January 28, 2023

The Curated Self on Social Media

By: Tatiana Skomski

When you think of a curator often times you think of someone who works in a museum or art gallery. This idea has transformed over the past few years with the growing use of social media. People are becoming curators of their virtual identities and creating whole new personas for themselves. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are now seen as public spaces where people can share parts of themselves to the world, similar to what a curator does in a museum.

The new, curated self on social media is filled with people leading the perfect lives, traveling to exotic places and being happy all the time. Except, in real life, these people are actually living the exact same boring lives we all are. Pictures that are posted are often times staged in order to add to the façades people are creating for themselves.

Social media has given people the ability to show whatever parts of themselves they choose. Profile pictures (and the way they are edited), liked pages, songs played on public playlists, comments on photos, tweets and status updates all play a part in creating “the virtual self.”

Here are a few ways your social media identity plays a part in your real life:

Your presence on social media platforms are all controllable. You are able to choose which snapshot moments of your life you share and which to not. You are also able to delete posts you later regret, which is not true for real life. You can’t go back and delete something you said in the real world, but in the virtual world you can. With social media, people have the ability to carefully handpick content to post and strategically choose what to share.  Everyone wants to be able to write the story of how their lives are going to turn out and with social media and an online identity, people can. People are able to “stage” the moments of their lives to share to the world, just like a curator does with art for a museum.

Ultimately, people like being able to take control of the story that is being told. It is hard to control what happens in real life, so why not do so on social media?

8 thoughts on “The Curated Self on Social Media

  1. I definitely agree with this, yet on the other hand, I also believe that by having that power to choose we are offering a limited viewpoint into our online lives. It could be disappointing to met someone in real life and discover that they are nothing like the posts they shared on social media. As users of social media we are all in charge of the posts and pictures that we put out there to represent ourselves and I agree that we can exercise this control. But I still believe that by hiding behind a screen and posting this “brand” of yourself can be damaging as you can pick and choose what to post. In this case having power can actually do more harm than good to someone’s reputation.

  2. Nice post! I think I am guilty of that. I personally do not post things with the intention of having the ‘perfect’ life. For example, my Instagram is mainly of my photography work. While my Facebook I share more achievements but only because of family that I want to keep in the loop. I try to highlight all aspects of my life to an extent. However, I believe that you can’t showcase every high or low on social media. Somethings should just be kept private, you know?

  3. It’s so easy to look at the photos posted by others and either admire or envy the adventures and great moments captured on their social media. I was actually sad to make the realization several years ago, that many of these curations are in fact simply snap shots of the ideal and perfect moments in an individuals life. In fact, I often seek to overlook this fact because I enjoyed admiring my friends and their many adventures because it encouraged me to go out and make my own invaluable memories. Maybe most of the time these people lead ‘normal’ lives, but I am glad they share the exciting aspects of it as well!

  4. Before I post anything online I definitely think about what I’m saying and what I’m portraying. I just did it while writing this comment. I wrote something, then deleted it because it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to say. I think it’s true that people like to post the best versions of themselves most of the time. Personally, I don’t like to share moments with the Internet where I feel sad or angry. I like to post tweets and Instagram pictures that make me happy and keep most, if not all, of the bad off of the Internet.

  5. Hi Tatiana!

    Your post reminded me of an article I read recently, describing the concept of the “minimalist pixie dream girl” (find the article here bit.ly/1Hj6HVm). This concept is based on the original concept of the “manic pixie dream girl,” a term coined in 2007 to describe “psychotically bubbly” on-screen female characters.

    According to the article, the “minimalist pixie dream girl” is the epitome of “lifestyle porn”. I love this term. Like you said in your blog post, many of us curate our social media profiles to present a certain image/style. The “minimalist pixie dream girl” does this to the extreme – and we are obsessed with “her” way of life. I love this author’s voice – definitely check the article out.

  6. Tatiana, I enjoyed reading your post this week. I think the “curated self” weighs heavily on people who can’t avoid comparing their own life, with all its highs and lows, to the picture-perfect depiction of connections’ lives on social media. I know that I am guilty of this occasionally! Is there really a way to avoid depicting your “curated self” though? As Polly said, some things stay private. Rarely do you see the fitness models or accounts post pictures on Instagram of their ‘fall off the wagon days’ though I imagine even the best of them occasionally do. Maybe we should applaud people for choosing to share positivity. I personally don’t love Facebook rants…that usually earns a quick unfollow from me.

  7. This is a very interesting concept unique to our generation. Honestly, I feel like if we all just got rid of social media, everyone’s self esteem would skyrocket. There’s a funny article I recently read called “The Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl: Who She Is And Why I Hate Her,” which criticizes the way that females are portrayed in lifestyle websites, publications, or blogs. I would say the worst offender is Pinterest, but Instagram is up there too. The writer calls it “general lifestyle porn” (comparable to “food porn” or “travel porn”). It’s pretty funny to read only because we’ve all been there. We’ve re-pinned photo after photo of these totally unattainable lifestyles, wondering why we can’t live that way too, then relentlessly contribute to the problem by staging these totally chic-looking Instagram photo shoots that look equally as effortless, but in reality took so much effort that you’re just left feeling ashamed of yourself. Here’s the article link: http://thefinancialdiet.com/the-minimalist-pixie-dream-girl-who-she-is-and-why-i-hate-her/

  8. Great post Tatiana! Social media is such a controversial topic because it has caused networking to be so much easier, but it also shows people certain aspects of a person, brand, or company. People are also being too self critical because unlike at the start of Instagram, people are using accounts to post pictures and advertisements that have been altered or edited. Instead of sharing cool pictures taken in a given moment, people strategically plan what and when they will post each picture. It’s no longer for pleasure and personal use between friends.

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