With social media, I know I choose which site to post on very carefully depending on the type of post I want to make. I can’t talk politics on my Facebook without inciting drama within my family, can’t post long rants of Instagram due to the format, and can’t post about personal life drama on Twitter because those very people follow me there. I have to carefully curate exactly what I post where, and because of that, I have to carefully curate who I become to everyone who sees me on social media. I could be violently political, but it would ostracize my family. I could post all of my personal drama on Twitter, but it would be an invasion of my friend’s privacy. I could post daily updates of boring events and weekends spent in bed on Snapchat, but that would be boring and possibly make my friends uncomfortable. And I could say whatever I wanted anywhere, but then I risk a future employer finding it and using it against me, be it something bad like illegal drugs or something innocent like my sexuality. Transformation isn’t a choice, it’s something we have to become if we want to be accepted in a society run by social media. Yes, there is an issue with how people present themselves on social media as an ideal self over real self, but not all 700 of your Facebook friends care about every aspect of your real self, nor is your real self always accepted on social media. We have to engage in transformation and the ideal self on social media.
But I am a firm believer in the idea that social media is not 100%, nor is it even half bad. A majority of my friends are people I either have never met before, or are people I rarely see in person, but maintain a friendship with over social media. It may lower the rates in which people engage in intimate friendships and relationships, but it’s much better than absolutely nothing, which is the alternate for so many people. Whereas real life doesn’t let you project your interests to anyone interested, social media lets you see the main things someone is interested in before you decide to interact with them. It lets us get to know people before even meeting them (to some extent, since we do still curate who we are projecting on to social media). I’ve met more people interested in video games online than I ever met in person.
Social media can be a great added bonus to friendships and relationships that are already in real life, allowing people to share memes and jokes that make them think of the other person or that they thought they would like. It allows for people to communicate over time and distance that would normally not allow that. The idea that social media ruins relationships is only true, in my opinion, for those who let it ruin them. If you’re so distracted by Twitter on a date, if you don’t say hi to your friends while hanging out because you’re checking Snapchat, if you’re more interested in talking with the girl who commented on your selfie than your girlfriend, your relationship was weak to begin with or you have a social media problem that needs to be addressed. People are going to be disinterested, people are going to cheat. Social media just changed the way we do it.