Are we all spin doctors now?

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social_media-find-meWhilst the personal branding industry has been around for some time now, it has really taken off as the web has grown.  With several major social networks vying for our attention, coupled with blogs and other such things, there are numerous ways that we can ensure the image of us online is a positive one.

Suffice to say of course, the bulk of stories on this issue over the past few years have involved people screwing this up and doing all manner of seemingly ridiculous things online that have cost them their jobs.

Whilst these kind of stories suggest there are still many out there that have little appreciation for the branding issues surrounding our web use, a new study suggests that most web users are far from ignorant of such issues.

The study, written by Victoria Mappleback and published by Royal Holloway university, goes as far as to say that we are increasingly becoming our own spin doctors, using social networks to cast ourselves in as positive a hue as possible.

“How do we curate our lives online? How honest are we about our lives on social media? Facebook profiles and postings often seem relentlessly upbeat. We create an avatar of our lives, an avatar who is slimmer, has more friends, a better love life and a better job than we do,” she says.

“We have become our own spin doctors and constantly want people to find out what is going on in our lives, from the incredibly mundane to personal decisions and choices that would have otherwise been private.”

Her findings came after she began exploring how the constant spotlight of social media was influencing what we shared online, and how we portray ourselves.

“There is only a ‘like’ button on Facebook, there is no place to describe our deficiencies, only space to paint a rather superficial and idealised portrait of our digital lives,” she says.

She suggests it creates a rather superficial facade to our lives, where only positive things are shared, with interactions via Facebook taking the place of deeper relationships conducted offline.

All of which, whilst no doubt interesting, isn’t really that new is it?  I suspect we have tried to create a positive image of ourselves forever, and that our social networking habits are simply making these behaviours more visible and pronounced, thus placing the spotlight on both the best and worst of human behaviour.

6 thoughts on “Are we all spin doctors now?

  1. To an extent I suspect we've always been so. Everyone wants to be perceived in the best light don't they? I guess with the web as it is now, it's just a bit more visible than it has been.

  2. I don't know. I mean obviously we want to see ourselves, and for others to see us, in a positive light, but I can't help feel that social media has made our narcissistic tendencies worse.

  3. Interesting topic here, but like Paul and Nick mention, nothing new under the sun. I mean, there is enough negative stuff happening in our everyday lives that we certainly don't want to bring our friends and relatives down some more with reality checks, so I guess it makes sense to share happy news, great vacation pics or humorous videos. We can always use a good laugh, right?
    Nevertheless, you are right (and the findings of the study point in that direction): it does seem to paint an unrealistic view of our lives. But then again, that ain't a bad thing, now is it?
    ;-)
    Cheers,

  4. I agree with what Frederic says. You don't want to depress people with all the challenges that you're facing. On the other hand sharing the good times is also a bit egotistical and self-serving IMHO. I prefer to share useful info even on social media posts. But I'm very intrigued by your thoughts towards the end of your post. Social media is now replacing relationships offline. That to me is the danger of us as a human species. We're becoming more of a virtual society and human interactions are taking a back-seat. They're real and also harder to keep up with so we take the easy route, shutting on and off anytime we want to. Thought provoking post!

    • Interesting point Gazalla. As someone that wants to help encourage collaboration inside and outside of organizations, it's precisely the troubles people are having that I want them sharing. Doing that seems a key step to getting the help required to overcome them. Admitting that weakness however is often hard to do. Maybe that's a topic for another post :)

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