Friday, July 19, 2013

Who am I? Building a social media identity

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” 

~ Oscar Wilde

I happened to meet a ex-colleague who I had mostly known through Facebook and the endless shares of Paulo Coelho quotes (and quotes by other well known thinkers and philosophers). I thought this would be a sorted guy. But, interacting with him completely altered my perceptions about him. It was a complete shocker! In fact I doubt that he really knew the meaning of most of the quotes he'd shared.

I've noted in my previous research and through my personal experiences that most of us are trying to curate an identity on social media. While this is fine, I've also observed that the perceptions of people that I get from their social media profiles tends to be quite opposite of what they are in reality.

Recent events seem to have taken this to an extreme. I was shocked to read a report at Silicon India talking about Young Indians Turning to Plastic Surgery for the Perfect Facebook Profile Picture". Following is an excerpt from the report.
Indians in their 20s and 30s are going under the knife to improve their social media pictures, as per a report by Vocativ, a news media start-up.
The report highlights that India, the nation that invented the nose job, is now also spearheading the new trend of "Facebook facelifts."
One woman who was interviewed said "If you don't look good on Facebook, then how will you make contacts?" as reported by LA Times.
One reason I believe we are heading in this direction is that we all like to be "liked" by others and thus we pursue the course of creating an identity of a person that would be noticed and accepted.

Clutter on social media does not occur only for brands. It is equally prevalent among individuals. You don't really see Facebook posts of all your friends and of course there are people you interestingly follow for their uniqueness or significance.To break through the clutter I've seen that people end up creating a digital self that they are not.

All discomfort comes from suppressing your true identity.Bryant H. McGill 

I personally don't think it is worth the time and effort and I have my doubts on its ill effects on mental health as well.

But then is it also important to build an identity on social media?

I think actions speak louder than words. Considering the obsession of Youth with social media, if time spent on social media (communication) is diverted towards action, it can increases the chances of success. The ones who are successful tend to be automatically liked and a classic example is of celebrities on social media.