Social media: Self-discovery or self-reformation?

By Maria Stefanie Meraklis, Contributing Writer

What would a day be like without our cell phones? Ok, people might panic, but how about imagining a day without social media? Millions of apps are available to everyone with a mobile device and everyone can be anyone they desire to be by showcasing an enhanced version of themselves. Filters pop up daily helping users promote their best attributes.  Whether it’s posting selfies on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, or advertising their artistic talents on Etsy, YouTube, and Soundcloud, people are increasingly using the web for self-promotion.

Are people relying on social media to feel significant? Author of “Mirror, Mirror On the Web”, Lakshmi Chaudhry states “For all the talk about coming, together, Web 2.0’s greatest successes have capitalized on our need to feel significant and admired and above all, to be seen”.

People in the Self-discovery Group believe social media has blinded users of true self-identity and even more prominently has deluded engagement in their community. Convincingly, the Self-discovery Group agrees that social media has spiked a false sense of identity, increasing narcissism and decreasing the value of a genuine community.

There is no denying that billions of social media users want to be liked, loved and even more.. discovered. The Self-discovery group believes social sharing has inevitability led users to continuously use social media apps to feel important.

In relation, Chaudry a graduate of Political Science and holds an M.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University, claims our efforts at self-promotion lies within the intimate relationship between mass media and fame. Chaudry writes in “Mirror Mirror On the Web”, “Fame is now reduced to its most basic ingredient: public attention.” Being famous has become the “American Dream” where people seek the extravaganza of opportunities online. It is obvious the increase of the internet use has opened a door way of opportunities or a false chance.

Relatively The Self-discovery group points out the endless opportunities to be liked, shared and seen on the web, has led users to carefully edit their identity for a better chance of going viral. Perhaps the feedback on social media has elevated one’s perception of one’s identity. The Social-group and Chaudry advocate the idea, individualism has had on a substantial generational shift in self-worth. And the spike in narcissism is linked to the overall growth of egoism. Stated in her article Chaudry writes, “The idea that every self is important has been redefined to suit the needs of a cultural marketplace that devalues genuine community and selfhood in favor of “success”. The status of self has converted to a means of advertisement, marketing ourselves for attention.

It is evident the spike in narcissism fueled by social media has cheapened the genuine community.

When public attention has become available at the palm of our hand, how can we expect people to look up to see where they are standing never mind living or even more ridiculous, where they are walking to. One perspective from the Self-discovery group, Chelsea Wald an Astronomy graduate of Columbia University and a master’s in Journalism from the University of Indiana argues that narcissism derives from a different dwelling of self.

Written in her article, “Is Facebook Luring You Into being Depressed?” Wald shares the idea of social media being a “Magic Kingdom” where one can create their own fairytale. “Through probing interviews, surveys, longitudinal studies, and laboratory experiments, researches have begun to shift the paradigm, revealing that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and their ilk are places not only of fun and success, but of dark, confronting, and primal human emotions—less Magic Kingdom and more creepy fun house.”

The idea of feeling significant now appears to be a façade. Wald argues we are in a constant state of comparison. Is social media like Facebook, causing us to feel sadder? She explains that people are naturally drawn to individuals who are of high status and its only in our natural competitive nature to want to promote ourselves while cropping out the sad stuff. Wald highlights, our growing narcissistic character is leading us to be less sympathetic in this detached reality. Social media has lured us in a twisting false sense of identity separating us from the real world.

Considerably the Self-discovery group and Chaudhry believe Social Media has altered an individual’s authenticity. With so many options on how to share yourself with the world it is hard NOT to get manipulated on what is true self vs what is merely a character we illustrate of who we want to be. The self-discovery group couldn’t be more accurate on their perception on social media users.  I agree the constant urgency of posting about ourselves in hopes of being recognized has lead us to be self-absorbed. Searching the web for likes has created a whole new world where we don’t even notice the changes around us.

Is it bad to only want to share the good aspect of our identity when the chances of being seen by billions of social media users worldwide are increasingly high?

It comes to the point when we lose legitimacy in self we lose the quality in community. Opposing arguments might reason that social media helps build confidence. Those who might not be likely to engage in physical social gatherings are more applicable to do so in the comfort of their own setting. Being able to edit post and delete actions on social media makes it easier for people with low self-esteem to interact more in social settings, even if it is a digital one.

Arguably making a strong point by suggesting interaction online increases the possibility of people with low self-esteem to participate in actual social settings. This still does not avoid the matter of self-editing becomes a priority and devalues the genuineness of community. Millions of apps have sprung progressively. “Social overload” has influenced us to be emerged in this false sense of identity. Obsessing how others view us has altered our perception of who we are. Can we hold everyone accountable?

Many aspiring individuals use social media for promotion and as a form for group organizations. The issue is when promotion becomes intensely focused on self that we become narcissistic leading to the sense of entitlement.

There are many inspiring stories on artist becoming famous from recognition on social media. But please ask your “self”, is fame going to make you happy?

The communities around us were built by people and created in such a way that there is so much to discover in our very own neighborhood. We should have a little more faith in humanity and teach one another, especially youth, the true meaning of community. In conclusion it is only humane to want to be liked, loved and discovered but most importantly, to belong.

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