Are any of us the person we portray on social media?

Social media you versus the actual you

Written by Neil Mc Allister


If you’re frequently on particular social media websites, then you probably know that no person is exactly the same in the flesh as they present themselves on social media; whether it’s a selfie with complementary lighting, a near-insane obsession with cute animals; or being a lot more talkative and articulate. There are various ways in which we distort our perspectives of ourselves. I don’t mean this as being conceited or malicious, it’s a part of human nature that we try to create a presentable version of our lives, which is all well and good as long as we are aware and don’t apply exactly the same logic to our real lives. Sounds simple enough, but it does go over people’s heads, including myself. Here are a few types of ways that you may represent (or misrepresent) yourself on social media.

Your life is a totally happy existence (of course it’s not)

Every person would ideally like to live with as much happiness and little misery as possible. Some people manage to more or less achieve this goal, others don’t. For the latter, sometimes bliss is ignorance and we can live our lives without making comparisons to others in our lives; this does become a lot more difficult with social media. Where as you can be happy for the person who got a new car, it might leave you wondering how you can possibly afford one, barely making enough money for a living.  Sometimes we give each other the ILLUSION that we’re all happy, vibrant and charismatic 100% of the time. And seeing this meticulously stage managed version of our friends’ lives, makes us feel that there’s something wrong with us if we’re not living up to the same amount of excitement. And I’ve unfortunately felt this way before.

Being smart and funny with extra time to form sentences

Making witty jokes on Facebook is probably one of the main reasons I use it to begin with; I get enjoyment from making people laugh at my jokes. Am I as equally witty in person as I would be in person? No, not entirely. Jokes do require time to think of, and of course Facebook allows for that. I can usually conjure up a humorous response to a status in 10 – 20 secs when I feel I have one. Such convenient time isn’t nearly as of avail in real life conversation of course, and unless you’re a professional comedian you probably won’t be able to react. This can be said the same for intellectual debates on social media, versus real-life conversation. You might have an easier time forming your sentences and swaying others to your opinion having time to write.

Being defined by your own interests

It’s great if you have an honest interest in politics and the happenings of the world. And I highlight that world “honest”; you’re not sharing political articles to try and come across as intellectual (yes there are those that do that), but rather to support an opinion or state one of your own. There are the sort of people of social media who also have the habit of sharing articles so much that are nearly defined by their traits; you might know a highly enthusiastic feminist who is also highly enthusiastic about cute puppies, because they post nothing else but articles related to feminism and puppies. Of course there is much more to this person in real life, but on social media they can be a bit of a caricature as a result of pursuing their own interests on social media.

You talk more on social media than you do in real life

For a person who generally struggles to hold a conversation for lengthy periods, social media can be an appealing way to communicate. All of that is good once you don’t form the habit of using it excessively. There is probably a person you know who puts up too many statuses or tags their friends in too many posts on Facebook. This may exhibit the signs of an annoying personality, but often I’ve often found that in real life they aren’t this sort of person at all, with my experience at least. Goes to show the difference between the “Social Media” person and the “Real” person.

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