How real is the online world?

Presently, people feel compelled to capture every moment of their lives online for others to see. They select carefully curated images of themselves or of their surroundings in order to portray this impeccable version of themselves. Social media has given rise to this new generation who are in a sense self-obsessed. We are currently living in an era professed as the selfie generation.

However, garnering followers on say Instagram, does not end with just taking selfies. For many it has become second nature to showcase your meal online for others to see. We have become so accustomed to doing so that such an act is rarely ever questioned.

Dining out is not the same as it was pre smartphones and social media. It has become common practice to share photographs of your meal online. Nowadays, people jokingly ask whether something really happened if you fail to upload a photograph of yourself partaking in an activity on social media. Although, such a question is asked humorously, when reflected upon it makes one ponder whether this really has become a concern for some. When looking at it from a psychological perspective, one begins to realise that at its core it stems from a desire to seek the approval of others. Craving approval and validation from other people is certainly not a recent phenomenon, however, I believe that with the advent of social media this deep rooted need has greatly intensified, and has become more pervasive especially in the online world.

What has become so peculiar is the notion of going to a restaurant or café solely for the purpose to take a photograph. With this being said, funnily enough the reverse has transpired. Individuals now seek out trendy establishments or scenic locations specifically with the intention of going there to upload a photograph of themselves. Undoubtedly, social media particularly Instagram, has become such an integral part of our lives that people have even coined the phrase “doing it for the gram”.

Enjoying moments with others and fully taking in an experience without technology has become a difficult feat to accomplish. Admittedly, although technological advancements have enriched our lives in many ways, such as being able to connect and share content with our friends and family for example, it has also compromised our day to day life. Technology, is a double edged sword, as many of us struggle with putting our devices away for a significant about of time, and to truly live in the present moment without reaching for our phones. Our smartphones have become a sort of crutch or security blanket for us, whereby we rely on it for the least thing, and we would never dream of leaving the house without it. Our smartphones are always at arm’s reach never leaving our side.

The purpose of social media is to make us more social by being able to connect with anyone in the world whenever we choose to do so. However, how social does it really make us? If we are glued to our devices at all times of the day, distracting us from what is going on around us, does it really do what its name implies? It is commonplace to go out and about in society and see a group of friends sitting in silence endlessly scrolling through their phones, or to see individuals on a night out hardly interacting and then taking a photograph of themselves and acting like they were having the time of their lives. It has also become the norm that at a concert rather than taking in the mesmerising experience of seeing your favourite artist perform on stage, you view the concert through the screen on your smartphone, as you feel driven to record it for keepsake and to upload snippets of it online for your followers to watch. We may even judge others for doing so, however, if we all were to think back we would all be able to recall a moment when we too were not fully engaging in the present moment.

Somebody’s profile on a social media platform can be said to be an illusion, as, if everything is edited, and only the happy moments in one’s life are shown, can we really say that their profile truly represents them as a whole? What is shown online is usually the highlights of one’s life, and even then those moments are not always accurately represented. Thus, are we unable to base our opinions regarding somebody’s life from we only see online. However, despite knowing all this, many of us still fall victim to believing what we see online to be true.