Does Social Media Presence Truly Reflect a Person?

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Stephanie BenaciRegister Contributor :

Last weekend I went on a date. Everything was perfect: we shared the same values; we both have an extreme sense of humor, but one thing the person said made me step back. While discussing what type of music we both prefer they interrupted me and said, “Yea I know. You’re weird. I be seeing your Instagram post.”

(Now I should’ve thrown some shade for them saying, “I be seeing” but I digress.)

The problem wasn’t what they said because by now I’m pretty sure they know I’m pretty strange, but the manner in which the said it. It was as if that was all there is to me, as if through my post they obtained total transparency to who I am.

It made me wonder, does social media presence harnesse our ability to make assumptions about people? The answer is yes of course, but the problem arises when it causes you to be dismissive of someone you don’t know.

Here’s a scenario: You follow someone on Instagram because their posts relates to you. The more you see their post, the more you begin to piece together who you think they are.

You have met them in person or maybe even observed them from afar, and they are “not what they seem like.” Maybe they weren’t dressed to your liking, or they were too hype, or just too out spoken. Either way, you followed suit:  observe, find something that is dissatisfying to you, make assumptions, share assumptions, repeat.

Social media fosters people’s ability to judge by giving people the freedom to like, dislike, add, and delete other people from their lives. We are on social media from morning to night, and in the process we transfer online habits into the real world. Our attention span is getting shorter, and we don’t really meet people in person any more: we snoop on their pages and if we like what we see,  we then follow them on Instagram or Twitter.

Think of how popular and easy it has become to “cut people off” or stop talking to them because of something minuscule. Have you ever seen someone on campus and all you could refer to them by is that one post that had you side-eyeing? Or you saw someone attractive and instead of speaking to them, you go look for their page? I’m not judging at all because I’ve done some of these things too, but one day I had to step back from these cyber faux pas.

The qualities that everyone possesses cannot be transferred or accurately displayed on social media. It’s like the difference between witnessing a friend’s joke in person versus reading it in a text. There’s something about the way they change their tone or put emphasis on certain words that makes it that much funnier face to face. These are experiences the cyber world can mimic, but can’t fully satisfy.  Social media does not allow people to see the colorful spectrum of our personality.

My point is that we are missing the bigger picture. We are three-dimensional beings with layers to who we really are. All of us have gone through a pain of some sort. We’ve had love for another human being, and maybe even got a little ‘buck’ once upon a time.

Some people put it all out for the world to see, some of us give details here and there, and others strategically post for best representation. All of these are fine, but just as you are a bundle of numerous attributes and experiences someone else is too. Throwing shade at them won’t help you shine.

With the resources we have are we portraying our true self? The ‘media gangster’, ’earth woman’, ‘ladies’ man’, ‘strip club baller’, and ‘risqué woman’ have all popped up on our timelines before. Even these internet personalities, have other personalities. Not all but, some people try to compensate for what they lack in real life with their posts. They rely on the likes and instant gratification, to satisfy how they feel about themselves. An unhealthy habit, but that’s for them to rid themselves of. Sometimes you have to leave people to their own vices, at the end of the day we are all creating and living in our own realities.

Now that we are in a new year, let’s make bigger strides to overcoming our internet influenced habits. Meet someone whose page you haven’t run into before? If you don’t like someone’s page or post don’t assume that’s all they are. Try to understand someone’s perspective even if it doesn’t apply to you. You could learn something new!