Are We Living a Split Life?

The way social media impacts our online identities is something I reflect upon regularly, but the course readings and videos from this week really struck me. It is hard to believe the impact that social media has on our reality. And the reality of it is, young Canadians are growing up in a wired world.

Young Canadiana Life Online

Graphic via Media Smarts retreived from: http://mediasmarts.ca/ycww

It is hard to believe how much of our online presence is impacted by an algorithm which shapes the content we are shown. Sites such as Facebook are experts at this, deciding which posts we should see through a mathematical equitation. This is something that really grinds my gears as only became aware of this algorithm after reading “Facebook – Our ffriendly automated identity bender” by Jason Miller.  I had a feeling Facebook somehow was differentiating what I should see due to the content of my News Feed, but I was unaware of the invisible criteria. Miller’s post lead me to a post by Danah Boyd regarding what the Facebook experiment teaches us. It is hard to believe that Facebook chooses who we should see and interact with (just so we will come back again… and again). Furthermore, does what we see have a greater impact than just coming back? Does it affect us emotionally?

Facebook created a mood manipulation experiment to find that exact question out. Is Facebook slowly changing the way we see the world through this invisible power?

“Because so many people, rightly or wrongly, use the platform as their primary communication medium, Facebook’s news item filtering algorithms can have a direct impact on what kind of person your ffriends think you are.” – Jason Millar

But this isn’t only Facebook’s problem. The way social media impacts our identity is prevalent on all social media sites. Additionally our identity is shaped in what we choose to post and how we choose to perceive others posts. In the case of Madison Holleran, her life seemed to be ideal, by what she was posting on Instagram, but what was missing was the parts of her life you can’t see… the hardships, struggles, and depression.  The hashtag campaign #LifeUnfiltered opens the conversation of how much we filter our real self on social. Our identities are often projecting a spilt image, depicting to your social network, the person you want them to see. Are we masking depression online? Why do we feel the need to compare ourselves to others online?

So I leave you with this question: Are our lives really an augmented reality? Do we really experience digital dualism? Or are we living a split life between online and offline, presenting the “person we want to be” in our online identities?

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