Social media is the gift of technological evolution that aims to unite people in an online community regardless of their nationality, race, age, or gender. Authentic self is the core element that individuals use to differentiate themselves in society. However, the impact of active social media usage on authentic self has become a subject of debate, giving rise to an argumentative essay. Some argue that social media fosters loneliness, inner insecurities, and fears, which can lead to inappropriate online behavior and psychological violence. On the other hand, proponents of social media believe that it can be beneficial for communication if individuals use online platforms and dating services in moderation while maintaining regular interactions with friends in the real world.
The Internet and its development brought numerous websites and social networks available within the reach of a cell phone, tablet, laptop, or personal computer. The humanity managed to create the world that promotes evolution of people in the same pace with the technological sector. Nevertheless, the speed of technological development makes people unprepared for the diversity of features that social networking sites offer. Apart from that, the logic behind difficulties associated with the use of social networking sites is obvious – the humanity still has not learned how to consume products or use services in moderation. Otherwise, there would be no place for alcoholism, drug addiction, or binge eating. The usage of social media affects human minds similarly to the influence of addictive substances.
Comparison of social media with food, alcohol drinks, and drugs has a reliable background. Overconsumption of the aforementioned products is an attempt to feel the mental gap between the need for happiness and harsh reality that does not fill the inner gap. Emotions and feelings became the main triggers of various activities that create an illusion of happiness. Dating websites and social networks make an illusion of joy, communication, engagement in social activities, and development of new connections (Forbes). As soon as an individual creates a profile on a dating website, he or she already feels lonely. The problem of using dating websites lies in the exacerbation of insecurities and fears that a person has already developed. For instance, one person used to fix her body shape in photo-editing programs in order to make herself appealing to boys and find a boyfriend. In this way, the individuals often embellish their profiles in order to create a perfect online image as well as impress other online users. Nevertheless, insecurities remain the same regardless of editing pictures or not.
Authentic self is a phenomenon that the modern world often considers as a synonym to personality or individuality. Trends and tendencies of the surrounding world always influence the development of interests, hobbies, as well as opinions that comprise a lifestyle. In this way, every person has an opportunity to choose activities according to personal interests and inner calling that makes routine choices obvious and justified. Nevertheless, the era of social media makes authentic self a controversial topic for many sociologists worried for self-identity as well as self-image of millions of people that use social media as the way to communicate. Dating websites and social networks make online users dive in the depths of digital communication that establishes new principles of attractiveness.
An authentic self is a priceless phenomenon that every person enjoys while making daily choices. Unfortunately, continuous usage of dating websites as well as social networks may lead to the loss of self-identity that remains one of the major components of authentic self. For example, Instagram is one of the most vivid examples of continuous transformation of self-identity as well as self-image. Young people use the social networking platform as the way to express themselves and attract attention of the audience (Samantray). Unfortunately, the audience often becomes the only determinant of transformations that Instagram users initiate in order to become popular online. The key idea of Instagram is sharing pictures from daily life, personal interests, and hobbies. Nevertheless, the race for fame often makes online users create pictures that reflect fake reality. Continuous struggle for applying filters in pictures using the most appropriate lighting and poses that do not reveal a real body shape indicates willingness of online users to hide reality.
Tinder, Instagram, as well as Tumblr became popular tools for making friends or finding partners for life. All social networks are designed to be extensions of users’ lives in order to establish a strong connection between online image and self-image. However, authentic self has low connection with digital self that depends on trends and tendencies of the online community. As soon as people realize that they can choose what to share with their online acquaintances, they start believing in the fake life that they cannot experience in the real world.
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The Internet became a savior for lonely people feeling the lack of confidence to make friends and date in the reality. Online dating became an option that should have helped people build confidence before meeting their crush in the real world. Contrary to expectations of the society, the Internet quickly encouraged people to decide what to share with other users (Forbes). In this way, the humans started creating different selves and images depending on the website. The more a person spends dating online, the harder it is to trace the border between reality and online environment. The controversy behind the Internet lies in its addictiveness that alienates digital self from authentic self (Fox and Vendemia). In fact, social networks and dating websites connect people according to their interests as well as dating goals. However, an outstanding desire to be attractive and appealing leads to the difficulties of transferring online communication into the real world.
