Instagram has become the online version of the nightclub you used to go to every weekend. The one where you would begin to recognise faces, and if they didn’t turn up the next Saturday, you would spend the night thinking; “What else where they up to?”
Social media is today a “measurable” dimension of life itself. If someone posts regularly, or has a regular online presence, this must mean that they are leading a happy, positive life that is worthy of sharing. Whereas someone who is vapid in their social media use leads us to believe that they are not living a life that is worth following, ultimately leading to the question: “What else are they doing with their time? And why are they not sharing?”
The intensity of one´s own life is being translated in frequency of social media use. If someone is to use social media less frequently, we find ourselves defending or requesting explanations, as to the reason behind this scarcity. The paradox may be that a less prominent presence on social media means that that said person has a “good” or “better” quality of life; we must imagine them being busy living, indeed too busy to curate their digital lives. However, within a few moments of meeting someone, you have already logged their full name into your brain, debating whether they have an underscore or their birth year at the end; because ultimately you will go home and stalk their social media and judge them from that – rather than the conversation you had in person.
This is an age of intensity and we are all contributing to its many understandings, often to our very detriment. It is an age where employers will check social media profiles to determine whether you “suit” the company or the brand, rather than referring primarily to your work history and qualifications. It is an age where you are judged on the number of “followers” you have amassed through intangible platforms, rather than by genuine relationships or friendships.
As of June 2017, Instagram had one billion monthly active users. Social media platforms have become an addiction for most of their users, and more often than not, it can become too much. Increasing numbers of users are taking digital detoxes, or going on social media hiatus to focus on themselves and their “real lives” and not their online ones.
We cannot determine whether social media is a negative or positive realm of our lives. The value of these platforms resides in the function we attribute them. We can, however, trace the connection we make between what we see to be a life lived intensely, therefore a quality life, and the frequency and content of our social media personas. If these personas play an important role in our social life, we must then ask: “Are we fully in control of our digital personas? If not, who is?”
Words: Daisy Scott
Copy edited by Elena Stanciu
Image source: Studio-Output