How much do we truly reveal online?
By Nina Phichitsingh
Social media is without a doubt one of the most controversial topics; one that has garnered a lot of mixed views since its existence. Everyone has a unique relationship with it: from ‘love-hate’ relationships with it; to splitting up with it completely; to successfully using it as medium of expression to document their adventures and passions. Some even use it to share and heal, taking their audience along with them on their journey.
This begs the question, how much of our lives do we reveal online? How much of it is ‘real’? How much of it is curated? I sought out three interesting individuals who use their platforms for a purpose. They share what social media means to them, where they draw the line, and how they decide what they post. They also touch on the negativities associated with social media and how they’ve conquered them. All three community members have one common thread in their responses: the importance of awareness in posting.
Preetika Narula, 28
Business Manager at Bombay Plastics
When one thinks about social media, one might have negative perceptions of it. That’s because many people view social media as being a toxic outlet where a lot of negativity and hatred is spread. But for me, social media means something else entirely. I don’t use various social media platforms because I want to spread hate or because of any other negative reasons or because I see social media as being an escape from reality.
Instead, I see social media as being a pathway towards greater opportunities. For starters, I’m quite an expert when it comes to using Instagram, and it’s my go- to choice of social media platform. That’s because I view Instagram as being like a personal diary for me where I can share anecdotes about my daily life. In fact, Instagram has become such a big part of my life that I even created a separate page just to document all my adventures at music festivals. From creating reels to sharing stories and being able to interact with celebrities, I’ve come to love this social media platform and see the benefits it has, especially in helping to facilitate one’s pursuit towards achieving all their goals.
When it comes to using Instagram, I don’t really have a plan per se about the kind of content I want to upload. I love dressing up and taking pictures so my feed mostly centers around my outfit of the day. There are the occasional photos with DJs from the times attending music festivals and there are a couple posts about my dog. Who doesn’t love seeing an animal post? When it comes to reels, I try to just have fun eventhough my main account is private. I don’t post content to get likes or because I’m hogging attention, but it can be fun creating reels after a long day of work.
Even though I post a lot of content on my Instagram, be it reels, posts or stories even; I normally refrain from posting private moments such as heavy public displays of affection, like intimate kissing photos with a partner, because I believe those kinds of moments are best cherished privately instead of for the whole world to see.
At the end of the day, don’t take social media seriously unless it’s for your business (then for sure, go all out with it). It’s all about having fun but doing so in a safe space and being respectful in the way you post content.
Nathavout ‘Rocky’ Khanuja, 30
Mergers & Acquisitions Manager at sennder
The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends and family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are. The proverb above is something I constantly remind myself of, especially in today’s world where the line between ‘sharing’ and ‘broadcasting’ has been blurred with the existence of social media.
Among its many benefits, social media allows us to communicate and stay in touch with family and friends around the world. However, we live in the age of social media where collecting friends and followers has, in many ways, overtaken actually being friendly.
Sharing my life on social media has always been about archiving my journeys and adventures; for ease of access, for highlights, and naturally, for the people in my close circle and network to see. While people believe that what they see is the truest extent of my personality, my close friends and family will always realise that it is merely a face I have permitted the world to see. Social media, for me, has never been a platform for validation or an outlet for oversharing. And this is reflected in the kind of posts I share.
Over the years, I have witnessed numerous people around me being extremely impacted by social media in negative ways; be it the amplified insecurity revolving around their lives and appearances, the constant FOMO, or the formation of unrealistic expectations. To help promote self-awareness and lessen the potential negative impacts of social media usage, I always recommend that people watch The Social Dilemma (2020)and The Great Hack (2019), two of my favourite docu-dramas that keep me and my mental health in check. Trust me, it works!
While I consistently journal my adventures and achievements on social media, I always draw the line when it comes to posts that could be intrusive on my own privacy and/ or impact the lives of my loved ones. It is only wise to ‘pause before posting’. One should always consider the concept of digital permanence – once on the internet, always on the internet!
Jaspreet ‘Preeti’ Narang, 34
Co-Founder and Director, Siam Gateway Co., Ltd
Social media, particularly Instagram, is such a great tool for me to creatively express myself and document my experiences in an open journal format. It allows me to combine my love for photography and writing in one space.
I do not use this platform as an unrealistic highlight reel of my life. Nor do I use it to impress anyone or gather a following. I use it because it brings me joy, connection, and freedom of expression. I post as and when I’m inspired, and I go on long hiatuses when life gets stagnant or overly busy. I do not overthink a post or a story, and if I find myself overthinking it, then I step away from the platform for a while.
I have found that there isn’t really a limit to what I’m willing to share when it comes to personal experiential topics, as long as I remain authentic to myself and know my truth. I’ve shared some of the best moments of my life (as we all do), as well as some of my biggest struggles. Especially in the past few years, I’ve been as candid as I am willing to be about my mental health struggles on @innerchildthings, and taken people on a journey with me as I navigate therapy, medication, and the impact of trauma on my mind and body. In the act of sharing, I am processing my emotions in real-time and gaining insight into myself in real-time as well, which has been tremendously healing. I have found it to be immensely liberating to dictate my own story, and to connect with people in this raw and vulnerable manner. In being vulnerable, I have found great invulnerability.
As much of an open book as I have been on my socials, I tend to keep my political views to myself. I find politics to be one of the most divisive forces of our generation, simply because we have foregone taking the time to listen, be curious, and empathise with each other’s differing perspectives. This requires creating a safe space for fluid dialogue – an aspect where social media falls short in my opinion.
Having said all of this, social platforms can be a ruthless space, and for that reason I have learned to set strong boundaries for who I allow into my world as I continue to document all the highs, lows, and messy in-betweens of this beautiful journey we call life.