In dating world, the first impression is the most valuable step towards building relations with another person. Dating websites are full of candid photos that aim to emphasize the beauty of an online user, whether real or edited in photo-editing application. The purpose is to impress the potential lover and achieve the effect of love at first sight. For example, the young users of dating application often post shirtless pictures in order to reveal their body shape (Fox and Vendemia). However, the majority of users tend to exaggerate their achievements or embellish their daily life in order to make themselves appealing. Unfortunately, such manipulations make loneliness and diffidence more severe since it is difficult to fit authentic self to online image. In this way, many online users stop communicating with the potential lovers, as they cannot make the same impression in the real world.
Individuation is a process of differentiating personal self from other people. While individuation implies creating distinctive features that make a person unique, deindividuation implies anti-social behavior that follows the opposite – patterned behavior common for the group of people. Social networks and dating websites offer the myriad of functions to post pictures, share information, and exchange messages. Thus, the problem behind using social media for communication lies in the controversial side effects. For example, when a person becomes a new member of the digital community, he or she aspires to creating a realistic reflection of personal self in the virtual world. However, the attempts to emphasize individuation often lead to the loss of distinctive features that could make a person different from other online users. The authentic self and individuation are interrelated concepts that co-exist in human mind in order to create a particular self-image. Deindividuation is the process of temporary loss of self-identity and usage of anonymity to achieve specific goals (Niesen). Social networks and dating websites offer the myriad of ways to interact with other online users. However, the lack of confidence may lead to the usage of fake names or pictures of other people in order to personal self to other users.
Deindividuation is a severe side effect of social networking and online dating services that can influence communication in the real world. Active online communication and development of personal online image may lead to the loss of self-identity in the real world. In addition, addictive usage of social networks may create an obsessive desire to seek for perfection in the surrounding world in order to share it with other users. For example, many Instagram bloggers spend their weekends preparing content for their page a week ahead. Unusual meals, beautiful scenery, shopping routine, as well as content planning often become the main objectives of people willing to share life that they do not have. In this way, such side effect unites the majority of online users who want to be attractive to other people.
Violence is another phenomena that often takes place in social media, especially social networks and dating websites. Cyberbullying is the major negative consequence of losing authentic self. Anonymous commentaries, explicit material, and psychopathic behavioral patterns in the digital community often emphasize psychological problems that online users face in the real world (Lowry et al.). The Internet made harming others easy and accessible, especially for those who cannot attract attention to themselves in reality. Social networks provide online users with a fake impression that they can use online environment as a platform for enhancing their status. Moreover, negative comments and intentional harming of online users’ feelings are attempts to interact with other people. Cyberbullying helps people feel themselves important and outstanding since they cannot make others notice them in the surrounding world. Sadistic intentions often become obvious in the digital community, as people eventually express their authentic self. The society follows moral standards and principles of acceptable behavior, which do not work in the digital world. In this way, socially isolated and lonely people may feel themselves offended, as other people do not pay attention to them in the real world (Niesen). As a result, online communities become an optimal platform for expressing personal offense and attract attention of other users with mean as well as rude behavior.
From the sociological viewpoint, online environment offers users a freedom of informational exchange that allows them either to reject personal self and create an alternative personality or reinforce self-image. Social networks and dating websites emphasize personal insecurities and fears that have pure reflection in photos and texts that online users share with each other (Samantray). Social media is a dangerous innovation that may both benefit and damage authentic selves of millions of users willing to go through evolution with the same pace with technological development. In this way, only careful as well as moderate usage of social media can help avoid disappointing consequences, including psychological violence.
Social media has controversial effects on the modern society that people can avoid by using social networks and dating websites in moderation without forgetting to interact with friends in the real world. Authentic self is an invaluable asset in human development that helps people differentiate themselves in the surrounding world by choosing various interests, hobbies, as well as lifestyle peculiarities. Nevertheless, the active usage of social media may lead to addiction to the digital world that offers the myriad of ways of creating alternative personalities in order to hide insecurities as well as fears faced in the real world.