Nowadays, we spend most of our “free time” staring at the phone screen, in elevators, in metros and even on the streets. It doesn’t have to be texting with family or friends, because more often, we are simply scrolling down the screens, enjoying the time watching people’s posts and giving likes or commenting. Almost everyone around me, including myself, has a social media account, where we post photos to update our most recent life status. However, after reading Goffman’s “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”, I started to have a deeper understanding of the content we post and the motivation behind.

I think just as Goffman explains how everyone tries to create and maintain a specific “impression” on their social media platforms, we try to post photos to differentiate ourselves from the rest, to make ourselves look unique. There must be a consistency between the photos, captions, even the frequency of posts. This online “image” a lot of times hardly matches with the person in reality. However, it could be the ideal image that person aspires to have because he or she pays so much efforts to “perform” well enough to gain attention on that social media account.

[Please watch until 2:52]

The video I picked has an interesting name of “Are you living an Insta Lie?” I think it explained the point of Goffman and Hugo Liu very well. First, the girl woke up early in the morning to do make up, and went back to the bed just to take a photo and post it on Instagram. Even though this is not an interest tag as Hugo Liu analyzed in his article, I see this behavior as the girl wants to present an authentic self on social media, a girl who wakes up early in the morning with a bright smile. Of course the cost of “being authentic” is to make much preparation before taking a photo. Getting into the second and fourth person, they both tries to pursuit a healthy life style by biking and getting a healthy green juice. The difference is that the “front stage” person completed these tasks while the “back stage” person only wishes to do so instead of actually doing it.

One important detail is that the motivation of people starting to post is because they see other people’s posts, which means it’s hard to have people not comparing their peers with themselves. Once they see the best parts and best images created from others’ lives, they will naturally feel the pressure of sending the best image of themselves on social media.

However, as the last person in the video posted the photo of herself kissing her boyfriend on Instagram and received many likes from her friends, she almost forgot their relationship didn’t really go well. And that explains why the title of the video is “are you living an insta lie” because many people are more willing to live in the world of social media and escape from the reality. And this video will become a reminder for me and hopefully some of you when we are enjoying our good “performances” on social media, we should not escape from the reality.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What type of images have you seen your friends created on their social media platforms? How does that affect your impression on them? Are these all positive images?
  2. Instead of posting photos on Instagram, do you know any other ways of performing “self” on social media?
  3. Do you see this gap between the presented self and real self a bad thing? Is this situation going to change over time? What can we do to prevent the bad influence it brings?




Relavent Readings:

Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

Hugo Liu, “Social Networking Profiles as Taste Performances”



  1. Hey there Pameda! You seriously hit the nail on the head with this video and its relation to the Goffman reading. This video and your post really capitalize on how our society functions daily. Putting things into perspective in terms of my own life & daily practices, I too am guilty of taking more pictures than I need to in order to feed into a type of performance that Lui discusses. I see the same thing not only in my life but also in the lives of my peers as they strive to have the perfect aesthetic throughout their Instagram and the perfect image on Facebook and Snapchat. I don’t think it really alters my perspective on them because in today’s time it isn’t taboo or abnormal in any way because it has become common practice in society & social media. It’s actually kinda funny because everyone always strives to be as “authentic” as possible but it almost seems impossible on social media because we always post something that would get the most likes and comments and we wouldn’t be able to do so by posting the “real” us. Or at least that’s how it seems nowadays. However, I do believe that there are ways to be authentic and that is by being yourself–either by not feeling the need to post on social media or by posting something that truly represents who you are–not for other people and their opinion but for yourself and yourself ONLY. We all spend way too much time scrolling through our newsfeed and looking at what other people are doing when in reality, we should be going out, having fun, and living each moment for ourselves and not others. This is what I got from you wonderful post & hopefully sooner than later, I’ll act on my words and do things for myself and be as authentic as possible. Great post Pameda! Thanks for putting things into perspective!!


