This post started from reading this hilarious post by twenty-something Olivia Muenter. She, very wittily, makes a good point about social media. We present the “Good Parts Version” (GPV) of ourselves to the world, hoping for approval.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
I’m always mildly surprised when someone seems outraged at this truth. This is what we ALL do, whether on social media, work, or the local party scene. We try to present the GPV of ourselves. How we’d like others to see us. Sometimes we’re successful, sometimes, not so much. The effort to maintain the GPV in person is huge. Psychologically, emotionally, and mentally, we can’t do it for long periods of time – we need pajama-wearing, bedhead, zit-face, no shower days to recover (whether introverted or extroverted). Social media lets us present the GPV without all the prior prepping or the post-party recovery. We take snapshots of our mini-GPV moments and Instagram, Tweet, and Facebook posts, getting a LOT of mileage from one “perfect” moment.
Staged or not, I think GPVs are an external expression of an internal perspective.
Selfies (and indeed, the business of posting on social media in general) is fascinating to me. Some people post pics that are hilariously funny and self-deprecating (not for these people the perfectly composed, light-balanced froufrou visuals); others carefully stage-manage everything about the final posted product, still others post pics that are apparently intended to convey some sense of their “real” life (me killing a deer) …or the life they happen to be living for the 1o seconds it took to push that round button (half nekkid, drinks-brandishing, inebriated Spring Break pics come to mind).
My thought is that these pics, whatever form they take, are not lies per se, but rather a momentary alignment of internal and external. Sure. I get that people set out to deliberately deceive (scumbag pedos and trolls come to mind) but the vast majority of people who embrace social media in its more visual form aren’t, with malice aforethought, pretending to be someone they aren’t (Twitter handle notwithstanding). They take that picture because, in that moment, something about the situation allows for an external expression of an internal feeling, thought. wish or idea. And in today’s world, that convergence is quickly captured by some-or-other device.
Olivia’s article is very very funny. It’s like she’s living in parallel universes. The World of Perfect Moments and the World of Now. I love the contrast between how she needs to arrange everything just so for the GPV and the hilarious apparent mess of actually being her. The inner needs expression (that shoe spiral kills me) but the outer is late for class.
Is she lying? I don’t think so. Others may disagree, but somewhere in the person that her boyfriend, roommates, fellow students, people experience, is the potential for Perfect Moments …and sometimes, thanks to handy dandy smart gadgets and iThingies, she’s able to capture that ethereal inner wisp and translate it into an image the world of social media then proceeds to approve …or not.
I personally think that’s pretty damn courageous.
Deliberate deception – the intentional attempt to lead others to believe that which is known to be false – is something else entirely. I think the majority of people posting GPV pics or selfies in some way identify at that moment with what they’re posting. Self-deception? Maybe. But who cares?
More about selfies and social media here, here, and for another perspective, here.