Before the Internet, the only way you’d have a whole page dedicated to you and you alone would be your birth certificate. It was either that, or take up a life of crime and become a wanted man. Fortunately, our ease of Internet access now allows us to create hundreds of different profiles on different platforms that are all about you: LinkedIn for your career, Facebook for the family and friends, Twitter for your topical side, and Tinder to get you laid. All are available at the swipe of a screen—talk about convenience.
Social media encourages you to invest more time into you, or rather into your avatar. I say that because it’s the carefully selected parts that you’ve allowed, the attractive parts. We have control over what others see and naturally we use it strategically. Enhancing the appearance of our lifestyle means that we spend time trying to look interesting day to day—so much so that it’s crafted how we behave in real life.
The arrival of the selfie is a solid example of how we’re committed to our online portfolios. Each night we go out results in endless uploads to every network. SnapChat story your group vodka shots, Instagram the selfie in the taxi, and check Facebook in a bid to not look awkward when you’re waiting for a friend.
It’s hard work living a double life, but it’s easier when you barely live your own. Most of the time this sacrifice is to expand on one’s Internet fame, to up that follower count. The sad part is they’re actually called followers, as if to hail you as some sort of digital messiah. Hardwired straight to your ego, this number gives you a false sense of entitlement, an affirmation for you to be as self-absorbed as you already are.
A lot of time and thought has gone into the dynamics of social media, especially the reward system. It keeps you hooked via what’s known as operant conditioning. Likes, retweets, favorites, and shares are all designed to psychologically reward you for your usage which will encourage you to use it more, especially because you don’t know when you’re going to get your next “reward” otherwise. This often causes you to mindlessly refresh your social media after you’ve posted something in the hope of some interaction or activity.
Social media is the New Age embodiment of narcissism; your profile holds your positive but unrealistic self-concept, it turns your friends/followers into nothing more than statistics, and it continually boosts your ego.
Social media isn’t about connecting with friends; it’s about self-validation, self-promotion, and enhancing your appearance while turning you ugly on the inside.