Since its introduction in 2004, Facebook is growing at an alarming rate (Wittkower, 2014). As of now, the number of users ranges in billions. For some people, Facebook is a social network that provides numerous opportunities. However, many individuals consume and project idealized outlooks via Facebook without comprehending their effects on identity. That is why this papers content seeks to explain how the formation of a Facebook profile says about the self and its connection to society.
With regards to Panek, Nardis and Konrath (2013), around 90% of internet users in the United States (US) visit social networking sites every month. It implies that, since everyone lives in a globalized world, the creation and maintenance of an internet-based presence is the crucial thing in promoting personalities and increasing social networks. That bases on peoples perception, specifically on social media. It is something that predisposes the ideal self. That means it is every individuals wish to maximize profession and careers as a way of matching with the people they view as successful in life (Strano, 2008). As social media usage evolves, the idea of presenting the ideal self versus the real self is becoming highly prevalent on the Facebook platform. It is imperative to know that the true self-denotes personality characteristics or attributes. But, the ideal self-represents the feeling of what one wants to be because of societal and environmental influences. Based on a societal viewpoint, competition, status, and accomplishment are things that drive peoples lives (Wittkower, 2014). That makes the creation and presentation of the ideal self as the primary choice for many individuals around the world.
It is important to consider the notion where people take Facebook profiles as a representation of what they are (Gosling, Gaddis & Vazire, 2007). If that is so, it is right to acknowledge interactions with Facebook as a happening that allows the intersection of the ideal self and the real self. That causes the partial actualization of the ideal self, thereby making Facebook profiles a depiction of the individuals ideals by eliminating the constituents of the real self (Wittkower, 2014). It is as the digital world melts into physical interactions and vice versa. The virtual and the real personalities are nowadays becoming less distinct on socialization sites. Based on such suggestions, one can deduce that the version of self that people present on Facebook profiles is emerging as their real life situations. That is what they are inclined to think even if it is not a fact. For better understanding, take the case of the real world where people have a network of relationships, including friends, family members, and other acquaintances. Depending on the nature of relationships and circumstances, individuals are poised to portray various personalities (Boon & Sinclair, 2009). At times, a person is likely to lie to a friend or a family member as a way of maintaining distinct personality impressions. However, on Facebook profiles, such boundaries disappear. That creates space for the portrayal of the ideal self.
It is no news that the original intention of creating Facebook profiles is where an individual targeted a particular circle of friends. In that case, these are people that have the right to follow the posts of that person. For the past decade, the expansion of Facebook forces persons to go beyond the limits of close friends and include acquaintances and group members (Gosling, Gaddis & Vazire, 2007). They all come from diverse backgrounds based on educational institutions and other localities. That requires Facebook to change their profiles, make targeted posts and customize newsfeed. All these are time-consuming undertakings that people care less these days. It is a habit that Danah Boyd (an ethnographer) terms as social convergence on Facebook as an outcome of merging multiple worlds of socialization, including the virtual and the real worlds (Panek, Nardis & Konrath, 2013). What happens after that is context collapse where Facebook brings together various scopes of socialization in a simultaneous manner. It is like a persons profile is trying to communicate to a mother, a work colleague, game buddy and ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend at the same time. That is why people choose to portray the ideal self rather than the real self. When that occurs, certain social issues arise in regards to individual identity. They encompass difficulties in decision-making based on the reactionary influences of Facebook friends. For example, if a person tags one friend in a picture, there are chances that another friend is going to react positively or negatively (Delise, 2012). The favorable decision is where everything on Facebook needs to impress friends. One way of doing so is taking into account an ideal stance at all times.
In a study conducted in 2012, researchers created 36 rules about friendships on Facebook based on a contextual analysis of group data about management of impressions. Among the given guidelines, one of them urges individuals to project their profiles in a way that identifies with other people (Delise, 2012). It precedes another one telling individuals to know that profiles on Facebook have the capability of exposing lies. With these predispositions, it is clear that profiles on Facebook create friendships that are similar to the ones in the real life. The 36 rules stress on creating and maintaining Facebook profiles that look good. If that is the case, then everyone concentrates on having an appealing identity in the virtual world (Wittkower, 2014). It is the primary cause of projecting profiles of the ideal self on Facebook.
