A virtual world for “me”:

Being on(line) means – we must add value, always be available, be current and also flawless. While we perfect ourselves, we must also capture our journey on a public stage. We must belong in the world, in the big scheme of life. We must somehow matter.

And what more validation to that sentiment than a cell phone in our hands which seems to be in our control – after all, it sleeps only when you say so, doesn’t it?

There are two platforms that offer us visibility and recognition that we crave. These two avenues gives us unlimited freedom to indulge in the concept that is core to our identity – us. And they are, Social media and selfies.

A generation of only self portraits:

  • We all want to make an impact in our own way. Selfies empower us because we can control how our self image is projected onto the world.
  • We get to tell our story with the backdrop of a location, food or event and convey who we are.
  • In the context of a permanent picture, we can change your glamorous perception of ourselves into a reality.
  • The likes we get will further validate our self worth. (The opposite – not getting enough likes will have an equally disastrous result to our self esteem.)

Here’s why Social media is so addictive:

  • It feels empowering and participatory.
  • It feels like it enhances our expression of individuality.
  • While TV makes us inert, social media makes us form our own opinions.
  • It lets us speak our mind via opining on our (Facebook) walls.
  • We can signal goods to show our standing in society. Just look at Kylie Jenner’s Instagram feed if you want to know what I mean.
  • It meets the unsatisfying need of the endless scroll, unlike books that have a last page. Its designed to be addictive in the same way Netflix and YouTube have autoplay functionality in them. And how Snapchats have streaks to make people keep posting stories daily to maintain their streak.
  • Young adults post sexually arousing selfies, making them part of the thirst trap excitement.

Conclusion:

We’re at the mercy of the volatile reputation of social networks that we’re not in control of. We’re all seeking approvals from others by changing our online persona. As a result, our self identity is skewed, who are we really?

Imagine what it is doing to teens who’re in the developmental phase of forming their self worth and their identity in the world as emerging adults. Are we ready to make this iGeneration collateral by allowing Big Tech to experiment on us?

Further reading:

Social media etiquette for teens

 

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