On honesty and vulnerability in the age of social media


“You can then imagine how adrift I felt as I floated in this strange digital sphere where everyone seemed perpetually happy with their lives, as I struggled with isolation and many mental health issues.”INSTAGRAM / @ CHARLOTTE.AGER

Two years ago, I decided to reload Instagram after years without using it. Although Instagram was ultimately just an app, when I logged into my old profile, I was completely overwhelmed with the experience of having a character online again. This may sound strange to most of my generation, considering that many of us have been conditioned to live via the Internet. However, having grown up in a protected environment that prohibited me from using social media until I was independent (having been prompted by my tutors to remove the app after my first experiences at 14), I didn’t haven’t had the experience of navigating the online and social media space like many of my peers have.

You can then imagine how adrift I felt as I floated in this weird digital sphere where everyone seemed perpetually happy with their lives, as I struggled with isolation and many mental health issues. Since then, I’ve learned to take those photos of momentary joy or oneness with a pinch of salt, understanding that people often want to project images of themselves in their best light on a public platform, without necessarily give others insight into what is more mundane or troubling aspects of their lives.

Emotions change and dissipate over time …[but] they stay forever in the digital sphere

In recent months, however, the pristine image that online profiles present to individuals has come under scrutiny, with influencers and public figures keen to show an audience the more ‘realistic’ aspects of their lives. massive. Chrissy Teigen’s decision to post photos of herself after the loss of her newborn baby has sparked a public debate over whether social media is a suitable place to post such raw and emotional photos. When I started using Instagram again, there were more features that allowed me to interact with my followers and show a lot more of my life than I expected – videos, 24 hour stories, private stories. . I already have social interaction problems because of my autism, but these problems got worse once I reused social media; I didn’t understand the difference between the limits people have on social media and the limits I usually have for myself in real social situations. I assumed I could show off anything in my life, from my highs to my lows, on social media, forgetting that this is always an interactive space where people engage them. with each other.

Whenever I had emotional breakdown, I often did so on social media. It made sense to do some rabid stories and hyperbolic posts back then, because I felt that projecting my innermost feelings online would somehow validate me and allow people to understand me better. Instead, I ended up isolating myself and distorting who I was online – emotions change and dissipate over time, but once you download an article documenting these intense feelings, they stay in forever. the digital world and make others aware of your most vulnerable times. I also inadvertently distanced myself from people who didn’t know what to think of these overtly passionate exhibitions and made myself vulnerable to people who decided to pass judgment on me based on a few messages. It took a friend to tell me I was going too far for me to reflect on my previous stories and realize that I was exposing too much of myself to people who didn’t know how to react and maybe didn’t. did not know at all.

Now, I refrain from posting anything that is too personal or close to home because I know what my limits are and how much I want people to see. Although I think it’s important to have honesty conversations on social media and think about how ′realpublic figures are, I feel conflicted over the levels of openness we project on social media. Honesty is by no means a bad thing, especially on social media where everything seems soaked in artificiality. But, given the lack of context around online platforms that you would have in actual interaction, as well as the way the internet exposes you to a larger audience, I’m reluctant to think of social media as a suitable place for social media. reality. I wonder if there will ever be a time when social media immerses itself in the privacy of our daily lives, but for now, that seems like a distant possibility that I’m happy to leave behind.


About Madeline Powers

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