When you hear the term "alternative reality" or "parallel universe" our minds immediately jump to science fiction. It is a concept that many people speculate but in the end there is no scientific evidence that such a place exists. However there is something very similar that is in fact a reality and it won't be found looking up to the stars. It is right here on earth, among us on a daily basis and influencing our perception of reality. It is our social media accounts.
Social media has become a place for people of all ages to escape reality and create their own perfect world. It is a world that can then be broadcasted to thousands, even millions, of people across the globe. For too long people have been looking through pictures on Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets and are assuming that what they are seeing is real. Young adults look up to "social media superstars" who have amassed hundred of thousands of followers and aspire to be just like them.
They portray a carefree life of beauty, luxury and happiness that unfortunately, more often than not, is a false advertisement. The photographs that are being posted are an inaccurate representation of real beauty, real happiness and real life.
Recently Essena O'Neill, a teenager with thousands of followers on Instagram declared that she is "quitting social media". Revamping her Instagram, the teen edited many of the captions on her photos to reveal the truth behind the circumstances of which the photos were taken before eventually removing the pictures from the Instagram account entirely.
The truth is that pictures on social media are just small snapshots of our lives. Imagine life as an enormous iceberg and the small portion above the water is equivalent to what we see on social media. There is so much more lying deep beneath the surface, unseen to those on top of the water. However we look at this iceberg and assume that we are seeing the whole picture just like when we look at social media we incorrectly assume that we are seeing a whole and accurate portrayal of someone's life.
What Essena O'Neill did was nothing short of extremely brave and bold. She is being the right type of role model that young people need; someone who is prepared to speak the truth about social media and the misconceptions of happiness and beauty that is carried in its wake. O'Neill's edited captions gave an accurate portrayal of life, the good and the bad and that is what we need more of in today's society.
On the Internet we can be whomever we want. We can post a picture of ourselves without anyone knowing that we really took fifty or so photos to get the "perfect shot". Photoshop and editing then allow us to distort reality even further. What this leaves is an image that is not an accurate depiction of reality.
The problem arises when young people begin to look at these photos and tell themselves that this is what they need to aspire to in order to be beautiful and happy. They set an unreachable standard for themselves. When they are not able to achieve this they are left disappointed, discouraged and with their self-image tarnished.
Many people may read this and not understand why any of this matters. Everyone has the right to post whatever they would like on social media. This is their right and I do not disagree. There is nothing wrong with social media and its original intentions of sharing photos and information with our friends and family. However overtime, somehow, this mass media outlet has spiraled out of control and turned into a validation of young people's beauty, happiness and self-worth. This is most likely not the majority of people's intentions but whether we like it or not it is being implied.
Validation of our self-worth, beauty and happiness should not come from social media. It should come from within us. We are all flawed human beings; none of us are perfect. However it is crucial that we learn to love ourselves exactly the way that we are. We shouldn't be evaluating ourselves based on how many likes our pictures receive on Instagram or whether we look like the people we are following. This is no representation of who we are or what we are worth as a person. Young people look up to social media celebrities and they aspire to be like them. Whether they like it or not people with thousands of followers on social media are role models.
We should not only start portraying real beauty and real happiness but also the struggles of real life. It is what's real that is most beautiful, the good and the bad. The more we portray that message on social media the more young adults will learn to love themselves for who they are instead of striving to be an image that in reality does not exist.
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To answer this question, is necessary to establish the context of your question. Since you mention the perception of reality, I assume you are talking about media that discuss current events and news. T's also necessary to understand that different forms of media portray information in different ways. These different modes of communication affect people in different ways as well.
The idea that our perception of reality can be affected by media portrayals is related to the way that different forms of mass media can manipulate or otherwise enhance factual information. Media that combine visual and audio components, for example, make it possible to create a narrative that engages our senses and emotions. For this reason, we generally accept that watching the news on television might be a more emotionally manipulative experience then reading the same story in a newspaper or hearing it on the radio. Television engages our sight and hearing, whereas print is visual, and audio, radio for example, engages only our hearing.
It is also true that television is frequently a vehicle for fictional narrative, and our television news often creates dynamic presentations of the news to engage our attention and to attract viewership. Is it possible that we don't always distinguish between fictional narrative and news reports? The news networks do seem to blur this line sometimes, offering dramatic spectacle to drive up ratings and thereby increase their advertising revenue.
In recent years, newspaper readership has declined greatly. Also many people tend to get their news via the Internet, where it is also possible to receive News with audio and visual components, because TV and radio have websites that make up their broadcasts available. It seems far more likely that people receive their news via more dynamic forms of media, and the critical thinking and analysis that are usually part of reading print news stories are now replaced by a more passive reception of news from these other forms of media.
Internet based news stories are often at least partially in print form, but contain images and audio or video clips to enhance the experience. These articles are also most often shorter in length than print newspaper articles, and so do not provide the same depth of information, and this can also affect our perception of factual elements. It is common to hear the sarcastic statement "I saw it on the internet so it must be true," and this refers to the tendency for unreliable information to be disseminated in the same way as factual information, with little effort made to distinguish the difference. It has become not uncommon for people to say that mainstream media ("MSM") is in the business of distorting the truth. These are all disturbing trends that relate to the idea of media and its impact on our perception of reality.