Recently a friend of mine recommended that I watch the movie “The Truman Show.” Spoiler alert: I’m going to analyze it as it pertains to social media here.
Truman is a man who unknowingly lives inside a live reality TV show. He is the main character and his whole life is a fabrication. Everyone he knows is acting. He eventually discovers that he’s been living a lie and decides to escape this television show.
One of my friends brought up an interesting point: our world today is much like The Truman Show except for the fact that everyone wants to be Truman. We’re all “acting” in one way or another on social media. We’re usually showcasing aspects of our lives we want others to see. Whether it’s looking our best, our achievements, our friendships/relationships, our travels, we post things that we want our audiences to respond to.
When I step back and think about Truman’s escape, I can’t help but wonder why we want to be the stars of our own self-imposed shows. Not only are we usually not realistic in the things we post (i.e. we showcase the good stuff, and hide the bad stuff), but we also long for others to watch our shows. We hardly want to escape. We crave the attention. The respect. The applause. I’m not speaking for everyone and I certainly am speaking for myself. I’m the exact opposite of Truman. And after some reflection, I believe my own reasons for being this way are as follows:
1) Immortality. Social media, much like media, has a sense of permanence to it. Even when we die, the things we shared with our audience will remain. We will be immortalized. As someone who fears aging and death, I feel some strange solace in the idea of being permanently frozen in cyberspace. It sounds ridiculous to me even as I type this out, but it’s true.
2) Loneliness. I’ve realized that my social circle – my real social circle of like ten people – has dwindled with time. I have over 450 friends on Facebook, over 200 followers on Instagram, and I talk to/keep in touch with maybe 5% of them. Sometimes, I wish I knew/was close to more people. Sometimes, I get really lonely. And I hate feeling lonely. Thus, I often find myself posting on social media hoping to meet/get better acquainted with other people.
3) Creativity. When I’m done writing this, I’m going to post it on social media. Ironic? Yes. Perhaps it is hypocritical too because I truly do believe that social media is a strange phenomenon and I’m not sure if using it has been healthy for me. However, perhaps there is a silver lining here – it’s allowed me to share my creativity with others and see their creations as well. If social media is a show, then I’m the main actress as well as the director, the camera person, and the costume designer. I’m creating things in order to share them.
As much as I wish I could escape this virtual world sometimes, I believe that posting and partaking in social media is only the by-product of these three larger fears and desires. It is these three things that I have to confront in myself in order to rely on social media less.