What is "the real me?"
Societies all over the globe are obsessed with a digital image. Social Media sites are easily used to portray whatever you want it to. If you want to seem like an adventurous person that travels and does outdoor activities, you can create an account where all you do is post and share photos about hiking and traveling or even ones of you traveling to places you've been. Social media is where you can portray whatever image you want of yourself and people will buy into it if they don't see you very often.
I get "you look so happy" and "you seem like you're always having a good time" from friends back home all the time because I mainly post my accomplishments, my successes, and my adventures on social media. Why? Because that's how I want to be seen. I don't want to share my depressing moments or my down days with everyone. Only a few get to really see that because they interact with me on a daily basis, but life isn't always what I put online. I only show a small lens on these sites because that's how I want to be seen.
This takes me back to our discussion of masks by Erving Goffman in “Belief in the Part One Is Playing." from his book From The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. The internet is a mask, a tool we can use to present any version of ourselves to our family, friends, followers, fans, and the world. Are my social media accounts the real me? Absolutely. Are they the total accumulation of all the parts of myself? Absolutely not. Social media is just one of many selves/masks (and sometimes different sites display different selves/masks) that we share with the world.
A good example of this is of an actor who I am a big fan of following their journey. Her name is Desi Oakley, she played Jenna in the US tour of Waitress that I was fortunate to see in Seattle, WA, and she has two different Facebook accounts, one for her "real" self, and one for her "actor" self. Both of these pages are very different in 1) who can connect to them, 2) what she posts on each one, and 3) what each account reveals about her as a person.
Ms. Oakley is a broadway actor and she must market herself in a specific way that appeals to directors, fans, and other creatives in a way that continues to book her work. She presents a joyful, peace-loving, down-to-earth woman with confidence, skill, training, and passion that can do anything. The roles she shares loudly and proudly are female leads in big-box musicals, and she shares how wonderful her voice sounds and how beautifully she dances on her actor page often. These details all continue to bolster her image as a talented performer. And her personal Facebook is generally private, with the most recent post visible to the public all the way back to 2017, indicating that everything she shares on this private page is now only shared amongst friends on the social media site.
And then there are fan pages on other sites like Instagram that aren't run by the person themselves, but also portray whatever truth the fan-page-creator can get their hands on. Perhaps that's a photograph of a performance of hers or a publication of her image online somewhere that is reposted. These pages also display another "real" self/mask that could be real or could be fake. Whatever it is, it's curated to make us see what they want us to. Many of them also claim to be "the real" person, but in fact aren't.
Creating separate profiles to portray separate parts of oneself (or create/design oneself entirely) is a regular and fascinating practice of creatives. Photographers, models, fitness gurus, and dancers all do it and tailor their profiles to sometimes present their real selves in controlled doses or to fabricate a totally different person. There are many examples of this all throughout the entertainment/media industry (Steven Colbert, Taylor Swift, The Jonas Brothers), and it's neither good nor bad, but it is regular and often makes it hard to know who these celebrities truly are. The only real way to know them is in person, if that's ever a possibility.