If I didn’t follow you on Instagram, if I wasn’t friends with you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, know your SnapChat best friends, read your blog, would I know you?
I’ve been thinking lately of our virtual realities, of the personas we create through our apps. This is me in pictures, this is me in words, this is me speaking into a large crowd with no specific intended recipient. How do these branches of our real lives, our digital identities, blend, supplement, add to or develop our actual selves? Do they?
I scroll through my intsa feed, and there are jokes I want to re-tell, clothes I want to wear, places I want to see up close, but also, mostly, people I’ve interacted with in a physical setting. I’ve touched them, smelled them, heard them. And of course, oftentimes, their digital personas are slightly a little less or a little more than who they were in the physical setting. What does this mean?
I think back to before the social media lifestyle, when it did feel almost like chance if you reached someone via telephone, when you ran into them at the grocery store, when you went on an out of town shopping trip and couldn’t be reached for hours. Did I know people better or worse then?
I think about the before and the afters. When a social media profile is the determinant of your liking, of your approval. The sole representation. And I think about when you know, when you’re fully aware of the artifice. And as we become more comfortable with our digital selves, we accept that some people are putting on a show via their devices. A self they can’t quite reach with all the noise of the real world. The pollutants fogging our vision. And what’s the difference? What marks it? What’s the fork where someone decides to represent their ‘genuine-ness’ and someone else their facade? What about when we blend the two? This is part me and this is real me?
Would I know you better or worse if I didn’t know your social media self? Should I take your social media self into account when I consider you? Would I value our interactions more or less? Would I read them differently? Is it right to allow the digital realm an influence on the physical? What is real and what is farce? Soon we won’t be able to tell, but then I joke with myself, who says we ever could?