  2. Hey Pameda, very timely post and you hit on much of what Goffman is arguing in his work in regards to impersonation and false presentations of reality through performance, of course he was writing long before social media was around but the ideas are readily applicable. In terms of what types of images I generally see my friends post on social media platforms it is for the most part positive. Occasionally there is a friend from high school who is doing poorly and faced with difficult situations and that certainly makes me feel bad for them if I had any affection for them at any time; however, I do not really think much less of them for that reason. If friends post very positive images I might become jealous or associate them with those sorts of good things, but another reason for my dislike of social media is of course that people should be living their own lives rather than boasting about theirs or being jealous of others. I would not be affected much by these images as I do understand the nuance of social media and the performance that is well summarized through the clip you included.
    Other than posting images, I imagine less powerful mediums for performance of “self” on social media could be posts of course, but they are generally less powerful and certainly words are more doubtable than images as the adage, “pics or it didn’t happen comes to mind.”
    I think that to some the gap between the presented self and real self is a bad thing, especially for those who do not realize that it is essentially just a snapshot of whatever that person wants to appear as and not a real barometer. For people who are unclear on this it could be troubling, depressing, or even encourage competition to reach similar levels of performance and live as the person they are viewing seems to. I am not a fan of social media so I do not feel that it is an issue in my life, I would only imagine that only if people begin to think of it as a superficial medium like reality television will they truly understand it and not be adversely affected by it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Pameda! This was a really interesting read and I feel like as an avid social media user I can see a lot of these actions being performed by myself and my friends. When watching the video, I was cringing a little bit because a lot of the stuff was relate-able and it is almost as if sometimes I am being fake on social media. For me, the thing I do most is try to take the coolest pictures for people to see what I’m doing and so I can make it seem like I am living this really cool life of mine. Recently my friend took a tour in Europe and she posted so many nice pictures in front of a lot of beautiful places; once she came back I asked her about the places she visited and she gave me a pretty sad response, basically not remembering the name of the places and her main goal was to just get the pictures. I find this sad because it is as if she went to Europe not for pleasure but to be able to tell people she went and show off the time she had there. Most of these images are positive and it does affect people’s impressions of them because it adds a layer of personality that makes them seem like a superior form of who they really are. Another way of performing on social media besides positing a picture is through your comments and likes. These are today’s form of social currency, so if you get a lot of likes and positive comments, then that only adds to the social media experience. Generally speaking, this gad is more bad than good. I say this because we are acting as different individuals online and offline. In order to stay true to yourself it is important that you always act the same around everyone. By hiding behind a computer or phone screen, things seem less scary so we tend to be more brave online. I feel like this situation is only going to increasingly get worse because of all the new technology that we are consuming. The most natural thing we can do to prevent this is getting into the mindset of not always having to document what we see, what we eat, or where we go with people. By doing this, we will not only enjoy our experiences more but we will see a greater sense of connectivity.


  4. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. You gave a clear and perfect insight of how many people create this sort of impression of themselves. You also gave a nice analysis of Goffman’s and Lui’s reading and of the Youtube clip. I perform “self” on social media very often, especially on Instagram. However, when I am not performing “self” on Instagram, I am performing it on Snapchat and Facebook. I often post pictures and videos on Snapchat, updating people and publicizing what I am doing in the day. I suppose as the girl did in the video, I fancy up what I am doing to make it appear better on camera and to others. I try to take pictures of things that are aesthetically pleasing visually and of things that seem cool or trendy. If there is a nice or hip place that I go to, I make sure to take a visually pleasing picture of it. I suppose it makes one seem cool or make others feel envious as one performs “self” and creates this image of their life that others may not have or can do it better. Similarly, I perform this kind of “self” on Facebook. I post pictures and videos on albums to showcase places that I’ve been to and update people on my life. I occasionally also update my status and check my self in a location that is different, cool, and a place that is frequently visited. I also post status of checking in at a movie theater to indicate that I am watching the latest movie first that most have been raving about. In these ways, I create a certain image of myself and perform “self” by updating my statuses, posting pictures and videos. As I perform this kind of “self,” I noticed that others do the same. They perform “self” similarly by posting pictures and videos and updating their statuses. They create a certain image of themselves that might be different or similar to my self. But, however fabricated or authentic we show case ourselves, we are performing “self” on social media.


  5. Great job, Pameda! I found your blog post very interesting and think you asked some really compelling questions.

    Many of my friends edit their pictures using Photoshop, Facetune, and Perfect365. Others post pictures of every time they pick up a book to read or head to the gym. They try proving to their followers that they are flawless, intellectual, or physically fit. The images they attempt to create do not always match my impression of them. While these images are, for the most part, positive, I love my friends just the way they are. This gap between the presented self and real self, however, can be a bad thing. It upsets me to know that my friends who create these images on social media do not believe that their authentic selves are enough and feel the need to change who they are.


