Friday, August 28, 2015

Selection bias in social media

DSC04319 (1400x933) - CopyNo one on the Internet is living the life you think they are.

Freelance writer Paul Jarvis

One of two basic truths about social media that we post only fun, flattering, and fabulous things about ourselves.   Typical tedium and toil are seldom remarked on, rarely worth documenting.

Reciprocally, we only see the high points in other’s lives, their vacation pictures, professional awards, and victorious stories.  It makes everyone seem smarter, more fulfilled, happier, and more successful than we are.

Personally, I don’t chide myself for projecting positive notes.  I purposefully write about DSC04287 (900x1400)the best things in life on my blog, posting pictures that make me happiest on Instagram.  (Facebook, however, remains a swamp for petty cruelties, my other basic truth.)

Virtuously. this stance forces me to reflect well on my days, to fill in some context, to capture a good illustration.

It also encourages me to take the time to find new experiences, to take a better photograph, to read some history about a place, that I might not otherwise do.

In other people’s posts, I keep perspective on all of  the positives.   Alongside  travel blogs, I follow a friend’s chronicle of cancer treatments, day by day, finding both inspirational.  Against startup successes described on Medium, I join friends when they hit a rough patch, finding both sobering.  I always remember that there are two sides to every human condition.

100 daysI got an email this morning reminding me that my 100 Happy Days are up: How Did It Go For You

Its been a challenge, thank you.

I feel like the three months have held some of the best and worst times in my life.   I could never have predicted the events, wouldn’t have foreseen the ways that people would act as things unfolded.

Perhaps I should have written a more balanced account, but it’s hard to discuss the reflections or express the resilience that these times have required.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all, observed Helen Keller.   

I tend my social media in that spirit.  Maybe it’s only ‘Peripatetic FOMO’ (I had to look  that up: Seeking through travel, philosophizing while walking).  If so, as Jarvis suggests, I can only plead that it’s not actually the whole life I’m living.  ‘hopefully some, though.

Rather, my Internet persona expresses both what I do and what I want to be known for doing.  It’s a reflection of my own journey towards happiness, and spreading the positive bits along the way.

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