What do your social media posts say about you?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Posting to social media is a daily event for most people, and what they choose to post creates a certain image for their followers.

However, the desire to appear happy, popular and the envy of others often leads to a false sense of reality.

“I think in the absence of positivity and affirmation of life experiences, people will construct a narrative and they’ll put it out there for public consumption for people to validate it,” said Manya Whitaker, Associate Professor of Education at Colorado College. “And in really extreme cases you start to believe the narrative you’ve constructed.”

Users of Facebook, Instagram and other social networks often get caught up in their profile image because they see it as evidence of their life successes, even if it didn’t really happen that way.

“When people are posting the really happy things it’s usually because they want affirmation,” said Whitaker.

On the opposite end, when a user posts negative subjects, they are usually wanting people to help them cope by replying with an uplifting response.

According to Whitaker, it’s important to remember that social media is rarely social reality and people need to know the difference.

“You’re writing in sound bites,” said Helena Thatcher, a junior at Colorado College. “And those can be interpreted in so many different ways.”

Posters tend to feed off other people’s responses and “likes,” and they constantly want more affirmation.

But, the more a person creates a profile very different from what is going on in their real world, the more dangerous it becomes when the conversation goes offline and face-to-face.

“When you start meeting people in real life, you expect one thing and you get something else,” says Whitaker. “You react (negatively), and that’s what we see in romantic relationships and in middle school girls.”

Psychologists say it’s important to remember posts on social media are just slight views into who we are, and not a synopsis of a total person.

They suggest taking breaks from being online and focusing on what really matters – it’s likely not your social profile.

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