There is always more than meets the eye

What you post on digital media is what you become defined as. People plan and perfect what they post in order to manipulate their perception. We only post what we want people to see. However, nothing in the digital media is ever truly private so sometimes things fall between the cracks, despite the privacy settings we choose to use. So, that private Facebook photo from last Friday night you only shared with your friends might end up being seen by your employer, even though you selected certain privacy settings — and that photo was probably the complete opposite of the perception you were trying to convey to your employer on LinkedIn. Chapter one of It’s Complicated by dana boyd begins with a story explaining how our identities can be perceived differently online. A student from a bad area in Los Angeles wrote an extraordinary college essay for an Ivy League university about how he wanted to escape the gangs in his community and focus on his education. The admissions officers loved it, but decided to search him on the web in order to learn more about him. They came across his MySpace page, covered in gang symbolism and relations, and reached out to dana boyd for some answers.

They were curious as to why a student would lie about wanting to escape gangs to attend an esteemed university when his entire MySpace profile proved that he was still gang-involved. I was thinking the same thing. I thought about how dumb it was for him to post that kind of stuff when everyone knows that nothing on social media is ever private anymore. The first thing people tell you when you apply for a job or school is to not post anything provocative or stupid. It’s the basics! Then, as I read dana boyd’s reply and thoughts, my entire opinion changed and my mind was opened up to a whole new point of view. boyd replied with, “Perhaps this young man is simply including gang signals on his MySpace profile as a survival technique” (boyd, 29). I suddenly had a realization. This student was still manipulating his posts based on how he wanted to be perceived, but he was doing it to protect himself in order to avoid becoming a gang target. I have never had to use social media as a defense or survival mechanism, and wasn’t aware of those costs. This passage was eye-opening for me because I realized that what people post, even when they do it strategically, never tells their whole story. The digital media represents one side of things, and makes it difficult for us to see past it. I found this video on YouTube and I think it exemplifies how much thought people truly put into their social media posts in order to be perceived a certain way. While it is supposed to be funny and not very meaningful, it still shows how only half of the story is shown online. When you look at someone’s profile online, you don’t see how they rearranged their desk for an artistic photo or how they created their post-workout photo even when they didn’t go to the gym. The digital media represents one side of things, and makes it difficult for us to see past that side. I think this is something extremely important to remember as we continue to use the digital media personally, academically, and professionally. There is always more than meets the eye.


Author: Molly O'Neill

I am an Organizational and Community Leadership major and a Writing minor at the University of Delaware. I am also a dedicated member of the DE Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi and the UD Equestrian Team.

6 thoughts on “There is always more than meets the eye”

  1. I agree with you about people taking what they post on social media very seriously. Our pages or profiles on different networks have almost come to define us in a way. I know that from personal experience, I have tagged and untagged myself in a number of pictures that I thought I didn’t look good in or that I didn’t want an employer to see for fear they might imply something negative about me from the context of the photo. Moreover, the fact that our posts and photos are never actually 100% deleted from the internet is a scary thought, yet I still find myself posting these social networks anyway.


  2. Interestingly, I think some of the people in our generation still have pre-social media mindsets about privacy. I remember before social media was big I would communicate to my friends in text messages, or secret notes passed in class, or instant messaging. The purpose of the conversation was for the group of friends to communicate in our own way. Now, those in-group conversations are held on facebook walls where other people might see them, and they’re there forever.


  3. Molly, Hey, what’s wrong with posting pictures of your dog to Facebook?! Am I some sort of criminal? Okay, seriously, you’ve Carr, boyd, this video. How do you want to connect the dots (or draw the batttle-lines) between them? ~Joe


    1. If you’re some sort of criminal for posting pictures of your dog to Facebook, so am I! I just thought the video was a funny way to show how much people think about and plan their social media posts, and how other people perceive those posts. Sometimes there is more than meets the eye, and we have to keep that in mind. I think that Carr and boyd take different approaches to this topic. So far, I have enjoyed reading about boyd’s perspective more because she is better at analyzing both the positives and negatives of how social media affects us, while Carr took more of a negative perspective. If they were both watching this video, I think boyd would analyze why people put so much thought into what they post, and Carr would just attribute that to the remapping or rewiring of our brains.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That story is very intriguing, it goes to show people are a little more clever than we think at times, if you know what is a popular public issue you can frame your views accordingly knowing that audience, even if untruthful. It’s not honest, but its the world we live in.


  5. I really enjoy how you touch on the fact that even though we are not always trying to, what we post conveys who we are. Some try more than others and it all depends on how they do it. The topic of tagged and untagged photos is a big topic that can make or break how we want others to see ourselves!


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