We all have a social self. A self the world sees, the part of us that we like everyone to know, the best parts of us. The words we use to interact with those around us, the image we present to the world.
The social self is merely an image projected by us, which we control, which ensures that people don’t see the darkest, most shameful or vulnerable parts of us. It’s the self we let people see, that interacts with people on a daily basis. We don’t generally let most people past this self – only those closest to us tend to get beyond it.
In many ways this is the self which protects everyone else from seeing what’s really going on inside, from who we really are.
The interesting thing about this is, that this is an exact, word-for-word description many use of the digital realm, the world of social media, the self that exists on Facebook or Twitter.
I have heard people describe it as a world we control, a version of us rather than the whole of us, which can give a false impression to people of who we are. It is a self we create, which we present to people and doesn’t involve us being vulnerable or even being honest.
Which is exactly how I would describe the social self in the physical realm.
They are, in fact, precisely the same.
The self that we present on Facebook or any social network is the social self – it has merely reinterpreted to the world a self we began to create long ago and continue to recreate all the time.
It has made that self far more obvious that it has been before, because it is in a different realm, because it’s not so tied in to our physical self.
People can keep making accusations that the digital realm isn’t real and that it’s a realm we control and we only allow certain people to see specific parts of ourselves.
But isn’t this what we do when we interact with people physically anyway? It seems much more likely that something like our Facebook profile, for example, is merely an extension and digital representation of our social self.
If we call the digital realm isn’t real, we are simply saying our social self isn’t real either.
The real question this poses then, is:
Is our social self, the one we present to the world, true – or is it not?
It’s a scary question. Because what social media has done is allow us to step away from ourselves and see parts of us that only others get to see normally. We get more of an external view.
This however all leads to an even bigger set of questions – which I will tackle in my next post:
Is the digital realm, far from being unreal, actually an extension of ourselves?
Is our digital self, in reality, actually an extension of our real mind, body and soul, merely translated into another space?
That’s for next time. In the meantime however, let us first ask ourselves not merely if our Facebook profile is a true reflection of our social self – but if our social self is a true representation of ourselves.
Do you agree that the self seen on your online self is merely a digital representation of your social self?
Do you believe the self that is represented in your online profile is true? Or is it not?
What does that mean for us?
James Prescott is a writer & creative exploring social media & the messy but divine journey of life. He blogs regularly at James Prescott.co.uk & is a regular guest blogger at bigbible.org.uk and other sites. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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