I recently watched a TedTalk that contemplated whether you should “live for your resume or your eulogy.” To summarize, the speaker discussed how within each of us are two selves: the first self who craves success, who builds a resume, and the second self who seeks connection, community and love — the values that make for a great eulogy. While watching the TedTalk, I found myself wondering where social media plays a role in the connection or disconnect of these two selves.
Many would argue that social networking and the power of the internet enhance our ability to connect to others, and in doing so build new communities that would not exist otherwise. In this way social media empowers the second self. With this I would have to agree. Through the internet I have connected with others who share the the same interests and I have maintained friendships that otherwise would have been lost. I exemplify this through my time spent browsing environmental blogs and forums, and in the times I have reached out to those who also share these passions, to join interest-related groups of which I am a part. And others have done the same for me. There are also months where I do not partake in direct, 1:1 contact with friends from home. However, we stay up-to-date on each others lives through our social media use, and when we return it feels as though those months never existed at all. In this way social media allows this second self to prosper and develop.
However, I also find social media limited in its ability to assist this second self. The meaningfulness and validity of these internet communities and connections is bound to a smaller extent than those that exist in the physical world. These friendships and communities would only last for so long if not maintained by personal, face to face interactions as well. It is important that to seek this second self we keep up these relationships in the physical world as well.
What frightens me is social media’s role as we seek the first mentioned self, the self who craves success. Social media has grown our resumes to not only include our professional advancements, but our social advancements as well. Quality of life is now not only hindered by long work hours, but our obsession with keeping up the perfect image in all other aspects of our lives as well. As we constantly compare ourselves to the social resumes of others, their Instagram accounts of that great vacation, the tweet about the party they were at last night, and the Facebook update about another friend engaged, we constantly remind ourselves of the fissures in our own lives, and the things that aren’t perfect. And whats worse than the businessman who isn’t satisfied until he is CEO is that there is no end goal. There is always media released that will make us feel like our lives could be better.
The TedTalk speaker stated that society favors self one and often forgets self two, leaving us where we do not receive the eulogies we may want. He leaves us with the solution as one that is based on self love, forgiveness, and faith, and this holds true where the media is involved as well. Until we feel the confidence to post, blog, tweet and partake in the events of social media without feeling the personal, emotional harm that it may cause, these first selves will outcompete the second.