Image crafting, as defined by Urban Dictionary, is the act of “glorifying your life by creating it to be something it is not through staged photos, posts, and statuses.” It is creating a different online life and presenting a fake version of yourself and your feelings. Huffington Post, on the other hand, defines image crafting as “the author wants to affect the way people think of her.”
Image crafting is most prevalent on Facebook only because of the huge amount of time we spend on that site. It is usually characterized by flattering photos of yourself, extremely happy posts, profound musings about life, etc.
In Filipino parlance, it’s pumi-PR.
But I don’t do that!
Sure, you do! Anybody who is on social media does that! Have you ever filtered your vacation photos and uploaded only the photos where you look good? Have you ever typed, deleted, retyped, edited your Facebook posts because you think of how your Facebook friends may think of you? Do you remember a time when you did not approve a photo tag because your smile wasn’t that nice?
We also do this IRL but in a much toned-down manner. When we are with friends, we share great things we just did but we also share the not-so-good ones. It is in social media that we are just so conscious of presenting a fabulous image of ourselves.
So, why do we do that?
It’s the “spotlight effect1.” In social psychology, the spotlight effect is defined as “seeing ourselves at center stage, thus intuitively overestimating the extent to which others’ attention is aimed at us.” In short, we think that our social media friends pay attention to what we do and how we live our lives.
Another possible reason is we don’t feel good about ourselves and social media validation (likes and comments you receive) is one way of making us feel better. Think about it. When you see that notification that a Facebook friend liked or left a comment, you feel good, right?
It’s not wrong, is it?
We can get caught up with presenting the best version of ourselves online that we forget to live authentic lives. We may be so focused on taking good photos of ourselves that we forget to enjoy every moment of our vacation, dinner with friends and family, etc. We can be so hung up on receiving social media validation that we spend all our time making photos perfect and forgetting that we have family and friends, who want to spend time with us.
Image crafting also creates high expectations of ourselves. Facebook friends, who may want to have a more intimate relationship with you, may feel that you are so perfect that they are not worthy, that they cannot keep up with your life. You may also be unconsciously forced to keep leveling up what you do. “People already saw me wearing these clothes so I need to buy new ones.”
Finally, you may be unwittingly making people unhappy with their own lives. Because your photos make you appear that you seem to be traveling all the time (“Nagtatrabaho ba sya?”), you end making your Facebook friends feel that their lives are boring, insignificant, and unenviable. In the process, you add to the statistics of people saying Facebook makes them miserable.
So, what do I do?
Just be conscious of what you do online. You have that tiny voice inside you that tells you what is your purpose in making that status. B cleverly sums it up. When you post something online, ask yourself,
“Am I trying to express or to impress?”
1. “The Self in a Social World” D.G. Myers