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Columnists

How Virtual Life has Altered our Perceptions

September 10, 2022

For more than two decades, society has been lured in by the bright light that flashes on our devices, making us connected to a virtual reality that many can no longer live without.

Social media has changed our perceptions of others and the world, but most importantly, it has transformed the way we present our own self. The difference between what we post online, and our true self varies, forming a distinction of behavior, image, and appearance in each of these worlds, initiating a separation between how people act digitally and non-digitally.

In the age where technology has not only risen in significance but has managed to overpower and take over, people feel the need to take care of their online image as it is the one that will have the most exposure.

Whether applying for a job, posting a picture on social media, or even sharing a political opinion through various platforms, the idea of freedom is what entices the majority. A digital self will always be masked as anyone can hide behind their screen in comparison to reality where the individual is somewhat unprotected. People automatically gain control of how there are seen, compared to the authenticity which comes hand in hand with reality.

This occurs as our daily lives have been digitized, tracked, and tied up in metrics. Our real selves have split into online avatars, profile pictures, and status updates. And while social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are powerful tools that have the potential to build communities, connect relatives in distant places, leverage careers, and even elect presidents, they are also unleashing a myriad of complex issues that have altered our collective sense of reality.

For example, some people use the social media platform to create something they are not. Also, if people don’t try to keep their lives balanced, the virtual world has the power to distract individuals from their real lives, making them either forget who they are or become so involved in the reality they’ve created that they don’t want to work on their own issues.

People spend time curating their image with the aim of reaching an idealized version of themselves. The concept of the ‘I vs. me’ is presented, with the ‘I’ mostly reflecting the real image of the person, whereas the ‘me’ is how the others perceive that person.

Face-to-face interactions have also been affected by this because people nowadays meet online and base their relationship and connection through a screen. The danger surrounding what goes on behind the screen and what the person expresses in reality may be the reason for inconsistency in relationships. People now have a broader circle of friendships as they create them virtually, instead of focusing on their physical social life and face-to-face connections. Society’s goal should be to move away from ‘likes’ online and focus on building bonds through conversation.

 

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