I have recently learned that the opinions that I read online are not representative of the majority. Some of them may be, but many of them are not. And knowing this can be extremely valuable.
For instance, an opinion read in a Facebook group may not be representative of the larger population. I am in a lot of Bachelor groups (where we discuss the TV show, The Bachelor) and I am oftentimes surprised at how many people in those groups have both logical opinions and illogical opinions. Chris Harrison, the host of The Bachelor, has spoken on some of these opinions and has said that they are oftentimes not representative of the core viewing block of the show.
Social media gives people a platform that they don’t always deserve. Take the president of the United States for instance. Yes, perhaps he is the president, but do his views echo those of the American people?
Goffman’s theories of face and of presentation of the self are very relevant in the discussion of social media. I recently was chatting with a friend, and I told her that I would like to see people be more authentic online. She told me that she thought that was too much to ask of people.
Even though I still stand by my comment, perhaps she has a point. People have always had a version of themselves that they show the world, and then a more intimate version of themselves that they reserve for those they are closest to. It can be hard for this more intimate self to be translated onto what is the crazy and chaotic nature of the social media landscape, especially when there are so many critics out there.
These critics, some may say, lack empathy. And I think many of them do lack empathy, but I also think that there will always be people who lack empathy. This is why I think the knowledge that ultimately a lot of what is said online is bollocks can be empowering.
It’s important that our sense of self is strong enough that external influences don’t sway us in a direction we need not be swayed. We must be content and solid with ourselves, so that we can simply allow the opinions of others to pass by us like leaves in the wind. We must only take in what resonates, and what can make us better.