Hidden behind a screen

People act differently online than in person


magneticmag.com and vice.com

On the left is a picture of the food that was promoted by the creators of the Fyre Festival in their social media advertisements. On the right is the “five-star” meal that attendees actually received.

Anna Blumenthal, Staff Reporter

Every time I tell someone that I do theater, they are quick to say that they could never have the courage to do the same. Assuming the role of another person seems challenging and intimidating to most. However, people do this every day when they communicate through technology. Instead of being their authentic selves, many use the screen as an opportunity to act like someone they’re not.

The screen barrier takes out a major part of communication ー the other person. By eliminating the other person’s reactions and emotions to what is being said, it is easier for negative messages to be shared. Cyberbullying is a huge consequence of this. The Pew Research Center found in a study that about four in ten Americans have experienced some form of online harassment. Anonymous accounts serve as a mask that people can put on in order to say rude remarks to others that they would never have the guts to say to someone in real life. Technology and social media have enabled individuals to continue the bullying all throughout the day and to not have to see how it hurts the person on the receiving end.

Not only do technology users hide behind anonymous masks when they communicate with others, but they also mask their own lives when using social media apps. Many teenagers admire the glamorous lives that models and influencers living. However, not everything posted is 100% the truth. Brands endorsed by these social media influencers are usually not used by them and are only promoted in order to get a paycheck. The typical amount paid for an Instagram ad posted by an influencer is $75,000. Therefore, I highly doubt that everytime a model poses with a container of chewy hair vitamins they are actually using them and not using the paycheck earned by posing with them to go buy hair extensions instead.

 A lot of what gets promoted and appears to be incredible is actually fraudulent. For example, the creators of the FYRE app promoted an entire music festival by hiring supermodels such as Kendall Jenner to post ads on their Instagrams and promising luxury. In reality, the food shown in the photos was replaced with cold cheese sandwiches and the private jets that the models flew in were replaced with sketchy charter flights. In total, CNBC calculates that investors got scammed out of around $26 million dollars that they put into the festival. This is one large scale example of the chaos that lying on social media can cause.

Another factor that many people live with daily is FOMO (fear of missing out). People use social media to show off their ritzy vacations and the parties they attended. Scrolling through Instagram can seem a lot more like a bragging contest rather than a way to communicate with friends which can be damaging to mental health. A study conducted by the Public Library of Science reveals that Facebook usage in particular contributes to a decline in the two components that make up one’s subjective well-being. When people make their average lives seem over-the-top and lavish online, it can be damaging to other internet users who feel like their lives cannot compare. As a consequence of people changing their lives for a certain image, other people then feel like they have to do the same in order to fit in.

Technology has advanced our society in a number of ways, but when we use it to pretend to be something that we’re not it serves as a big disadvantage. From cyberbullying to promoting mental disorders, many negative consequences can occur when we don’t use social media for its intended purpose. Making a comment anonymous does not stop the person on the receiving end from feeling pain and creating the image of a perfect life hurts people who feel like they could never compare.