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In these social media times we live in, it seems that virtual reality has become reality. Or at least our smartphone updates have allowed those who read/view them to believe they know us and make judgements about us, even if they’ve only briefly met us or indeed never have at all.
Of course social media profiling is not just a lonely layperson’s pastime. Companies often check out the Facebook pages, tweets, Instagram photos and what have you of prospective employees to ‘get a feel’ for the person in question before saying ‘yea’ or ‘nay’. In some cases, that may be pre-interview selection, thus a decision is taken on your personality or suitability before they’ve actually met you. At times that might be a good thing, on other occasions not so.
It does, nonetheless, beg the question: Does how we portray ourselves on social media reflect accurately how our real lives actually are?
We may post fairly honestly, but for the majority of us these are just snapshots in time, brief moments detailing some particular aspect of our life that we feel is worthy of sharing. (Whether we should bother to share these things at all is a valid consideration; maybe those of us who do it will get over this phase as we come to terms with the continuously evolving social media landscape.)
The more mundane, everyday aspects of our lives usually aren’t publicised — at least that’s how it is for most people. It’s a highlights package of sorts, and often a very skewed one.
Moreover, what is ‘put out there’ is open to falsities and manipulation. Just as someone can lie to you about themselves in person, it can be done, but with greater ease, virtually.
In terms of on-line discussions — Facebook debates for example — there’s the issue of tone and sentiment perhaps not coming across as intended by the writer. Linked to that, some people can write in a rather aggressive, argumentative manner when in reality they’re big ‘softies’ so to put it. ‘Virtual warriors, real-life sheep’ you could say.
As has been posted on this blog before, all these social media outlets are just tools, and like any tool they can be used in a productive way or improperly. A lot of the time ‘user restraint’ is advised. Completely switching off from them may be almost impossible for some people in certain lines of work, but letting them dominate your life doesn’t seem the best idea.
There is a real world out there, distinct from the social media one. It’s not always the case that ‘we are what we tweet’, despite what some people may think.
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