We and our selves: how social media give us an opportunity to become someone else and take our lives away

Social media were originally created as a tool used to stay in contact with friends and relatives, to get everybody updated on your life in just one click and to meet new people with similar interests. Every platform is a bit different in its ways of communication and features it provides but all of them have a similar goal that is to give you the freedom to be who you want to be and the freedom to be able to show and share everything you want with the outside world and onlookers. Obviously, users employ these possibilities in their own unique ways but for some people social media have turned into some kind of a psychological instrument that brings appeasement to some and feeds the egos of others. Social media allow to transform the reality of individuals according to their choices and liking.   Though it comes with a price.

When we say that users are free to show who they really are quite a few in fact choose to show who they would like to be. I am talking about fake Internet pages and profiles. All it takes is an imaginary enticing name that will seem cool to the potential followers, a seductive picture, which is found somewhere on the web and a tear igniting legend. With the minimum effort you are immediately turned into a completely different person. No one knows you, which means no one will prejudge you. No one has communicated with new you before so you can tell as many and as versatile tales as you wish. The novel appearance draws more attention that you have received in your entire life. This builds your new imaginary universe and simultaneously opens so many new doors for the people, who feel that their everyday life is boring and who cannot act or achieve something in the real world as you can be extremely confident, over the top funny and as much open as you want as nobody knows who is hiding under this masque anyway. However, this game can only partly be a booster and a medicine. Most of the time it gets the person into a sweet trap.
The world, which you construct yourself, can be dazzling and addicting forever. It is only a matter of hours before you get lost there and forget about the ‘normal’ life. You may start receiving compliments, even presents. The flow of conversation partners is never ending. Though the invented identity requires you to keep up with the tale, to continue to play the role and to spend most of your precious life and time on Earth in your mobile phone.

By choosing a fake identity and lifestyle you choose to live an exciting life that is colourful and is full of events. That is what ‘Second Life’ offers, for instance. You can open a business, buy property, go to concerts, and build relationships, ‘Discover incredible experiences, fascinating people, and vibrant communities in this vast virtual world.’ (https://secondlife.com/) By becoming beautiful, fit, smart, successful, and famous online some people indeed get to experience the emotions their egos are hungry for.

At the same time, actual life is moved into the background, daily routines are forgotten, while real family and friends are seen as incapable of providing the same level of admiration and support received online. Your time is spent on fantasizing instead of achieving dreams in reality. But even this is not the worst part of the whole trip as living in a constructed reality is not the worst thing in comparison with doing drugs or committing a crime. The scariest of all is that you will never know if the other people around you in the virtual universe are also fake or are even bots if their emotions are true or artificial and you can never rely on their help if you ever need it. Your virtual reality will never let you experience the warmth of your mom’s hugs, the purring of a tiny kitten, or the taste of Oreo with milk in the evening. The potential withdrawal syndrome, lack of real human connection, loneliness in the house because of your eternal absence are just some of the side effects of an active social media life under a fake identity. Are you ready to pay this price?      

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1 Comment

  • S1962574
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:41 am 0Likes

    Interesting article! I had never heard of Second Life before, but I can imagine it can be an addicting game. Your piece actually reminded me of a TED talk I watched recently called “Why our screens make us less happy” by Adam Alter ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K5OO2ybueM ). At the start of his presentation, Adam talks about how it’s common for businesspeople in the tech-industry to not regularly use their own products, and to limit their children’s use of technology as well (for example, Steve Jobs did not allow his kids to use the iPad, and there’s a school near Silicon Valley that does not ‘introduce screens until the eighth grade’). I think the dissasociation with the outside world that you’re talking about in your blog post definitely plays a part in this.

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