If Abraham Maslow had lived in our digital age, he might have considered including “a need for an impeccable social media profile” among other fundamental human needs. All social media platforms today seem to provide us with more and more chances to fulfill our needs for love, belonging and self-esteem.
“Facebook Likes and Twitter Favorites” are supposed to make us feel more love, a variety of groups and forums seem to increase our sense of belonging and a great number of followers is another criterion for us to feel recognized and respected and increase our sense of self-esteem. But the question is,
“Do social media really make us feel more love, belonging and self-esteem? Or this is just an illusion we desperately want to believe in?”
To dig even deeper, we have integrated a “cool trend” into our lives to prove everyone out there how awesome our life is, how successful we are, how blessed we are to be friends or in a relationship with someone. We have that need to convince everyone in our networks about the perfect life we are living. But the question is,
“Is our life truly as perfect as we are representing it in social media?”
Example. We have that urge to tell everyone how amazing time we are having with our friends by means of a cool selfie, and check-ins in some Japanese restaurant. Yet, behind the photo of smiling and happy friends, are people who have lost the sense of true connection with each other, are those who have just forgotten what it means to look into each other’s eyes and feel deep emotions beyond the words they hear.
What was the last time you went out with your friends and felt true interest, connection and presence (obviously I do not mean physical presence) when you shared your excitement about your new project or when you talked about some awkward experience you had recently?
8 out of 10 cases your excitement slowly faded away, as your friend started chatting with other friends online, or checking out who liked their photo or what is going on in their newsfeed or… all at the same time. Sounds familiar, right?
Another example. Our morning jog or workout in the gym would be incomplete if we do not post that cool pic in social media trying to teach our followers how important healthy living is. Yet behind scenes are so many morning jogs and gym workouts that we have missed and junk food we have eaten. But we hardly ever share on social media what a shitty feeling it is not to keep our promises. Why? Because that will cast doubt on our perfect social media profiles we are so “happy” with.
What if we make an experiment and ask an active social media user who is traveling to Hawaii not to post any single-pic from Hawaii beaches, or one showing the breathtaking view from their hotel window, telling the world how amazing their vacation is! I am almost sure that it will be a “heart-breaking challenge for the participant of the experiment”, who might think, “What is the point of traveling to Hawaii if nobody is going to know about my trip?”
Social media has also changed the way we are getting to know each other. We are in the trend of learning about our recent acquaintances not by having authentic and heart-to-heart conversations, but by surfing through their social media profiles. The problem here is that we fail to understand that social media profile is just a tiny part of one’s identity (and not always true one) and there is so much about a person than their photos, posts and shares.
The reality is that we all got a chance to create fabricated images about ourselves and our lives to the point where our “perfect timeline” on Facebook is more attractive and more important to us than our real life experiences. It does not matter whether you truly enjoyed your trip abroad or not, what matters is that your “friends and followers” know you have been there and it was such an amazing experience!
It does not matter whether you enjoyed your night out with friends, what matters is that your ex knows that “you are happy without him/her”. The list can go on and on… Yes, social media provide perfect tools to lie whomever we want, but it can never make us believe in our own lies.
Many people today are putting efforts to block from their profiles anything that will question their perfect identity because they know that job recruiters are looking at the applicants’ social media profiles during the selection process. Well, it makes sense that you need to present yourself in the best light possible in order to get your dream job.
Yet, what a big difference there would be in the world if we all tried to be so impeccable in our every day tiny actions, day-to-day life as we are in our social media profiles? But how many of us are trying as hard to make our real-life personality as impeccable, as our social-media image?
- It is way easier to post some call for humanity, rather than to help that stranger on the street who may desperately need someone’s help.
- It is way easier to share some quotes about what true friendship is, rather than to be a supportive true friend in real life.
- A lot more things are way easier to “do” and to “be” online rather than in real-life.
Takeaway: At the end of the day, we are defined not by the way we behave when we are in the spotlight, but the actions we take when nobody is watching us. To me, true happiness is when you are so happy with the present moment that you just forget to make a status update and prove everyone how happy you are!
P.S. I believe that social media are amazingly powerful to connect people and share ideas, empower each other and spread positive changes in the world. Meanwhile, I am convinced that it is our real-life actions, not our posts or shares that is a true measure of who we are.