On Social Image

This post is a little bit shorter than what I normally write, and also a little bit more…  philosophical?  I’ve been struggling with these thoughts for a while, so if anyone has any thoughts on any of this, I would really appreciate discussing it with you.

I’ve had a Facebook account since I’ve been twelve years old.  All of the people in my class were starting to flood to the site, using it as a “go-to” for communication and such, so I decided to join them.  Since then, I’ve made a decent amount of friends, posted hundreds of pictures and “statuses,” and liked thousands of pages.  I’ve spent countless hours scrolling through my news feed, seeing, appreciating, and sometimes judging, what all of my friends are doing or “liking.”  They post about their accomplishments: personal, athletic, or academic.  They express their opinions on the latest social issue.  They display the photos they took of their most recent business outing, or their most recent vacation.  They share their blog posts (like me!) on one of their charitable endeavors.  Facebook, and other social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, seemingly allow for people to be socially conscious, forward thinking, and to express themselves as their own unique person.

You might be able to see where this is going- that these social networks limit our social skills, causing us to lose prevent us from developing connections with people that we would if we were outside and off the internet.  That, to some extent, is definitely the case, but that’s not what I want to talk about.  I want to talk not about social skills, but, as the title of this post says, social image.

The problem with social media, and other objective methods of judging popularity or success, such as a resume or the amount of money in a bank account, is that they give a false idea of what it means to be a good person, both to other people and to one’s self.  Perhaps that is why millennials seem to live in such… contrast to the rest of society, and vice versa- I, myself, am particularly guilty of giving these things credence.  I frequently find myself spending almost every waking moment perusing social media, oftentimes trying to find a place to insert a word or two of my personal experiences or opinions.  I’m paying too much attention to attaching myself to people, and to things, that I wouldn’t otherwise associate with were I not trying to conform to society’s standards.  I have a spreadsheet that I use to track my money so that I always have enough to look responsible.  My words and actions are dictated more by my need for recognition than they are for personal fulfillment.  As such, I struggle with my view of who I am.  I often consider myself to be fairly bland looking.  I feel that I’m so silly awkward, and often bordering on arrogant.  I sometimes even struggle with my the direction that I have chosen to take my future life- doubting my decision to go to a business school like Babson instead of going to a school to focus on liberal arts (that’s not to say that Babson’s liberal arts program isn’t good- a liberal arts class I’m currently taking inspired me to write this- but the focus of this school is definitely entrepreneurship).

Perhaps I’m the only person that is having an identity crisis in this fast-paced world we’re living in.  And if that’s the case, then maybe I need to reexamine how I’m approaching my life and make some drastic alterations to it.  But if I’m not, which I sense is the case, then maybe we need to have a change of focus in what it means to be a person.  What it means to be popular or successful. These aren’t things that can be simply organized by some chart or metric.  It marginalizes people that don’t deserve such a fate, and it glorifies people, like, say, Donald Trump, who is successful because of his immense net worth and has only recently become vastly unpopular as the Presidential race has revealed his character.  I’m at a loss as to how we can change our societal values so that the way that we view social image, both our own and that of our colleagues, but if anybody has any ideas, I’d be happy to hear them.  Contact me here if you do.

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