Life

Last Friday Night

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DISCO DANCE PARTY!!!

What’s better than dancing the night away to glorious mainstream music? Absolutely nothing!

Grab a group of your girl and guy friends, blare some Taylor Swift, break out the party lights and there’s your perfect Friday night. Plus, as an added bonus, dancing is your cardio for the day.

Sadly this was not my past Friday night. Here is reality:

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That’s me in my basement with a disco ball, a black blanket tapped across the window and accessories I was going to wear to a costume party. Unfortunately an awful headache came on that afternoon which prevented me from attending my scheduled plans, and so I had to make do.

The parallel between my past two consecutive weekends is funny.

I went from navigating a corn maze in the dark, chatting at bonfires, cheering for synchronized swimmers (it’s a long story) and throwing a surprise birthday bash–to dancing around alone in my basement with the lights off, an iPhone blaring and a camera snapping pictures on a tripod.

But really, do pictures ever accurately represent anything–especially pictures posted on social media?

I study and work in the field of Public Relations. One big trend right now is using image-centric marketing instead of text. Trend ReportsΒ states between 65 and 85 percent of people describe themselves as visual learners. They rather view information in the form of an image instead of reading text. Images grab our attention easily and quickly. This makes sense since social media posts, accompanied with an image, are ten times more likely to receive engagement.

Our brains process images insanely fast. When we view a picture, we judge it within a quick time span, perceiving the meaning and scenario within it instantly. I found some surprising facts on the BioMed Central Blog. The human brain can recognize a familiar object within 100 milliseconds and a familiar face within 380 milliseconds. Talk about a speedy judgment!

How much of what we view, or what we ourselves post, is really accurate? Over recent years, image-based media sites have exploded, along with our use of smartphone photography. More and more people have smartphones, so more and more people have the ability to not only take their own photos, but dramatically enhance them through artistic filters.

We are becoming conditioned to only post photos of our best, although probably unrealistic selves. It’s a virtually way of trying to keep up with everyone else’s highlight reel. By spending so much time developing our digital selves, what happens to our real selves?

Our real selves are dancing alone in a basement to trendy music and a disco ball.

Social media puts an interesting lens on the creation of self. It basically allows us to create what we think we should be, rather than what we actually are. How many times have you posted a smiling, happy photo of yourself at a party, when in reality it was not that fun? I know I have. And the scary thing is I’ll look back at the memory and the photo and start to convince myself it was a good memory.

For obvious reasons people do not advertise negative traits on their social media profiles, or unflattering pictures. Consequently, we are fooled into believing other people’s lives are better than our own.

The bottom line is to remember that everyone wears a mask the exact same way I do.

The power of pictures is real–but not necessarily what you see.

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