Monday, May 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Superficiality or ‘Social Networking’?

In 1917, Eliot wrote of a time “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet”. Despite Eliot writing just under one hundred years ago, he neatly encapsulates the essence of social media, and the cultural compulsion to convey a specific type of person: a surface, a “face”. Social networking insistently requires us to create this surface – to select our profile pictures, ask us what we’re thinking/ how we’re feeling, whether we’re interested in men or women, where we live.

Though we’re entitled (and quite rightly) to withhold this information from public display, the fact that we’re asked creates an increased self-awareness and the means to categorise ourselves. Social networking engenders an opportunity to technologically emulate society’s obsession with “faces”.

I finally created a Twitter account and a blog to go along with it (I like to think they go nicely with my already established Facebook, Instagram and Google+ profile). Why? Because I want people to see me. But I want people to see the ‘me’ that I create for myself. Particularly since going to University I all too frequently find myself trawling through my Facebook, editing my timeline, deleting photos that could not possibly be allowed for public display because they’re too honest: they’re not the ‘Chloe’ I want to display.

I am not condemning those who use Twitter, Facebook etc: social media users are not necessarily superficial; social networking itself is. The nature of social networking, being a product and a tool with which to alter our outward appearance, makes us inclined to “prepare a face” in the form of our personal profile.

Yet, ultimately, I find acknowledging why we behave in such a way – being propelled by the giant of social networking – is better than remaining wholly ignorant So the next time Facebook asks “what’s on your mind?” perhaps you could reply with nothing rather than joining the parade of people, exhibiting themselves in the social networking microcosm.

Article: Chloe Seymour

Cartoon: WordPress Files