Nothing is What it Seems: Social Media and Perception Management
Is it just me, or do Facebook and Twitter make it look like other people are having way more fun than you? For all the great things social media has done for us, it presents us with some interesting dilemmas. One is what we share. It is very easy for us to share the best part of our lives online and create the perception that all is well, regardless of reality. We manage our image so those around us know how cool our friends are, who we just hung out with, how great our date was tonight, or how hot our wife is.
We have to be careful on two fronts. First, we can easily create a perception of ourselves that is false. We can convince people that we are someone other than who we are. I’ve literally watched people whose marriages were falling apart, but their Facebook profile picture showed something different. The images and words were joyful, but everything was broken.
The other danger is to look at the public images of others, not realizing that it has been sanitized, whitewashed, and sugarcoated, and then never see the imperfections, the brokenness, the struggles, and the real life situations. As I have been looking at church websites recently, I have noticed how easy it is to judge a church by its online presence – its website, its media, the pastors’ tweets – all contribute to a public image that may or may not have any basis in reality. We say talk is cheap and a picture is worth a thousand words. The reality is, online talk – where there is no one to question our view of reality – and profile pictures – always posed at our peak moments of sheer bliss – create a romanticized version of our lives.
We need to be able to look through these things. We need to see through our own facades and those of others. We desperately need to see the brokenness, the fallen mass of humanity, and our need for hope and a redeemer. Nothing is what it seems.