Besides, in disparaging moments, individuals expect their friends to intervene as a way of protecting reputations. It is the same expectation people have in all social situations. Such aspects encourage people to present their perfect self either virtually or physically. But, unlike face-to-face interactions, Facebook profiles focus more on showing the positive image of the ideal self. It is because; offline friendship is highly complex since it characterizes many responsibilities. For instance, people require friends to pay attention to whatever they have to say such as worries and complaints. Also, they want friends to understand and support acts that are not attractive, polite or likable. It makes Facebook profiles a portrayal of the ideal self that focuses on maintaining a construct of a happy person (Strano, 2008). That is the reason why researchers urge individuals to take Facebook friendships as access-based relationships rather than affectionate, intimate or emotionally attached ones. By becoming Facebook friends, one attains the publishing and viewing rights to the identity of others. In physical interactions, the case is different since individuals have the freedom to control their identity, thereby leading to the tailoring of the real self-based on the immediate scenarios. If it is in the company of friends, they also have to consider what they say depending on surrounding individuals. It means they are aware of the social consequences that concern the act of revealing inappropriate information to particular audiences (Boon & Sinclair, 2009). The case is different for Facebook where a friend is likely to post a socially-damaging picture like a wild party. It becomes visible to bosses, parents, and acquaintances. No one wants that identity when portraying the ideal self.
From the discussions above, it is possible to recognize facts that dictate the personality of Facebook users. The baseline is that Facebook profiles present an untrue sense of self-esteem plus the ideal self because of influences induced by posts, fans, and comments, among other things (Delise, 2012). For many Facebook users, ideal profiles boost their esteem that is why they dedicate a lot of time to creating and maintaining an appealing self. But, that is a wrong self-sense that inflates their real identities. If one becomes a victim, the chances of living in fear are always high. It infects the real self where an individual wants to express a perfect appearance in the actual world. The result is where people are no longer projecting their true self, even in physical interactions. It is like the virtual perfectionism of Facebook profiles controls how they live. What that means is the dwindling significance of real identities in the societies. Individuals are no longer who they think they are (Wittkower, 2014). They are products of the idealism that relates to the creation and maintenance of Facebook profiles.
In conclusion, it is advisable for Facebook users to learn how to differentiate an online identity from the offline one. With such distinctions, there is no way one is going to live with fear regarding exposure. Everything concerning Facebook profiles needs to reflect the real world personality. These include, but not limited to background information, academic life, and work experiences. Instead of people concentrating on creating ideal personas virtually, they need to use such effort and time to attain objectives that are inclined to match the real self with the ideal self at all times. In doing so, one is going to feel secure and satisfied. These are two main things that contribute to self-actualization in the society.
Boon, S., & Sinclair, C. (2009). A world I dont inhabit: disquiet and identity in Second Life and Facebook. Educational Media International, 46(2), 99-110.
Delise, N. N. (2012). Me, Myself, & Identity Online: Identity Salience on Facebook vs Non-Virtual Identity. University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations, 1-94.
Gosling, S. D., Gaddis, S., & Vazire, S. (2007). Personality Impressions Based on Facebook Profiles. ICWSM, 7, 1-4.
Panek, E. T., Nardis, Y., & Konrath, S. (2013). Mirror or Megaphone?: How relationships between narcissism and social networking site use differ on Facebook and Twitter. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), 2004-2012.
Strano, M. M. (2008). User descriptions and interpretations of self-presentation through Facebook profile images. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 2(2), 5-10.
Wittkower, D. E. (2014). Facebook and dramauthentic identity: A post-Goffmanian theory of identity performance on SNS. First Monday, 19(4), 1-53.
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