Knowingly or unknowingly, we have two lives to live. Shape them or let them be shaped? That’s the question.
We are living two lives nowadays. One can imagine that growing up is hard, and now growing up two lives?
Like it or not, millennials and Gen X are going through this and the baby boomer mamas and papas too are having a semblance of this, though not-in-the-face whole shebang.
The two lives I mean are the real life and online life. The personas in the parallel dimension, however, can different as night and day, much influenced by the dictates and norms of social media.
For my generation, we tend to be more at ease in the social media dimension. There is somewhat a wall that shields us from fear of instant judgement that we can be subjected to in real-life human interaction. Inhibitions are stripped. Our real persona can surface, without concerns of real world social norms.
So, some of us young ones tend to be more inclined, given freedom from prohibitive social norm restrictions, to give more importance to how we project ourselves online.
Unknowingly, we are shaping a who we are that is our preferred or ideal persona different from real life.
And on the flipside, this virtual persona may also, in turn and over time, influence and mould our real life.
Intriguing? Let me explain.
Let us take the example of Peter. He has set up his Facebook and Instagram accounts. He made public his personal information like birth date, horoscope, and areas of interest (eg dogs) on his profile.
Then, he started to add and follow his real-life friends on these social media platforms. Ever since then, his friends start tagging him on posts especially in those that relate to his areas of interest with, of course, their COMMENTS like: “I think of you when I see this post (with a ‘sarcastic face’ or ‘sad face’ emoji) @Peter”.
This tagging may start to include more people, opinions, and thoughts. Each time, when everybody sees postings of video, photos and stories of dog they will think of Peter because of his canine interest. This eventually builds up and shapes Peter’s identity – one that is different from real life in which he can’t even have a pet dog because of his allergy to animal fur.
This simple illustration depicts how there can be two lives to live as we increasingly use social media platforms and inevitably, showcase who we are.
What we do usually share on social media – interests, relationships, achievements, memories, emotions, etc. – creates an identity of what we want to be perceived as or even shape for us, the perceptions others have of us.
Perceptions of us by others can be influenced and shaped by how we respond for example to comments and postings on social media. It is human nature to be sensitive to comments.
Just like how we handle ourselves being free from restrictions to social norms of real life, we can be free and have tendency to be unguarded in our responses on social media.
Like it or not, such knee-jerk and trigger-happy reactions to what we consider unfavourable comments do shape how others view us and may even cross virtual borders and eventually change our real life persona.
We can change and improve ourselves from comments and postings on social media. Likewise, we can swing the other direction. We need to be careful in how we want our new us to be. Live our two lives right. Lines can be blurred.