The Truth About Our Virtual Selves
By Brittany Collier
On the Internet we have the ability to be whoever we want to be. Hiding behind computers, smartphones and tablets enables us to conceal parts of ourselves that we don’t like, and change them into something we do like. We can cut, paste, Photoshop, and edit everything we do, and the frequency of this is becoming more and more apparent on social media websites today. What began as a tool for networking and keeping in touch with others has morphed into a dangerous platform for personal advertisement and embellishment. Essentially, we are handpicking what we want others to see and intentionally or not, we are constructing fronts that may deflect from or hide who we really are. But why do we do this? Why do we think it’s necessary to hide certain aspects of ourselves? The answer is simple: we aim to please.
Maria Edgeworth, prolific novelist and teacher once wrote: “All the pleasure we feel in pleasing others arises from the gratification it affords to our own vanity.” Basically we aim to please other people because when they are pleased by whom we are or what we do, it makes us feel as though we are doing something right. This brings about a feeling of worthiness and acceptance, but is that really warranted or accurate if someone is pleased by a false version of you? How can someone be genuinely pleased with you, if you aren’t being genuine?
One of the most dangerous aspects of using social media today, is that we don’t actually have a way of knowing if the person we are communicating with is who they say they are. This is a huge problem because these websites aren’t just used for staying in touch with old friends anymore. People are using social media for things like finding dates, buying and selling different things, business marketing and of course personal advertisement. The Internet isn’t a safe place to set these things up because of the fronts that people construct. While most people seem to have good intentions and don’t mean to actually hide huge parts of themselves from the rest of the world, there are others who are doing the exact opposite. There are people in this world who intentionally and meticulously construct fronts that enable them to deceive whoever they want for whatever reason they want.
The Internet has turned into an essential part of our everyday lives, but unless we begin to step away from trying to please everyone by changing who we appear to be, it’s going to continue to be very dangerous. We need to acknowledge that we want to please people because when done successfully it raises our self-esteem, but what we also need to realize is that changing who we appear to be does not actually change who we are. Today’s world is all about fighting for acceptance and equality for all people, so why aren’t we accepting of ourselves? Life is not perfect and neither is any person. Like the saying goes, “you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”. We might aim to please but something to always remember is that you can never please everybody. At the end of the day the best thing to do is to be honest with yourself, other people, and embrace your individuality.