What is appropriate to share on social media, are we sharing too much, too little or in fact are we only sharing the positive aspects of our life online to maximise our careers and expand our social circle?
According to CIPR, “PR is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you”, upon reflecting on this definition of PR, I realised that surely we are all PR practitioners of our own lives on our social media accounts. We are all constantly presenting our ideal self-online, editing our photographs and potentially only sharing the good things of our life online. In order to get a different perspective on this topic I decided to carry out a survey asking people about their social media life compared to their offline life.
Out of 46 participants, 97.83% said that they have edited a photograph that they have posted online, this could be through simply adding a filter or going to extreme lengths of reshaping their body to make themselves look skinnier (6.32% of people admitted to this).
I also feel like I am surrounded by people that are so concerned about what they look like on social media, they will often go to extreme lengths of editing their photographs. Apps such as FaceTune is making is as easy as possible to edit your appearance online with minimal skills. But surely this is then making their peers wish they looked like this and are often left feeling down about themselves when comparing themselves to other people online and has close links to affecting peoples mental health. When in fact a lot of what they are seeing online, whether it is from their friends or celebrities is not always a true reflection of their life and 34.78% of people I surveyed admitted to this. Some of the reasons being, their social media accounts don’t depict the everyday struggles they face, their Instagram accounts make them seem happy confident which they admit being far from or they are only positing flattering pictures and angles.
I understand that there is a lot of peer pressure for people to look their best online (67.39% of people admitted they feel pressure), a part of this is due to celebrities and influencers using their social media accounts as a staged version of themselves, rather than a true reality of their life. It is important for us to not compare ourselves to these influencers, and remember a lot of what they post online are posed, paid for advertisement or just a small portion of their life. I really admire social media influencers such as Louise Pentland (SprinkleOfGlitter) and OurTinyTribe, who have recently had children and realise they should also be showing the not so glamour’s aspects of their life online to help others in a similar situation. Imagine if you had just had a baby and are struggling with many different issues that come along with being a parent and then you see all of these Youtubers who have also just had children who seem to have their life together, it would make you feel so alone and think you are going through all of these struggles on your own. When in face becoming a parent is a struggle for everyone, even social media influencers, they often just don’t show you that side of their life.
Out of the 50% of people who admitted to posting negative things on their social media accounts, the majority of people said they have done it to help other people who may be going through a similar situation to show that they are not alone. I feel like we should start using our social media platforms to help others who may be going through a similar situation rather than pretending our life is perfect at all times. I can totally see where the other 50% are coming from who said they don’t post the negative things online, as they don’t want to seem like they are begging for attention.
I feel like we should be empowering who we really are online, and having a balance of both the good and bad aspects of our life without coming across like we are looking for attention. At the end of the day, we are only going to make ourselves feel even more self conscious in the real world, when we go on that tinder date or meet people we have become friends with online because we look nothing like we have portrayed ourselves to be in our photographs or on our social media accounts.
Instead of us all turning into PR practitioners when posting on our social media pages, and focusing too much on our reputation and trying to impress people, we should start showing the world a more true side to our life. And yes, that might be showing some of our imperfections. It is important to see that nobody is perfect, not even the people we see on our TV screens and that is okay to admit you are struggling and ask for help. We are not trying to sell ourselves so why do we put so much time and effort into trying to impress people.