Misrepresentation in Online Personas

Credit: Jeff Bullas
Credit: Jeff Bullas

As you coast through your Facebook timeline, does it not seem that your “friends” are living a fabulous life? Do you ever feel a smidgen of discontent? Not even when you see the occasional notification that someone has gotten engaged or married? Or maybe it’s not personal relationships, but business successes that drive you a little crazy on the inside with each one you see? All the fun people seem to have on the weekends and holidays. Pictures of people on vacations, in restaurants [insert whatever gets you here].

Pardon the pun, but I don’t feed into it. It’s easy to marvel at the amazing lives your friends seem to lead, but everything is not always what it seems… especially when you consider how people selectively self-represent online. They aren’t sharing their real lives–they are sharing the life that they want to project. It’s easy to misrepresent yourself by only sharing things that frame you in a certain light, and omitting others. Everyone has their own TMI level (that is, oversharing), and for some it’s higher than others.

Of course, the opposite is true, too. Some people post a lot of negative status messages, cussing and complaining about even the smallest of gripes. Are they looking for comfort and using social media as therapy? A research paper published last year claims that emotionally unstable or depressed people who are socially apprehensive are likely to rely on online expression and engagement because it is less threatening.

Don’t ever feel like you’re missing out based on what you see your friends and acquaintances post on social media. You can craft whatever persona you like. A whole lot of self-filtering is going on, not to mention social media narcissism.  Unfollow, hide or delete the folks you don’t need to hear from, and keep it moving.  What matters most is what we do when we’re not behind a screen–whether we share it or not.

Are you addicted to any of the media in the graphic above? Do you tend to overshare? What are your social media habits?