SOCIETY TALK

When social media posts mislead or hurt

We are engrossed in the realm of unrealistic reality

In Summary

• We use social media to project the best sides of our lives and to peddle influence

• However, that doesn't tell the full story and can be more harmful than helpful

The reality behind the scenes is different from what our followers envision it to be
The reality behind the scenes is different from what our followers envision it to be
Image: COURTESY

From the time we wake up and pick up our phones to log into social media sites, we essentially step into a virtual reality that redefines our actual reality. This virtual reality seems harmless. After all, we just want to see what people are up to.

Before we know it, the videos we watch have started influencing all aspects of our lives, from what we wear to what we eat or even how we eat. We watch these people in the deluded mindset that behind their six-pack abs is a healthy body, behind the glamorous interior design is a wonderful home... and so on.

Although social media vloggers and influencers act as though they post stories of their ‘real and authentic’ lives, we are remotely aware that it is a façade. If you closely analyse their ‘authenticity’, you become aware that there is always some element of drama added to make their lives seem more interesting. On the rare occasion that they are genuine, what stops us from being easily manipulated into copying them?

 
 

Take Mommy-vloggers, for instance. They seem innocent as they give us direct access into their adorable lives with their extra-cute babies. They engage followers who relate to their daily struggles of being full-time, stay-at-home mothers.

But stay-at-home mothers need to get paid, too. This is where their thousands of followers come into use. The vloggers either profess to being sponsored by products they ‘swear to’ or through subliminal messaging. They use subliminal messages by integrating a product or place into their daily routine. For instance, they would say, “I have to pass by Naivas to get diapers.” Although it might sound like a normal vocalisation of one’s errands, in essence, the vlogger is paid for supporting the mentioned corporation. The viewer in turn starts associating affordable diapers with Naivas because Mommy Vlogger said so.

 We often feel the need to do things beyond our means because they are ‘Instagrammable’
Nabila Hatimy

But we are all guilty of these wrongdoings now. People no longer look up to influencers to dictate on how everyone else should do things but also into guiding them to be trendsetters in their own right.

Social media users have been engrossed in the realm of unrealistic reality for so long that they now wish to be the influencers of their own circles. We often feel the need to do things beyond our means because they are “Instagrammable”. We want to dine out at fancy places regularly so we can post food pictures with the location tagged, followed by the hashtag #foodie.

We can’t help it; we all want to post something that makes us even remotely interesting to our friends and followers. Even if it is completely coincidental.

A few months ago, I took a trip to Singapore and Bali. Although I am not one to flood my timeline with photos, I posted some during my trip but saved the best ones for when my travel stories were published.

Whenever one of my travel chronicle stories would be published, I posted a photo of me in Singapore with the link in the caption as I shared my travel experience and travel tips. On one post, I received a comment from an old school mate that read, “Stop travelling, please, my throat can’t handle the constant constriction.”

Although I took it in a light-hearted manner, I couldn’t help but wonder how my posts made others feel. As travel writers, we never really share our intimate details of travel planning; we tend to be more generic so as to make the story relatable to all.

But I realised behind every perfectly taken picture is a story none of us is willing to tell. The reality behind the scenes is different from what our followers envision it to be.

The comment reminded me that I was responsible for my posts and how they affected people in my circle. We all need to be aware of how our posts affect or influence others.

Edited by Tom Jalio