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Two faced.

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Reading Stylist last night before bed, I came across Lucy Mangan’s Outspoken column, which I normally skip because she’s just not my cup of tea (a bit whiny if you ask me…).  But, her recent article caught my attention…

“I won’t let it ruin my weekend” discusses the smokescreen image we create in order to represent ourselves.  Mangan writes, “We lie out of kindness to ourselves and others, rather than out of a desire to deceive them and elevate ourselves.”  She goes on to say that “the truth is hard” (i.e. the older we get, in reality, the more we would rather just have a relaxing evening in rather than partying until the wee hours of the morning), it’s much easier to keep warming ourselves with the “campfire tales” of what we did last weekend, and we really shouldn’t think twice about doing so…

I started thinking of the idea of “social life honesty” in the context of social media and social networking sites.  After all, (as Seb too often says) social media is about “where people hang out”, and thus, it’s only natural to discuss the recent happenings in our lives.  The default status or tweet is what you’re up to…or what’s coming up…right?

Although I’m pretty certain I’m not the type of person to exaggerate my weekend plans via Twitter to sound cool, I have on occasion (very few instances!) tweeted that I’m enjoying a quiet night at home to myself, and I have a strange feeling that this is to reaffirm to myself and the rest of the world (yes, in my mind Twitter is the world) that I am by choice being a “loser” for the evening.  But really, why do I care?  And more so, why do I care more about how I appear online than in person…because I’m never ashamed to admit that I have no plans for the evening to mates at work, etc. (despite what Lucy says…).

My internal quandary reminded me of an article that I read earlier in the day, so I popped online and opened up the article again for a quick re-read.  According to research by Cornell University, happy tweeters like fellow happy tweeters and are more likely to respond to and interact with those who have similar SWB (subjective well-being).  And, more importantly, this type of behaviour likely occurs more often online.

…Looks like documenting my social life in a positive light on various social media sites is just easier and a simple way to continue and fuel the cycle of Twitter of happiness…?  And it seems that I’m an extreme case of typical Twitter behaviour (if being both extreme and typical is possible).  I never thought I would be the type to have an Internet alter ego, as I always thought online personas were saved for creepsters with weird fetishes.

Despite the fact that I may not be alone in this odd behaviour (partly joined by Lucy and the participants in social media research piece that I mentioned), I’m not super comfortable knowing that I’m perhaps a less confident person online.  Because, again, why do I care?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Kelly Pires
    March 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    This is so relevant to a conversation I just had the other day! I was saying to someone that it’s so annoying when I forget to check-in somewhere on Foursquare, so that, God forbid, one of the 8 Foursquare friends I have think that I didn’t do something that evening. Exactly your point…why do I care? And why do I think anyone is even paying attention?

  2. March 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    “as I always thought online personas were saved for creepsters with weird fetishes.”

    Isn’t this true? My Twitter persona is significantly different than real-life, but sometimes I (idealistically?) imagine it’s actually a truer subsegment of me that I can’t necessarily use in real-life because my friends aren’t as deeply interested in certain (often unrelated) niches I love (e.g. DIY nonprofit tech analytics, how to “live love” in a business environment). But, of course, I’m a specialist (not a generalist) and this allows me to indulge the depth of these topics I crave.

    It sounds like perhaps you’re battling both whether you will allow yourself to have a different online voice and what that voice (or specific interest) may allow you to indulge online. But I don’t agree that ‘social media is about “where people hang out”’ because that doesn’t factor in the geographic barriers that are minimized via this platform (case in point: YOU and ME relating across the ocean!!) :).

    Anyway, great questions asked in this piece. Looking forward to more!!!

    • margetheintern
      March 21, 2011 at 11:50 am

      Love your comment, Lindsay.

      I agree that social media is about “where people hang out”, but that description of its purpose is very basic, bare bones, limited, etc. It IS about so much more…

      So I agree with you both…and isn’t that the glory of social media? It’s advantages are user defined and dependent?

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