I have no shame in admitting that I’m fascinated (okay, addicted) to the show Catfish. It’s a show on MTV that seeks to identify the true identities of people who are pretending to be someone they’re not by using social media to create false identities — particularly to pursue deceptive online romances. While we may not all be intentionally deceptive in the same way as a “catfish,” social media does allow us to hide behind a veil of anonymity, giving people the boldness to act and say things that they wouldn’t normally or to live vicariously through their online persona. In a recent episode of Catfish, the “catfish” said she felt no remorse for misleading the other person. And she had no plans to stop catfishing. It made me think that, with all this social media, we are — in many respects — learning to be authentically disingenuous.
An exploration of authenticity in social media and in real life.
In one of my recent social media gatherings, a group of us reflected on what it’s like to eventually meet each other in person. Someone mentioned that they find it interesting when they meet people and there is a disconnect between the online persona and the physical person. Someone that is an introvert in real life can easily become an outspoken extrovert when shielded by a monitor screen. No matter who you are, it’s always nice to bridge the online and physical connection, but it begs the question: which you is the authentic YOU? The introvert or the extrovert? The person you are putting forth in real life or the person you present to your online counterparts? And how do you choose who sees what?