Are you willing to risk your authenticity to be liked? Or, are you willing to risk being liked for being authentic? To be authentic begins with being vulnerable—for one to be truly authentic one must be willing to present his/her failures, inadequacies and admit mistakes and shortcomings. One must present the real self. But, to what extent are you willing to be vulnerable? And, is it a risk worth taking?
In the social media era, the value of being liked has taken precedence over the value of being authentic. The like button phenomenon has heightened the manufactured value of being liked. This madness has infiltrated almost all aspects of our daily lives. Getting likes on Facebook and Instagram somehow translates into an elevated status or becoming more valuable in today’s social communities. The more likes you get the more valuable you become and the more influence you have on others. Somehow, a simple like button has the ability to add or diminish a person’s dignity and identity.
Social media likes have become a matrix to measure our significance in the society. The idea that a simple button can have such significant impact on a person’s value is mind boggling. The fact that we must use filters to increase likability says a lot about the social conventions that we have conformed to. There is a need to somehow alter or enhance certain elements of our real self through filters and edits for likes. Are we hiding behind a filter and covering our flaws for likes and validation? By doing so do people even really get to know you and on the other hand, do you truly get to know those you consider your friends?Some may argue that perhaps being vulnerable has a significant risk and can be more damaging to a person’s identity. While I agree that this is true, and to a degree scary, then this leads me to wonder: how far are we willing to go to be liked and at what point do we lose our real identity in the process of striving for likes?
Have we become enslaved to social media likes that we are willing to filter, erase, enhance and alter our appearances at the expense of authenticity? Social media has created a filtered and fantasy-filled generation. A generation that may not ever know what it is like to be authentic. The value of likes has become the mere source of validation. We so desperately want to be liked that we hide and alter our real identity— the identity with flaws and struggles. Society has created new standards that we have to measure up to and be judged against. And by the way do people even genuinely like what you share on social media or they do so because they feel a sense of obligation to click the like button because, maybe, it has become the normal thing to do. Liking someone’s post or picture gives you a sense that you have done someone a favor, you have helped them increase their ‘popularity’ and self-esteem.
The like button, arguably, makes more sense for businesses because the more people like a product that they post on social media, the more likely potential customers will become curious and possibly consider buying the product. In essence, the likes convert to revenue, somehow, for the businesses. But when it comes to you, do you post something on social media because you like it so much that you really must share it? Or, do you post it so that others can see it and do the magical thing—like it! Admit it, you feel better and ‘accepted’ when your picture gets hundreds of likes, the feeling is not the same when you only get two likes. Surely, does it really matter that much?
We are in a constant state of self-evaluation to see how we fair against the social standards. We feel the need to be validated by the social media communities that we have formed. I am talking about the virtual communities that are far from the reality with judges that maintain constant pressure on the need for one to meet the criteria to earn the glorious validation— the likes! We have created connections with people on the other side of the screen based on filtered images and filtered representations of ourselves. But, are we truly having real connections with people if we are not willing to be authentic and vulnerable? What about your personal brand? What happens to your brand if you are not being authentic? When will you get rid of the mask and start living?
Will you choose authenticity or the ‘glamorous’ likes?
–Blog by Nyokabi