By Monika Barta
According to a Pew Research Center study, about 65 percent of adult Americans use social media. Social media expands our knowledge and interest in a broad variety of subjects, thus shaping our views. It also alters our self-perception and how we present ourselves to others in this context.
Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms provide entertainment and a distraction we often need. However, the user profiles can tell quite a bit about the person who is operating on the other side of the screen, and the users know it. The significance of self-portrayal on social media has been long recognized and discussed on and off-line. The pictures and statuses are often revised and polished by those who post them, and the numbers of followers or likes are closely observed and interpreted by the receivers. These factors serve as a sudden introduction of self to the online world.
Similarly to the life simulation video game Sims, social media platforms provide a possibility of self-modeling and creating online-identities, with no commitment to accurate representation. The users of social media have an option to control the levels of their privacy, picking out and uploading only the most attractive bits and pieces of their lives.
Social acceptance is an important factor that more or less influences one’s self-esteem. According to researchnews.osu.edu, social acceptance directly affects mental and physical health. Thus social media gives people partial control over of an important life aspect and also lays the successful ground for a business that provides ways to improve and alter the publicly accessible self.
Today, anybody who wants to become more noticed in the realm of social media can basically buy their own popularity by one tap on the smartphone screen. The app store is overloaded with programs that can make you perfect in a matter of seconds. You don’t like your skin or forgot to put on makeup this morning but happened to take a selfie on the way to school? No problem! A broad variety of simplified photo-editing apps is here for you! You forgot to tell the waiter you wanted a side of salad instead of fries? Your jeans don’t seem to fit you well? Forget the gym and don’t start the new diet until you check out all that is offered by different thin booth apps for free. You lost a follower? Your friend is getting twice as many likes on a food pic as your selfie does on a good day? Well don’t get upset because you can buy followers, likes, and even comments and all you have to do is download a couple of apps. Todd Leopold, reporting for CNN, notes that likes on social media actually result in a boost of Dopamine levels.
So has social media actually become the modern key to happiness? Apparently not: according to Adrienne Erin, a social media marketing writer, time spent on Facebook is directly linked to depression. The reason behind this phenomenon is simple. Today, when the question of one’s popularity and social acceptance is related rather to personal investment levels while painting the perfect online-self than to actual talents, attractiveness, or social skills, social media becomes a perfect platform for an ever-growing competition of distorted reality. According Selfie-Loathing, posted on slate.com, the constant exposure to social media newsfeeds filled with seemingly perfect lives of others results in feelings of resentment and envy.