As we spend more and more time connected to our digital devices, we have been so accustomed to living in two worlds: real and digital life.
In the words of Winston Churchill, “we build our buildings and then our buildings make and shape us” which the same would also apply to our digital activities. To which Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher, also pointed out that we create our media and the media, in turn, makes and shapes us. It’s only natural, then, that our cellphones are making and shaping us — which comes to no surprise that people nowadays can get so easily hooked up and became addicted to their smartphones.
The internet has played a major role in people’s lives and proven to be beneficial for society worldwide. It gives us the ability to shop without getting out of the house, pay our bills, and even get connected with loved ones through social media. So, obviously, social media is a great outlet to share your life with friends and family, but here comes the problem… Many young girls today misuse this great tool in pursuit of approval from their peers.
With everything the internet has to offer, including giving us the ability to craft our ideal personas, but to what extent can we control who we are online? And, to what extent are we bound by who we are in the real world?
It has been argued that the social media effect creates a false sense of self and self-esteem through the use of likes, fans, comments, posts, etc. Research done by Girl Scouts, surveying more than 1,000 girls about how they portrayed themselves online, indicates that many teens are reinventing themselves.
74% agree that “most girls my age use social networking sites to make themselves look cooler than they really are”
The results also show that most girls portray themselves as more well-rounded in person than online, where 33% of girls with low self-esteem, admit social networking image doesn’t match their in-person image.
Contrary to the survey, recent research done in the U.S. finds that the behaviour of people in the online world does not differ a lot from the offline one. The research takes a look into the personality traits observed in online environments VS offline environments. The result indicates that there is not much difference between how people are seen through the eyes of others in both environments.
Mischa Coster, a media psychologist, weighs in on why people portray themselves better online than in real life, which he addresses that the personality is actually quite the same but the way which we communicate is different online than offline. However, it is true that we present ourselves more in a more positive manner than we do in real life, and it’s called in psychology the self-presentation bias. Because of this self-presentation bias, we always want to present ourselves a little bit better, and so this kind of positive image emerges which is pretty natural human behaviour actually.
“We as human beings always have the tendency to present ourselves in a slightly more positive way than is actually the case. And, we do that both offline and online. The problem is, however, in online environment you can enrich the information with emoticons, hashtags, pictures, videos, and everything,” Coster added.
Furthermore, social media gets integrated into people’s daily lives simply because humans are social animals and social media forsee the desire to be social. Living in public all the time and having our thoughts and actions archived for eternity. Are we really free to be ourselves online? Or, are we constantly performing, constantly being watched, and plotting our actions like updates in a strategy game?
People, in general, have a tendency to measure sense of well-being by those around them as a part of the total measurements. For instance, we look around us and if we see all these happy people we might feel a little bit sadder because other people are happier than we are. In the same sense, if we see all these serious people when we’re in a good mood we feel extra good about ourselves. So our basic need for social comparison to figure out “are we happy or are we not happy” is much more amplified by the use of social media.
So, how does all of this split impact our sense of self, our identities — which version of you is most true?