A few months ago, while moving back from Winnipeg to Brandon for my last year of school, I found myself apartment hunting again. I dug through online ads for spaces that accommodated both my student budget and my need for peace and quiet. After sending of a few emails, I received an email back from one prospective landlord with the phrase “Hi Lisa, you definitely seem like a good fit for this home.” Confused at how this man had already made that judgement without having even spoken to me, I later realized through a phone interview that this landlord had taken my name of my email and done a background check of me through google and social media. So, first, I will mention that as a journalist I do make sure to google myself often and maintain a good and clean online presence on all my platforms, which is why he might have found me impressive. However, I am also very keenly aware of the fact, especially because I vigorously put out my best on these platforms, that my internet persona is absolutely not a good manner to make a good and wholesome judgement of who I am as a person. I did end up getting the place, without any references or criminal background checks, solely based on my professional outlook on my Facebook and Instagram accounts. And that really got me thinking.....
In a world consumed by digital activity, popularity analytics, and neon screens, it is not entirely irrational to make a judgement of a person through their social platforms; after all, what we consciously decide to put out there is in itself a reflection of who we are, but it starts to become a blurry line when people begin confusing your curated Instagram feed with what skills you may bring as a prospective employee. For myself, I have especially detested the charm of Instagram. Mine is highly curated with mostly professional pictures I have taken with my camera or one of me taken by others. It shows a glamorous life of an artist and model who travels enough and has tons of friends. But how much of that is something I do day to day? Would I put my mental breakdowns, failures, and insecurities into my feed for the world to see? Answers: Very little, and No. What makes Instagram so successful is also exactly what makes it toxic: it is for beautiful and visually appealing content only. The result is billions of photos being uploaded everyday, each trying to leave its mark in a tsunami of colours and words, making us both admire and envy each other. “Is their life better than mine?” , “Why can’t I have what they have?” These are age old desires, but now amplified and brought down to a rapid touch under your fingers.
We find ourselves here in this crossroad of endlessly comparing yourself to your peers all behind a veil of self expression, hiding an inherent fakeness. It’s problematic, it’s cancerous, it’s apocalyptic. After my own account with acquiring my rental unit, I became even more hyper aware of what I post on social media. I deleted photos, took my name off publications, unfollowed people that didn’t seem fit to be in my circles, all for the pursuit of making a digital life, beyond my tangible one, that isn’t either genuine nor is it a true reflection of myself. I have in the last few months made attempts at straying away from social media and the negative influence of the digital age; however, as I find myself looking for a post-grad job
and making new friends and meeting new dates...how well curated my online presence is keeps coming back to haunt me. I am not sure when will the end of this influencer culture be, but I am sure it is not any time soon.