Social Media And The Masks We Wear
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Social Media And The Masks We Wear

We're not always who we pretend to be.

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Social Media And The Masks We Wear
Pixabay

Creating online profiles is an interesting thing; you can sculpt yourself into a new person, invent a personality for the worldwide audience to see of you. You can create a troll account, or become your ideal self and crop your life to show the person you think others want you to be.

Happy, healthy, living it up at parties with friends and having wild adventures.

But what about the things people don't post about? What do the lives of your friends and even your celebrity idols really look like?

You can't always be sure of that, but you can be sure you're not seeing the full picture. Everyone has their own posting habits. Some people are honest and open about their lives, documenting every moment. Others post pictures of parties they attend, friends they hang out with, or just the occasional selfie with a filter to match their artistic personality.

It's okay to be any of these people. You're not obligated to cater to anyone's expectations of your social media presence. I can imagine it's a little different for people in the spotlight, but for the average person, there's no obligation. And yet I think a lot of people get the feeling they need to portray themselves a certain way. There's a pressure to communicate your life and experiences in a way that is perfect - or sometimes, perfectly imperfect.

You might feel like you need to keep some things in, and not show your friends or family the less glamorous parts of your life. Keep your mouth shut about anything going wrong and pretend that everything's right.

On the flip-side, maybe you've decided to be completely open and wear your heart on your sleeve—or, well, your keyboard. You feel the need to be honest about how you're feeling and what you're doing, even when it's not pretty.

What's important to remember is that you have options. You are not obligated to look like you're living the life other people want you to live, and you're not obligated to be open and honest about everything either—especially on a social media platform. You're allowed to censor what you want, be honest about what you want—and keep whatever else to yourself. You don't need to sacrifice your own comfort in order for your friends to have a good story to read.

The public portrayal you choose to create for yourself online is your own. You're allowed to make a transition from a high-profile online presence to a low-profile one. If anyone's worried about what they do or don't see on your accounts, they can reach out in other ways. You don't need Facebook Messenger to let someone know you care.

As for the pressure to look a certain way online—loving life or eating carefully constructed plates of food—you have no obligation to cater to the expectations of others in that sense either. I've never been Instagram famous, or any other kind of famous, but I can imagine there's a lot of pressure in maintaining a certain persona online. You have to look "right," say the "right" things, post the "right" pictures and send the "right" messages. If your profile has a theme, there might be pressure to stick within the confines of what you think you're supposed to talk about, and omit the rest even if you feel it's important to what's going on in your life.

Individuals who do get situated in the spotlight most likely build a tolerance to hateful or hurtful responses, but they're still people. You don't get to dehumanize someone once they've reached one million followers or have been featured on Good Morning America . If you have any reason to believe they're not human and rather something far superior, then I'd be interested in hearing any theories. But as it is, popular figures online and in the media were born on the same Earth as us not-Beyonce peasants, and as long as they don't threaten the existence of others, they deserve basic respect. If these idols of yours show a side of themselves that you don't like through a tweet or Facebook post, then that's them—or their publicist—taking ownership of who they are, and that's not for you to argue.

Not every person you see online is who they appear to be, and that's their decision to make. How you depict your life online is your decision, too. If you resolve to share your most intimate details or withhold them, that's your decision to make and there's no obligation for you to do any differently. Depending on your occupation, there may be pressure to maintain a sense of professionalism on social media, but ultimately, resolving whether or not to adhere to that pressure is your decision to make—come what may.

Taking into consideration your own self-portrayal on social media can lead you to be more aware of the presence of others online as well, especially your friends and family. To reiterate, if you're concerned about someone based on what you see of them online, or want to know more about them, reach out in ways outside of the public eye.

A person's online presence holds no promises.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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