At some point or another, we’re all guilty of forming an opinion of someone based solely on their social media. And it makes sense. It’s the quickest and easiest way to gain insight into a person’s life while putting in minimal effort. But how good of an insight does it really offer? Let’s put it this way. About ﬁve percent of my actual life is what you see on social media. Yet for those that do not know or work with me, it is also the most easily accessed source of information – and therefore, the main resource for piecing together an idea of who I am.
Having a high proﬁle account and a relatively large number of followers adds another kind of pressure, considering we get instant feedback for every single thing we put on social media. Do I post what gets better engagement? Or do I post what I want to post? Do I take down the photo I love so much of my little brother simply because it’s too personal? Or do I leave it because it’s my account, he’s my little brother, and I love him? And how do you balance responding to people who follow you while maintaining your personal space and privacy?
The problem is that no matter what you post, someone somewhere is going to take it the wrong way. And because I am mostly in the business world (while a large portion of my friends are in the entertainment industry), I have to be extra mindful of everything I post. Because whether we like it or not, in this day and age, our social media counts even before our resumes.
That’s not to say that I am against social media – I’ve obviously beneﬁted from it in many ways. It’s also not going to go anywhere anytime soon – so the real question is how do you harness its value, while maintaining a healthy relationship with it?
Personally, I use it as a networking tool and a weapon of validation. It’s a weapon of validation in the sense that it can take you straight to the source. It’s also an opportunity for me to maintain control of my own image and my own voice, which can be both a powerful tool and a method of self-defence. I can also reach out to people more quickly and know that I’m reaching the right person – and in turn, they can trust it’s actually me.
As emails, and even texting to an extent, become less and less common, I’ve turned to my social media to keep track of and in touch with friends. And now that I’m an expat and my friends and family are scattered across the globe, social media has become the ﬁrst line of communication for many of us and has allowed us to remain close, even when we are a million miles away.
Like most people, my personal feelings toward social media are certainly mixed. On one hand, we are all hostages to it. Last week, while walking to Arabic class, I decided to do a little experiment. I tried to count how many people were making eye contact with others, versus how many were glued to their phones. I can report back that the latter was higher by a staggering landslide.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve deleted all my social media apps off my phone – and even though I am always well aware that I will be reinstalling them a few days later. I think Kim got it right with her digital detox, even though social media is an important and integral part of her career, putting herself and her well-being ﬁrst was a brave and admirable move.
No matter how much social media may connect us to the world, there’s nothing that can replace a face-to-face connection. Social media may at times help me get my foot in the door, but it’s the personal interactions and conversations where relationships are solidiﬁed. While social media can be incredibly inspiring, it’s important to remember and protect your true self. It doesn’t matter how many apps you use – nothing can replace the beauty of authenticity. Sometimes it’s more powerful to step away from the Facetune and embrace all that life throws at us. Because that’s the other 95 percent of life that typically doesn’t make the feed – and it’s the most important part of all.