Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Perfect images: Online versions of ourselves can’t give true confidence

Patrick Nygren/Flickr
(Patrik Nygren/Flickr)

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? If you’re like most people our age, you drowsily snooze your alarm clock and reach over to grab your phone. You check your texts, your emails, maybe Facebook or your Instagram to see if you got any late night likes on that picture of your dinner you put up yesterday. You don’t even think about doing this, looking for your phone first thing in the morning is just what you do now. And you’ll continue to reach for it throughout the day. Patting your pocket just to make sure it’s in there. Clicking on your favorite social media apps anytime you feel slightly bored. Even misplacing your phone for a few seconds stirs panic in your chest. It’s as ingrained in our routines as anything else.

Social media can be a positive tool. It’s easier to stay connected now than it’s ever been. Just click on to an old friend’s page and you can be instantly up to date on all the little details of their life they feel like sharing. You can follow newspapers, or even the president on Twitter to receive breaking news and stay up to date with the world. Social media has exploded within the past decade. I remember first getting a Myspace and how big deal it was. Now, almost everyone I know has at least three accounts on different social apps. Despite all of the positives surrounding social media, you have to think about what parts of us it’s hurting.

We’re all acquainted with FOMO, or fear of missing out. Social media has taken this to a whole new level. Nobody is going to post a picture of themselves in on a Friday night watching Netflix. Instead, they’ll put up a throw back picture of them out at the bar last week. You won’t see any photos on your feed of a couple arguing, slamming doors, or a tear streaked face. Instead you’ll see the bouquet of “just because” flowers some girl from your high school just received, courtesy of the perfect boyfriend. And you’ll start to feel inadequate.

A person can build an entire personality off of an Instagram account by choosing the right photos to display. Want to appear deep and intellectual? Flood your feed with pictures of you browsing art museums, a coffee in hand. Want to appear fun-loving and carefree? Post a few “candid” laughing pictures, paired with some friendship quotes and emojis. The personalities that we carve out for ourselves online hardly ever match up with the ones we possess in reality.

Understandably, people display the best aspects of their lives on social media. Because of that, we look at the posts of people we often aren’t even good friends with and think, “Why doesn’t my life look like that?” We’ve entered into some sort of brag culture, and it isn’t benefiting any of us. As we constantly try to prove to the rest of the world that we’re living our lives to the fullest, internally we know that it isn’t true. By comparing ourselves to the things we see posted on social media, we’re comparing ourselves to unrealistic, “perfect” standards.

I’ve seen numerous friends, of both genders, delete pictures they post because they don’t have more likes than the minutes the picture has been up. Abiding by standards such as these tell us one thing – if others don’t give us their approval on something, it’s not worth anything. We take this as a personal assessment of ourselves, even associating it with our character. If enough people don’t like your picture, maybe it’s because of you. You’re not good enough. You didn’t look pretty or happy enough. This is a dangerous way to think. Social media allows other people to decide our self worth, instead of us deciding it for ourselves.

Comparing ourselves to the images on our screens is a dangerous habit that our generation seems to have developed. Before we get too caught up in our online appearances, we need to understand that no amount of likes we receive will be able to give us true self-confidence. A profile isn’t a person.

Katrina Kervin is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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    kassidyOct 8, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    *insert fire flame emoji here *