  6. Hey Pameda, your blog post was a great read. I think all of us who use and have social media accounts can resonate with the video example you chose in addition to everything you said. In regards to your first discussion question, I see my friends post a myriad of images and pictures of themselves on their accounts. For example, a friend would post a selfie of themselves in a very picaresque location as the backdrop with a not-so-subtle caption like: “There are many ups and downs in my life, but I can forget them all with the beauty of the world.” Initially, it seems that they post this kind of content to present a better image of themselves and sculpt a personality of openness and idealists however it does get annoying when the same people constantly post the same thing. Although posts like this tend to evoke a positive image for said people, it can present a superficial image as well. Other content posts would include a list of recent accomplishments and positive developments as a means to gain other people’s attention and approval. Personally, it is great that they’re proud of what they accomplished and I am completely supportive of their future endeavors and passions. However, when these occurrences become to frequent, it could come off as overtly boastful and ostentatious. For your second discussion question, I find that aside from candid photos to reveal “self” to others, people can also show their authentic, unfiltered selves by making honest posts or comments about what they truly feel. For example, there are some posts out there that can be in the form of a heartwarming letter or message to another person, posting this on your newsfeed. In regards to your third question, I find that the gap between the presented part of our lives versus our real lives is a space where we can truly learn to filter and unfilter the content we post. Depending on the content, we should post things on social media that we find important and unique to ourselves rather than something that more people will be appealed to. Although it may not be approved by the several people we know on social media, I would much rather opt for genuine, real content over something that isn’t even real. This dynamic however will continue to exist so long as social media exists. The only way to combat this issue would be to post things that are important to ourselves rather than posting on what society and others expect from us.


  7. Hi Pameda, thank you for that very insightful and thought-provoking post! With regards to your first question, I believe there are so many disparate images on social media that this question is difficult to answer exhaustively. However, I think some of the most common images are reflections and iterations of mainstream culture. As Goffman states, people are generally interested in learning “his general socioeconomic status, his conception of self, his attitude towards them, his competence, his trustworthiness” (sans the “his” in each phrase). Because of this, mainstream culture and idealized images on social media tend to be centered around what people want to know and what social media members want to provide. This relationship creates falsified, idealized portrayals of people’s “socioeconomic status,” “competence,” and many other attributes. Many times, I see images of people finishing athletic events, such as the one in this post, where the person looks barely fatigued. This kind of portrayal is clearly an idealized one, yet when the viewer is assailed with so much information, it is hard to take the extra second to identify this fallacy. Furthermore, I see many seemingly ‘effortless’ pictures that have been perfectly positioned, angled, and made-up prior. These images convey an idea of a person that does not exist, an idea that the actor themselves wishes to be. In general, these images are false for the sake of positivity, as I have rarely if ever seen an image of sadness or truth on social media. My impression is always skeptical of every portrayal that seems too good to be true, and it lowers my opinion of the poster if I deem it to be so. I engage in curation of my life events, but I never falsify them. For this reason, I hold a negative opinion of those who do.

    I believe that there are many ways to perform on social media, as many forms of social media are not strictly image-based. Facebook began as a text based medium, with only a profile picture and cover photograph available for image customization. Twitter maintained a measure of strictly text interaction with the 140 character limit, which has prompted users to rely heavily on short bursts of opinion as their primary medium of acting. Reddit is a message board site that is solely textual and has a robust community all the same. As Goffman notes, everyone has control over the impression they make on others, and everyone has a “part” to lay on different media platforms. This considered these different platforms demonstrate the variety of ways one can perform.

    I believe that the gap between the presented self and the real self is a bad thing, but I do not think it always is. With performance in the traditional sense, there is a specifically delineated stage where one portrays themselves differently than real life. With Social Media, performance blends with real life in a manner that is unsettling and profound. This constant influence of a social media portrayal that is not true to life creates cognitive dissonance, resulting in increased propensity for depression and other negative mental effects. It is not the fact that there is a gap between the performance and the true self, it is simply how long the gap exists, how frequently that gap is made apparent, and how much the true self is forced to reconcile with the ideal self.


  8. Hi Pameda, to answer your second question, I think another way people, especially UC Berkeley students display versions of their “self” is through the meme page UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens. Markham believed that in order to recognize our self we must be responded to, so the performances we have online must be validated by others in order to substantiate our own thoughts and beliefs. The memes students post are relateable to the struggles and obstacles we face by attending not only college, but UC Berkeley. The immense responses a user gets from posting a successful meme is a way of validating the user’s “self” and an acknowledgement that they are not going through these trials alone. The memes others post also allow the audience to gain a sense of validation themselves, since as an audience, their thoughts are being confirmed as well. The meme page itself is a validation of not only the self of the UC Berkeley student body, but a validation of the self of college students. A space that allows students to post content about every good and bad aspect about college where others can relate is a form of validation in itself.


  9. Hi Pameda! Great video choice. Really great way of capturing some of the realities of this new world we live in.

    You asked: “Do you see this gap between the presented self and real self a bad thing?”
    And well, my first gut reaction was no. I tried to find a way it might not be a bad thing but… I can’t really justify having a “presented self” and then having a different actual self. While, most times, we are never our actual true selves, because of how we change to adapt to different environments, I don’t think that having a gap, at least the one portrayed by the video, is a good thing. It was actually sort of sad. And, what’s even more sad, more sad is that I know people who live like that.

