Our perception is everything, extremely so in the world of social media. The concept of presenting “ideal selves” versus reality has become more prevalent. Your “ideal self” is what you aspire to be due to societal influences. Most people wish to maximize themselves and be like those that they find most successful. Social media has allowed users to create the life they want their followers to see.
Studies show that your profile picture, personal information, updates, daily interactions, and even your typing style were strategically decided upon on the basis of one question, “How do I want my peers to see me?” according to a college related article in USA TODAY.
Humans are driven by factors such as competition, achievement, and status. Social media can create a false sense of self and self esteem through the use of likes, followers, comments and posts. Today, it is almost considered an accomplishment to have a trending post or status.
Appearance plays a major role in social media popularity, which can motivate people to create false profiles or enhance their photos. The popular MTV series “Catfish” is based on exposing people that create fake profiles online, mostly on Facebook, and viewers can see how easy it is to be victimized by these profiles. Most of the people who chose to create these fake profiles on the show admitted that they did it for reasons such as popularity, attention, and low self-esteem.
Popular statuses on social media from your “ideal self” can make one feel relevant and accomplished. The “likes” or “re-tweets” can be compared to an award. It has become a habit for users to constantly check their phone for updates on how many likes, comments and shares they have.
The content that users decide to share have become more personal. Intimate details of relationships, friendships, jobs, are not kept a secret anymore. A Consumer Reports in a 2012 investigation indicates 13 million U.S. Facebook users are oversharing and don’t know it. What you share on the web can make or break you, especially when it comes to employment opportunities. According to Abine Inc., an online privacy company, your digital footprint says a lot about you, it’s extremely accessible, and the majority of employers are checking it.
As social media continues to emerge, it is becoming an essential representation of who we are in our everyday lives. Rather than focusing attention and effort into creating an ideal persona, social media should be used to network and accomplish the goals that align with our “real selves”. Forbes lists increased brand recognition as a benefit of using social media. It is an easy way to reach people who have various connections and similar goals. Keep in mind who your target audience is and what message you want to send to your followers before you post.