But that’s not the point, if you started spending more time with those people you’d find that the idealism may not be there. That they’re not living the perfect life you imagined they were. They’re human, just like you.

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