Two Different Personalities, One Person

Image Credits: Smosh [1]


 

In our modern day and age, new social media applications are popping up more than ever in our current digital age. The modern-day teenager has countless online social networks (OSN) to effectively portray an image of themselves that isn’t necessarily true. I see that my generation views social media as this tool to show the world our greatness and our high standing within society, even though some or most of that might be fabricated. As a society, we have come to put ourselves in this competition with our friends and against ourselves. Church and Thambusamy’s research paper “Competition and Information Deception in Online Social Networks” [2], they suggested that the competition against others is the driving force for many people to fall down the personal information deception (PID) trap. I find myself agreeing with what the article has to offer in the sense that people using social media tend to lie more about themselves to feed their ego.

The experiment conducted during the article was one where 499 university students were investigated on their social media usage patterns and stumbled upon information that is rather interesting but not shocking. The article tells us how people hold their data and privacy to be something scared and try as much as possible to give out as little information as possible. This leads the authors to talk about personal information deception (PID), where users omit certain details about themselves, create fake stories about themselves, or might even create new personas to “roleplay” in essentially. People are fixated on showing the positives of their lives to the point where they will try anything to conceal the harsh realities they might be facing. All of this is creating in order for the individual to reap status benefits, hedonic benefits, and competitive norms within our society, I believe that Trevor Tse’s article [3] echoes a similar tune to what I’m trying to ring here. I’ve seen it first hand where girls will pose for hours on end just to capture the perfect Instagram picture and post it in order to get more likes than their own friends. This competitive nature that we have built into our social media networks has created a zero-sum game [4] where this endless loop of likes will never end.

In the article, the authors said that there is a huge possibility that we aren’t exposed to our entire social media audience, hence why we want to portray ourselves in a richer taste in order to conform with societal norms. I believe that this is quite true in how we add people on Facebook whom we have only met once or twice. Especially now in university, where we add people whom we think we crossed paths with once or twice in class and ultimately end up not even knowing them for the next four years. When looking at my own Facebook page I realised that I have 491 friends, but how many of these 491 do I really know? This leads to us wanting to only post the best pictures and best moments of our lives, even when they might be fabricated just to suit the Facebook norms and get an X amount of likes. This naturally has led us to become more protective of our data and what we post on social media, I believe, which has caused the rise in popularity of applications like Snapchat where posts only last for 24 hours and are gone forever. As stated in Pradyota’s article [5], the hedonic benefits of social media have made our profiles into deeper background checks when we might apply for a job. We now want to protect our image and paint this picture of self-perfection because we never know when a lucrative job opportunity might pop-up or when might a rival try to degrade us. An example would be when English football player Andre Grey received a ban and fine for homophobic tweets we posted 4 years earlier [6]. This has led to this immense sense of competition amongst the people.

The research article, however, is not without its shortcomings in my eyes. I believe that the article doesn’t talk enough about how many social media websites have a huge number of inactive users or fake profiles that are only meant to be used once and discarded into the internet’s recycling bin. Avery’s article [7] talks about that as well, and he stated that “I discovered that Facebook currently has 2.27 billion users, but only 1.5 daily users. That does not even take into consideration what portion of these users are posting every day, or ever. This lack of recognition really starts to undermine the arguments and usefulness the authors suggest this article has when it is already non-applicable to 700 million users on a platform.”. I also see that the article overall has a negative overtone towards social media as a whole, which might lead to some biases. The article doesn’t make a distinction between how different age and ethnic groups might use and interact with social media. They also reinstated time and time again that competition in social media causes PID which is negative, however, is it always negative? This is another point where Trevor Tse [8] and I seem to agree, as many people might use PID in their social media accounts because they want to enjoy the application without the fear of being tracked. Especially nowadays where every single person’s feed has different ads that are specifically made to the user’s own interests.

I found myself agreeing more than disagreeing with the article and argument that the authors tried to make here. I believe that competition in social media is one of the base principles of a social media application which in return creates PID amongst its users. This current generation suffers the most, where we want to fish for likes and fake satisfaction from our peers and sadly I believe that I at times have fallen victim to that. This generation’s most famous artist, Drake, said this in one of his most recent songs, Emotionless [9], “I know a girl whose one goal was to visit Rome, Then she finally got to Rome, And all she did was post pictures for people at home, ‘Cause all that mattered was impressin’ everybody she’s known”

 

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