Digital Identity: How are you portraying yourself on social media?

By Lizzie

On social media, are we millennials really presenting who we are or are we presenting a hyper-idealistic version of ourselves? Teens are drawn to social media like moths drawn to a flame. About 90 percent of U.S. internet users visit a social media site each month. Clearly, social media is a popular place on the internet for millennials to post pictures with captions about their life. Although there are many benefits to social media, it is often misused. Many kids, especially young girls, are portraying themselves as people that they're not on social media. Instead of creating a false persona, a healthy social media presence should be aligned with a real sense of identity. 

Social media is a great outlet to share your life with friends and family, but many young girls today misuse this great tool in pursuit of approval from their peers. It has been argued that the social media effect creates a false sense of self and self-esteem through the use of likes, fans, comments, posts, etc. For many social media users, it is an esteem booster, which explains why so many people spend so much time on social media. It provides many individuals with a false sense of self and an inflated sense of who they really are.  

Because of this, the version of ourselves we show on social media is not who we really are. New research conducted by the Girl Scouts indicates that many teens are reinventing themselves. In a 2010 survey of more than 1,000 girls about how they portrayed themselves online:

- 74% of girls agree that “most girls my age use social networking sites to make themselves look cooler than they really are,” and 41% admit this describes them.

-Most girls portray themselves as more well-rounded in person than online.

Girls with low self-esteem are more likely to admit that their social networking image doesn’t match their in-person image (33% compared to 18% of girls with high self-esteem). Interestingly, 56% agree that social networks help them feel closer and more connected with their friends, but only 30% think that social networks have increased the quality of their relationships. Evidently, this is a very common theme for teens today. 

How can you make sure you online portrayal is what you want? Here is my top 5 list for keeping a healthy profile online:

  1. Don't post any pictures you wouldn't want your Grandma seeing. Remember, anyone who follows you can see "that picture of you in a bikini." 
  2. Remember, fake profiles DO exist. Anyone can create an account posing as a 13 year old girl, who is actually a 31 year old man. Be aware of this.
  3. Before you let someone follow you, a good rule of thumb for Instagram is: When someone requests to follow you, and you click on their account it will usually say, "followed by ___________, __________, __________. Those in the blanks are people you know and/or follow. If the person that is requesting to follow you and yourself have mutual friends, it is most likely ok for them to follow you. 
  4. Make sure you are always keeping up your relationships in real life, not just on social media. Technology is powerful, but real life communications are always the better route.
  5. See the world! Leave your phone at home for once! Make sure you are actually seeing the world in person, not just through a camera.

So, what are you waiting for? Go be with your friends in family! Go see the world! Leave your phone at home. It will always be there when you come back. Don't let someone determine who you are, or will be. Be who YOU want to be on social media, and in real life.