Ever wonder why people put ‘public figure’ in their Instagram bios if they’re not really public figures? Narcissism, some might say. But there may be a different underlying truth in any profile on social media. Just being on there is an indication that you seek a more public life, even for the most private of us Instagram users, that may have nothing to do with how much you like yourself.
Clearly, people are not only willing to sacrifice some of their privacy for social media, but seem to want a life with almost no privacy at all. Of all social media, Instagram seems to inspire this fascination the most. Its features show how much this platform mirrors the world of the celebrity. Users can reach large audiences of Followers and Like Fans, just like celebrities. Instagram Stories let people be seen by others and the ability to ask people questions through these stories has an interview-like quality to it. The presence on the gram of actual celebrities who sometimes interact with people can also make it feel as if one is rubbing elbows with fellow public figures. And filters make it possible to have perfect selfies to suggest that one is just about free of any ‘flaws’ just like celebrities.
The world of the celebrity is mostly about image; about how they want things to appear rather than how they really are, about perfection over truth, surface over depth. This raises the question: how public are these public figures? Is social media now a place where people can craft who they wish to be, rather than show who they truly are? Are we blurring the line between real and fake? This ability for everyone to be known in some way and in the way they wish to be known, to get their fifteen minutes of fame and to feel special is perhaps the real attraction of sites like Instagram.
We are not suggesting that this to every single person using Instagram. Many people manage to stay authentic to the public. One of the nice things about having privacy, at least some of the time, is that it can inspire in us true intimacy and familiarity with ourselves and help some of us stay true to who we are and figure out who we really want to be. And we really don’t need social media for that.