“The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age…But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face.”
I came across Zygmunt Bauman, a Polish sociologist, and his opinion on social media triggered the question of whether I am authentic on the internet, if my social media presence is a true projection of who I am.
Here, on the Creative Community Blog, I strive to be honest, to exercise getting my thoughts into (hopefully) relatable words, and to take a better look at how I’m currently feeling. But outside of writing here, I’ve realized that I might not be authentic on the internet and I’m not too proud of that. I curate the crap out of my Instagram, and my Twitter feed only exists because I heard in a podcast that if you don’t use Twitter in the tech world you’re nobody (ugh, my brain was all “gotta get on Twitter, you’re turning 25 in a few months and what if you have a quarter-life crisis and decide to be in the tech world. You better have a Twitter handle ready in case that happens!”). I don’t use Facebook because it seems stressful to keep up appearances on four platforms as well as in person.
Being a designer makes this even harder. When someone finds me on Instagram, I want all my pictures to share an aesthetic and show that I care about colors, light, and subject matter. All too often, I take a picture of something I find funny and after applying five different filters and playing with the light levels realize that it doesn’t have a home on my feed. This constant curating makes my online presence feel like a brand. It’s taken on it’s own life, and the real parts of my life that I want to share don’t have a home there. And when I take a step back, I feel a bit vapid about the pale pink backgrounds and black and white pictures of people… that’s not showing who I am, it’s showing who I think I have to be.
So how do I navigate out of these waters? I’m one for quotes (not a surprise at this point) since they sum things up so much more succinctly and poetically than I can, so here’s one that helps me put my social media into perspective:
“Authenticity is not needing external approval to feel good about your actions.”
– Kate Arends
I should post the things that make me happy, not the things that will get me the most likes or more followers. My portfolio can be the place for aesthetics and soft lighting, my Instagram (and Twitter and Snapchat) should showcase the tiny moments that are authentic and not always beautiful.
– Melissa Grant