How has it changed over time with the development of social media?

Meghan Keating

The concept of manifesting your own identity through social media is not a new idea in American society. Before the age of technology, families would conceal their identities by only displaying the positive aspects of their lives to others. Families hide their flaws to impress others and appear as the “perfect” American family. This persistence for perfection has evolved with the use of social media.

Personally, I believe that people are taught to keep their failures and insecurities to themselves and celebrate their successes. Within my own family, I do sometimes feel as though we mask our flaws. There have been times when we are driving to an event (ex. family party, parent’s work event, etc.) and in the car we have gotten into fights but then right before we get out of the car we all agree to not let others see that we were just fighting and “pretend to like each other.” In my life, this has also been consistent through the use of social media. People tend to post about positive aspects of their lives, which gives the impression that they are much better off than they actually are. This in return creates a cycle of insecurity. When one person posts, the next person feels as though they must one up the other by getting more likes/comments to feel accomplished. By making yourself seem more appealing on social media, people put others down and then they post to make themselves seem great. It is an endless cycle of putting yourself up which results in others feeling badly, unaccomplished or ugly.

In order to gain other perspectives on this concept, I asked my teachers and fellow classmates about their tendencies on social media. When I asked them when they were mostly likely to post on social media, the most common responses were: vacations, weddings, school events and anytime they take a cute picture with their friends. Next, I asked them what an outsider would assume about them just by seeing their social media accounts. The most common responses were: “That I am much more social than I am,” “I’m rich,” “I have a lot more friends than I really do,” “I have a lot more confidence than I do,” and “I have a much cooler life than I actually do.” The final question I asked them was why they keep the more negative aspects of their lives stored away and why they think we do not encounter peoples flaws on social media. The most common responses were: “I don’t want to burned others with my issues,” “People don’t actually care how I am doing or anybody for the matter,” and “I don’t want to see less worthy.”

This video displays how people strive to be perfect on social media and hide their flaws from their followers.

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