Self-Promotion and Social Media
by Danica Hays
Social media is an integral part of daily life. According to research done this year by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, 18-34-year-olds report-spend an average 3.8 hours every day on social media.
"I do think there is pressure to be portrayed a particular way in social media; I don't personally feel it, but I do see it," senior Abby Stover said.
Websites and mobile apps like Facebook and Instagram allow people to connect with each other anytime, anywhere. The result of this constant connectivity, however, has led to self-destructive habits that many people participate in without even realizing what they’re doing.
Social media itself isn’t bad; in fact, it can be a great tool for staying in touch with far-away friends and networking as young professionals. The question becomes how to use social media to your benefit without getting sucked into its inherent self-promoting culture.
The first issue surrounding over-usage of social media lies in the pressure to present a carefully filtered online persona.
“I definitely think there is pressure to portray yourself a certain way on social media,” said junior Sasha Netchaev.
An Instagram user might only post photos when they’re out at parties. As a result, their followers see them as a “partier.” The reality might be that the person does mundane activities throughout the week, but only chooses to share their party pictures. Examples of other online personas might be “sporty,” “artsy,” “stylish,”, or “professional.” It all depends on how someone wants to be viewed by others. This is when social media begins to distort reality.
Social media also keeps people from being present. It’s fairly common now to be scrolling through social media feeds while talking to someone at the same time, or looking at Facebook when you should be taking notes.
“The most distracting example of this in the classroom is when students toggle back and forth between social media sites and ‘notetaking’ for class on a computer…It seems strange that students, and I have seen this with faculty as well, are concerned about what they may be ‘missing’ on social media, when they are actually missing out on their present reality,” said Cheryl Crippen, a psychology professor at Chapman.
One of the biggest problems with social media is the affect it has on self-esteem.
“Social media serves as a platform for ourselves, and I believe it’s just human nature to strive for perfection, or at least have others see us that way,” said senior, Abby Stover.
In a study conducted earlier this year by two German universities, 357 college students were surveyed about their emotional responses to scrolling through their Facebook newsfeeds. While 43.8% reported positive emotions, 36.9% reported a negative emotional response. When asked why they felt so negatively, the biggest trigger was envy and social upward comparison. Photos were targeted as being the most envy inducing.
It’s hard not to be jealous of awesome study abroad photos, but the problem is when you begin to compare your life to someone else’s simply by what you see on their profile pages. Again, it’s important to realize that everyone curates their profiles, whether they know it or not.
On the other hand, online personas are crucial in giving a positive first impression to potential employers. Companies will, without a doubt, search a job candidate’s name before hiring them. What employers see online can make or break a candidate’s success.
“Self-promotion is a key part in staying in business whether you are a freelance/solo designer or a design firm that wants to maintain and grow business,” said art professor Eric Chimenti, regarding his career in graphic design.
It’s important to stay relevant in any industry and social media helps you attain that. The goal is to find the fine line between positive and negative self-promotion. Not every night out needs to be documented and not every breakfast needs an earlybird filter. When the comparisons to other people stop, the pressure to self-promote stops. The key to breaking the cycle starts with realizing the difference between social media and reality. The result is a much happier, healthier online experience.