Article title: Social media, social avatars and the psyche: is Facebook good for us?
The human is a profoundly social animal and has a brain to match, so it is not surprising to observe that the many advances in computing technology have been routinely explored for their accompanying social potential. This paper aims to explore how social media users represent themselves online, and to consider whether this process has inherent potential to impact upon the psyche of the individual. It appears that as humanity accelerates and continues to become ever more image obsessed, self-promotion will overtake self-awareness to the extent that profound psychological effects are likely to emerge over time. If individual authenticity and integration continue to be undervalued in cyberspace, the genuine self may evaporate for good and leave modern man, once again, not feeling happy with his god-like nature.
Objective: This paper aims to explore how social media users represent themselves online, and to consider whether this process has inherent potential to impact upon the psyche of the individual.
Conclusions: Advanced thinking around social media may exist on an organizational level, but on an individual level there exists a need to catch up, as the psychological dimensions of going online are significant and deserve consideration. Inherent to the experience of using social media is the self selection of favorable material to represent the individual. This process is cumulative, and effectively creates a socially-derived and socially-driven, composite online image (‘social avatar’). Humans notably select their best aspects for presentation to others and the social avatar reflects this tendency, effectively facilitating the creation of a ‘gap’ between online image (representation) and offline identity (substance). The creation of a social avatar should therefore be an important and conscious consideration for all users of social media, not just those individuals already struggling with the task of integrating the multiple facets which make up modern personal identity. Social avatars appear to be an important factor in understanding the inherent potential for social media to affect the psyche/contribute to psychopathology within the individual.
Social media and the internet: Social media, social avatars and the psyche: is Facebook good for us?
Australas Psychiatry December 2013 21: 527-532, first published on October 24, 2013 doi:10.1177/1039856213509289