The Dark Temptation of Social Media: Double Lives

Madison Holleran posted a photo of Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia to Instagram (right) an hour before jumping to her death.
One of the deepest diseases of human nature is lying.  And I am talking about something far more subtle and destructive than bearing false witness to a teacher or police officer in order to get out of trouble. One of the darkest elements of broken humanity is to lie about who we are. To create a false identity and then try to maintain it. The need to hide our pain and sin behind a mask of smiles and virtue.

The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word for a person that wears a mask. It originates with the Greek theater, where actors wore masks to disguise not only their identity but even the sound of their voices. A hypocrite is a kind of actor that pretends to be someone they are not. Traditionally this concept has been reserved for people pretending to be moral, for example religious people, public leaders, or politicians.  But the concept is broader than preaching abstinence while practicing indulgence.  It includes those of us who stay in character once we have left the stage.  The hypocrite is essentially an imposter. We are disgusted to find out that people we respect because of their public persona are actually using their image to cover up a life of corruption and debauchery. 

Well, it appears that what was once reserved for politicians and the religious is now a growing temptation for the masses. Perhaps it was there all along. But social media has provided a window into the ubiquity of human deceit.  This article in the New York Post discusses growing darkness that lies beneath the surface in social media.  The author cites some extreme examples, but anyone with a Facebook account understands this.  We are subject to two related temptations:  To lie about our own life while believing and comparing ourselves to the lies that our friends are telling. This is no joke. 

Maureen Callahan, the author of the article in the NY Post cites an example of Zilla van den Born.  “Last year, she uploaded a monthlong series of photos taken on her travels in Southeast Asia — scuba diving, praying in a Buddhist temple, sampling local cuisine — then revealed those images were all the work of Photoshop. She had hidden in her apartment the entire time, duping even friends and family.”

Wow, how bad does life have to be to want to do this?  For those of us old enough to remember the ancient world of 10 years ago, all of this is pretty frightening.

Technology is the great magnifier. It has the potential to draw out and magnify the dark side of human nature. And can do this by several magnitudes, all while maintaining the filtered image of a smile.

Here are a few important parts of the article. The whole thing is worth reading and very important.:

‘Mai-Ly Nguyen Steers, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Houston, has spearheaded a similar study [concerning social media].“The idea came to me when my little sister, who was 16, wasn’t invited to a school dance,” Steers, 38, tells The Post. “She told me about logging on to Facebook the very next day and seeing all these pictures of her friends at the dance, and that actually made her feel worse than not being invited.”

“Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms” was co-authored with two other social psychologists and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology last year. Steers cited the work of social psychologist Leon Festinger, who, in 1954, came up with “social comparison theory,” the idea that we measure ourselves in relation to others’ failures and successes.’

Again Callahan writes,

‘Then there are those who aggressively seek out admiration and envy. Google “GoPro proposal” and you’ll get 428,000 hits — people who planned and recorded the moment they got engaged, then uploaded it for global consumption. Some couples live-stream it. Others stage-manage the “set,” then hire professional photographers to capture the moment.

“The engagement thing is so creepy,” says Chelsea Fagan, 26, whose website, The Financial Diet, covers the impact of social media on young women. “There’s this weird arms race now where everything has to be a moment, no matter how private. We always get a lot of responses with weddings and engagements — women spend a lot of money to look ‘Pinterest perfect.’ ”

It’s not just weddings or special events, though. Social-media users spend exorbitant amounts to look like their daily, everyday lives are spent eating the finest food, wearing the most on-trend designs, living a stylish, well-appointed life — no problems.’ (emphasis added)

 

Source: Our double lives: Dark realities behind ‘perfect’ online profiles | New York Post

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