On social media sites, there are different ways to represent yourself. Depending on your personality and age, posts range from pictures uploaded by overly involved, stay-at-home moms boasting about every aspect of their childrens’ lives to business owners looking to network. Then of course, there are teen posts complaining about life, gloating about plans for the weekend, or posting pictures with friends.
I convinced my mother to allow me to sign up for Facebook as I was entering the eighth grade. I met a girl at a dance competition in Florida over the summer, and I wanted to be able to keep up with her once we returned home. The only stipulation of obtaining a Facebook was that I had to accept my mom as a friend so that she could keep an eye on me. As a result, Kristen became my first Facebook friend, followed directly by my mother. As a thirteen year old girl thrilled about life, I thought that everyone wanted to know how I was feeling, what I was doing, and who I was spending my time with. I used exclamation points more than words.
After my eighth grade year, I transferred to a private school, and decided to reinvent myself. I was a freshman, moving to a school where I did not know anyone except for my sophomore brother who would not be caught dead associating with a freshman, so I decided to back off of Facebook for a little while until I could properly assess how I wanted to portray myself in my new environment. Clearly I was using social media to create a fake image for myself. Had I wanted to portray my real thoughts and feelings, I never would have needed to stop posting, but unfortunately, I was looking to fit in, so I constrained myself and sought to make friends.
That period of refraining from posting turned out to have a positive impact. For a while, I stayed away from social media in general and focused on making new friends in my new surroundings. Then, as I reentered the world of Facebook, I did so with more consciousness of my audience. I started to keep a journal in order to refrain from telling the world about every detail of my life. I like the idea of documenting the good and bad times, but I was using Facebook at my method of documentation. Realistically, I am one of the only people interested in the day in and day out occurrences of my life, so settling on a journal continues to be a much better solution. Plus, years from now, I’ll still have my journal, where as Facebook may be inconsequential.
I recently got an Instagram, but cannot, for the life of me, figure out why. I Instagram pictures that remind me of the memories that have made me the most happy. To me, these pictures make up the best times of my life, but my followers probably don’t give the pictures a second glance. Both my Instagram and Facebook are only accessible to people I have granted access. Because I share pictures showing the details of my life, I like to limit access only to include people I know. Similarly, I never share my relationship status online. I feel that is personal, and changes attract too much unwanted attention. Because I can choose what I post, the darker and deeper sides of me never show themselves online. Today, I mostly use Facebook to share and store pictures. My computer crashed a few years ago, but I have hundreds of pictures saved to Facebook. Without it, all of those memories would have been lost.
I oftentimes find myself browsing Facebook when I have nothing else to do, and by the nature of the site, my news feed is cluttered with pictures of Facebook friends going to concerts and parties, and I’m sitting on Facebook. It makes me feel lonely instead of experiencing the joy that’s intended to come from the post; however, I realize this is what people must feel about my page, too. I only share the good moments, so social media gives others a very narrow view into my life.