In a study by E. Mitchell Church and Ravi Thambusamy, “Competition and Information Deception in Online Social Networks”, they identified several causes behind one’s actions towards deception in the depiction of one’s personal information. One of which, is the pursuit of status, where one’s deceptively exaggerated personal profile can bring forth increases in status and/or prestige. Examples that were brought up in the study included 50 cent’s experience with bankruptcy. During bankruptcy, 50 cent decided to put up a facade of continuous wealth to maintain his status of being a wealthy celebrity.
In class, the question of whether results of such deception should be considered ‘real’ was brought up, whether social media if considered is real or not. If someone edited their picture on an online dating site to improve their image, should their improved profile be considered real or not? At first glance, this may be blatantly seen as artificial and fake, however, this is dependent on what I perceive as real or not. Just as we see people crafting, deceptively or not, online profiles, the concept of crafting one’s image to fit societal norms can be seen in person, in everyday life. Are we not all trying to be what a ‘likeable person’ is to our friends, our peers, or our society?
In the end, I believe that it all depends on to what level of ‘crafting’ do you consider deceptive, or real, your ability to perceive and identify different levels of crafting, and the intention associated with crafting one’s so called profile. For example, depending on whether you consider putting a filter, airbrushing and photoshop manipulation as real or not is entirely up to you. Adding on to this, many people who first see models online or in magazines, might think to themselves, “Wow, how does this person have such a perfect body” without the ability to determine what level of crafting if any has been done. However, once they are able to determine that a certain level of editing has been done to this ‘profile’, from there they are able to determine whether this level of crafting, according to their own standards can be considered real or not. However, in some cases, someone may extensively craft themselves with not the intention to be deceptive, and that is when determining the intention of someone is important in identifying whether their transformational result is ‘real’ or not.
As @lizfarlinger pointed out, the motivation for a person to craft themselves into something better is inherent to each and every person, “This is a basic human need via love/belonging as expressed in “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” so the basis of its existence is understandable from a psychological standpoint.” Therefore, since everyone will undergo a certain level of crafting in personality or personal profile, if one’s perception of what is real is at an extremely low level of crafting, it could be said that everything is not real; both social media and interactions in our physical world. However, considering everything as not real may limit one’s ability to fully experience the world, therefore a certain degree of tolerance to the extent of crafting of others may be needed, even to the extent of considering social media real. As a result, maybe what Church and Thambusamy commented on, the competition behind status in the form of social media profile deception should not be completely disregarded as fake, or negative. Perhaps, opening our perceptions to ‘personal profile deceptions’ in social media may allow us to further understand our interactions with one another. However, it depends on the person, as one’s perception of whats real is subjective, whether they recognize it or not.