Appear or to be

Social networks have betrayed their initial mission. It is not something that Roberto Maggio is inventing today, but it is a deduction that “fine scholars” have arrived at, far more prepared than me, but converging with me with respect to the final result: social networks have betrayed, they have disappointed. Born as a mass communication system, able to bring people closer and closer from one part of the world to the other, they ended up being an extension of the old commercial TVs, with the core business based on sales, advertising, fiction.
Never, as in the era of social media, have the definitions of being and appearing moved so far from each other. The typical example that is always reported in these cases is that of the “beautiful girl” (but I could say the same thing for my male colleagues) who when you see her on social media looks like Sharon Stone in the best moments, then maybe you meet her live and it is the crumpled version of itself. That barely, however, is only one of the perhaps most banal and trivialized meanings according to which the difference between what is on social media and what is reality is evident. The famous difference between being and appearing in fact manifests itself in modern times through a very profound cancellation of being in favor of appearing. I know people, but it will surely have happened to you too, who by dint of working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on their way of appearing on social media, at some point ended up “being nothing more” in real life; devoid of personality, devoid of feelings, devoid of goals that went at least beyond the next post on Instagram.
How did we get there? I have thought about it for a long time and I think I have come to define three main reasons why appearances on social media have increasingly played to the detriment of what we are in reality. Three reasons that I am going to list below.

The need for approval

The first of the great evils in the use and misuse of social networks arises from the need for approval. It is a need that man has always had. Except that before it was enough for us to have it from those 30 or 40 people who defined the circle of our acquaintances; today with social networks, between friends and followers, the audience has expanded but the aforementioned need to feel approved has remained. A need that pushes us to always be in plain sight, sensational and happy (even better if rich) in every photo shoot that then ends up online. Maybe with a happy family following that never hurts even when then maybe, at home, we don’t even talk to each other anymore. The important thing, the only reason to live to be honest, is to grab that extra like that can make us feel approved, popular, even when we are perfect Mr. Nobody. Hence what I call the narcissus fair, with the spasmodic attention to the aesthetic aspect, to the exhibition, from which in turn arise to counteract pathological phenomena of non-acceptance of one’s own absolutely dangerous aspect such as anorexia, bulimia etc. Dangers disappeared, for some reason, from the public discussion at the time of social media, but which fill the studies of psychologists and psychiatrists.

Appearing to sell

The second great group of social media “appearances” is that of salespeople, both large and small. In this case we go a step up from the need for approval because the real final goal is not to be recognized as winning but to “appear” as gurus capable of teaching us to become equally successful. In very simple words, the scheme according to which this fraudulent behavior is articulated is very clear: I am a person without art or part of it but I have a certain communicative ability. I start posting content on Instagram and Facebook in which I surround myself with clothes, cars and various situations in the name of luxury. So I make those who follow me curious and will ask themselves: how did this guy get rich? I become for “the poor losers” who make up 99.99% of the world population, an example, something that others want to become. At that point I sell him, in the true sense of the word, under courses, books or consultancy the classic “secrets of success” (aka rip-offs), a “how to” that explains from A to Z to others without art or part like me , how to get rich and famous. A guaranteed success… fake!

Fill a void

There is a final reason that pushes many people to appear on social networks and it is the need to fill a void. It is a different group of audiences than those mentioned in the previous paragraphs, because they are usually neither flashy nor beautiful. They appear on the internet “apparently” (and not surprisingly I use quotes) for what they are. But you see them posting absolutely personal topics on social networks, often whining in the sole hope of attracting pity and compassion from those who have the good fortune to end up on their profiles. “I can’t find a job”, “I’m alone in the world”, “My cat died…”. They feed on this. You see their stories on social media and you almost feel lucky compared to them. But that’s the trick because they are looking for nothing but your pity. It is something that comes from a deep inner emptiness that can be synonymous with loneliness or inability to communicate. They look for and sometimes find company on social media. But they never go too far. If you are alone in real life rest assured that you will not fill your life through social media. In fact, you can have 4999 friends on Facebook and 1 M followers on Instagram but this will not fill what you are missing. maybe you can fix someone to chat with and pretend friendship, some fleeting relationship with which to feel cool and accepted for a quarter of an hour, but if you always and only surround yourself with social relationships you will swell your belly only in appearance … And appearance is only air, it inflates you but does not feed you, it fills you but does not quench you.