    It seems like this sort of false advertisement of your life isn’t very fulfilling.
    I think people actually end up being more unhappy.
    You’re either unhappy because it isn’t something that’s real. Or you’re unhappy because you see it, and your life isn’t like how other people portray their lives to be.

    You ask if it will change.
    And, I honestly don’t know.
    It always seems like we are constantly growing, changing and realizing new things. But, this is something people know about. This false representation is something we understand is happening.
    And there has been no change yet.

    My pessimist self is doubtful because we haven’t really done much about it. It is just the way of life for some. But, the optimist in me is always hopeful for change. If we continue to realize how this may affect us, in time, we will change for the better.


  10. Hey Pameda! I really enjoyed reading your post, and especially liked the video you chose to use in relation to the topics of the module. I thought the video really hit the nail on the head with its portrayal of how people post on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve seen a ton of images just like these from friends on Instagram and in Facebook albums. I think this is just what everyone does. After all, why would you purposefully post a “bad” picture? Most people post pictures that they deem to be “perfect” or paint them in a positive light. However, this doesn’t really affect how I look at my friends or people I know who I follow on Instagram. Everyone makes these posts, so it’s easy to understand you’re only seeing the best side of the story that someone posts about. On any social media page, people are going to post things that show their best side, or as Goffman calls it, “maintaining their online identities”.

    Another way I can think of to perform on social media is to comment on peoples’ posts and to like pages and videos/pictures/ads you see on Facebook. When other people scroll through their news feed, they might see something like “Campbell, John, and 3 other friends liked UC Berkeley”. Through this, it’s possible to maintain your online identity by creating an image of yourself through your interests/tastes.

    I think the gap between the presented and real self isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s become so common that it’s the norm for platforms like Instagram and Facebook. I may want to present the best image of myself by posting certain things, but so does everyone else. I think this is mainly a bad thing when people start to think that they should be living up to whatever “ideal lifestyle” they see on Instagram, through the presented selves of people they follow. This can lead to unrealistic expectations, and might lead to more stress and people being unhappy with who they are if they don’t think they’re meeting this “ideal”. To prevent bad influences it brings, I think one of the best techniques is to educate people on the differences between presentation and reality, through courses like this one, or to just help people understand how different someone’s life can be from the way they present their lives on social media.


  11. Hey Pameda,

    Great choice of the the video. Good analysis of the Goffman reading. I have seen images created like those in the video by my friends on social media. To me, I feel that they are expressing their creative freedom. In a sense, I am fine with my friends trying to post fictitious photos on social media. I know who the real person is, and it does not ruin our friendship but it makes something that I can joke about. Instead of posting photos, people can make Snapchat stories on the social media. We as viewers see the authenticity of the user while in real time. The gap between the presented and the real self is not a bad thing in my opinion. I feel that some people strive to be like the person they are social media. In a sense, the presented self is the ideal self. I feel like this will not change over time because are constantly not satisfied with who they are now and strive to be better. To prevent bad influence, i feel that there should be no technology that allows people to edit their content into a fictitious form. Good Job.


  12. Hi Pameda, I think you picked a really great video for this module, because I remember watching this video before and being stuck by how it really revealed how much of social media is a just a carefully planned act. I really agree with your point that it appears many people’s performance on social media is an act of escapism, because it really looks like an active form of avoidance where someone tries to avoid the negative aspects of their life by emphasizing to others the more positive aspects.
    The main pictures I see of my friends are usually of accomplishments, social activities, or aesthetic pictures that make them seem “cool.” These images are almost always positive in subject matter, and the only negative ones I can think of are usually about some personal event or related to some cause they support. But the impression that I get from theses images really depends on each person and what type of most it is. If is a close friend showing an accomplishment, I’ll be happy for the and respect them more. If an acquaintance I don’t know well, who appears to be trying to perform as a glamours ideal form of themselves, I just think they’re a pretentious idiot. And of course any sort of performance of “self” doesn’t have to be done through an Instagram photo, it can be any sort of social media interaction. Whether its a twee, a retweet, a Facebook rant, or even a meme on a meme page, they all allow the poster to present some sort facet of themselves.
    This gap between real life and social media performance, can be a very morally ambiguous thing. For example,the image of beauty and fitness presented by a model can have negative or a positive impact on audience members. It may cause someone who is morbidly obese to get in shape, or it may cause a healthy person to become anorexic. Any sort of performance in social media can be contorted to be positive or negative. We might be able to stop some bad influence with legislation, but anything comprehensive would mostly likely end up being unconstitutional, so I think it will be up to what values parents, society, and educators instill within the youth of society to filter out the negative influences of social media.


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