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.
- 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?
- Instead of posting photos on Instagram, do you know any other ways of performing “self” on social media?
- 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?
THANK YOU FOR READING! ANY COMMENT AND QUESTIONS ARE WELCOMED 🙂 PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT BELOW.
Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
Hugo Liu, “Social Networking Profiles as Taste Performances”