Kyle Vanhemert of Wired magazine writes about a new social media app (Beme) that is supposed to help us overcome the unreality of our staged, edited, and photoshopped lives on social media. The need is real and the concept has merits, but the review is critical on several fronts. The observation that struck me is a reflection on what has become “the curated self” and how that self is so often different from the real self. And how disappointed we are with our “real selves” and our real lives. Our homes, and our children, our dinners, and our vacations seem so “ho-hum” compared to uninterrupted ecstasy that everyone else enjoys.
“SOCIAL MEDIA APPS encourage us to share certain parts of our lives and particular versions of our selves. Judging by Facebook, you’d think everyone you know is in a happy, healthy relationship—it’s weird to post a status update saying you’re lonely or pining for your ex. Instagram’s no different: You share a pic of your meal at the hot new brunch spot, not the French-bread pizza you just warmed in the microwave.
“You might call this phenomenon the rise of the Curated Self.”
After noting several problems with the app, the author writes, “a more vexing problem might be something closer to the heart of sharing itself. Namely, that for most of us, authenticity is boring. Most of my meals aren’t worth showing off. Most of the sunsets I see aren’t particularly brilliant. This is why Instagram first blew up, after all: Its filters made our ordinary lives look extraordinary. This same appeal holds true for many of today’s most popular social apps. Life is usually more interesting when it’s edited and scrutinized before being rebroadcast.” (emphasis mine)
This makes me wonder if we even know what the real problem is and where it resides. Is everyone else’s life really such a bore that we have to lie about it? Or have we lost a definition of what is worthwhile in life? Are we immersed in deep and rich wonder, but to blinded to see it? And is social media feeding this great deception?