BUT WHAT HAS SOCIAL MEDIA DONE TO OUR PSYCHE?
WE ASK DR ALEKS KROTOSKI ABOUT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF BEING REAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA
DOES THE ‘INSTA-PSYCHE’ EXIST (A VERSION OF OURSELVES CURATED FOR INSTAGRAM)?
We’ve always been interested in how other people think of us, and social media is the latest technology to scratch that itch. If there is anything like an ‘insta-psyche’, it’s simply people using the most widely distributed way to perform ‘the self’ in a controlled way. If you believe there’s a ‘true’ self, then we all search for it in different ways. Instagram is just the latest way that people are trying on and discarding different versions of themselves in an effort to see what fits and what doesn’t.
DO YOU SEE A BACKLASH AGAINST THE CONTRIVED PICTURES PEOPLE POST, AND A DEMAND FOR SOMETHING MORE REAL?
We want to put our best foot forward when we think we’re being viewed by others. With no real knowledge of who’s on the other side of the screen, we defer towards making ourselves look good. I don’t expect a backlash per se – we’ve had this debate about public performances of the self for a long time. What is ‘real’ to one person may be false to another. It depends on who you think is watching, and how true it is to you.
WHAT ARE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF BEING MORE AUTHENTIC?
We assume others’ psychological wellbeing based on the slice of life we see on their social media, and we might think that everyone is happier than we feel. But we’ve chased that ideal since the golden age of advertising – now we’re just doing it ourselves.
SPEAKING OF WHICH, WHY ARE BRANDS LOOKING FOR MORE AUTHENTICITY?
We’re talking about authenticity more now because people fear we’re not being authentic enough. This is a trend that comes in cycles – and right now, we want thumbprints on everything.