Facework: Social media at its finest

Facework, this concept refers to “using communication to maintain your own self-image and to seek approval of your face (your positive perception of who you are from others); you are also engaged in facework when you support, reinforce, or challenge someone else’s face (or self-perception).” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, Interpersonal communication: relating to others, p. 43). To put it in plain English it is basically how we make ourselves look to the public. Social media helps with this theory because we choose what we publish hourly, daily, weekly and so on. Our lives could be a complete mess; but how would the public know if all we post are happy posts?
Social media is a blessing and a curse. I say this because I do have multiple social media accounts and a blog (ie: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WordPress etc.). It is a blessing because I have been able to connect with others close and far with ease. It is a curse because in a way social media sucks us in and before we know it we define our self-worth based on the “likes” we get on a post. I remember the first photo I ever received over fifty likes on. I personally disliked the photo. I had just dyed my hair and it was in the midway point of going lighter so it was an orange color. Typically with selfies or any photo for that matter I averaged at about fifteen to twenty likes, but something about this photo made people like it. I was shocked and it was a weird rewarding feeling to be honest. Which is awful! We shouldn’t base our self-worth from the gratification of others, but in ways we do. We share every detail of our lives with the public and it creates this pressure to be perfect. Think about it; what if for a month every single post you shared went without any likes? For years your photos got over a hundred plus likes and then suddenly you went under the radar and no one paid you attention. For some that would be a harsh blow to their egos and self-esteem. There are few who wouldn’t care, but in today’s world we all want to get “likes”. We want to share the perfect photo of the perfect moment or perfect food dish to get the perfect amount of likes. Social media makes us want to make our facework perfect.

There are celebrities that are under a microscope at all times just to catch a flaw. I think that over time judgement from the public has lead people to not only change their appearances but change the way they act because they just want to be liked. There are a few vloggers I enjoy to watch and some have spoken out about the judgement that comes with putting yourself out there and how everyone has an opinion about your life.

It is ironic and brilliant that Facebook is named what it is since facework’s definition is so spot on to what Facebook’s goal is. It is the epitome of facework. When Instagram however came on the scene it changed the game up a bit. There were these new things called “filters”. It was a nice way of photo-shopping our photos without feeling guilty for it. Feeling like you look a bit pale? Just apply the “rise” or “hefe” filter and now you have a nice tan. Better yet, just not looking your best that day and you want to add an extra nudge to your photo just add any filter that makes you look bright and shiny.

When you have something embarrassing happen or you get into an argument with someone close and you have to rectify the situation then you have to “save face”. You have to save the way you want the world to see you.  Aside from online facework there are times where we have to use it in the real world. When there were mass shootings going on pretty much all over the country and the president had to address the public about what had happened he couldn’t go on stage crying, cussing and just expressing his full anger. He had to stay strong for the country and help keep the country together during the hard times. During my freshman year of high school I slipped on the bleachers in the middle of a football game and fell flat on by butt. Instead of crying, because quite frankly anyone falling on bleachers will hopefully agree with me when I say that it is not a pleasant feeling, I sat there and smiled. There are times where we can’t or don’t want the world to see how we really feel because of fear of embarrassment or judgment so instead we put on a face. As stated before, in today’s society it is a lot easier to do this because of the internet.

We care so much about what we post online that we forget to actually live our lives sometimes. There have been times where I have caught myself literally pausing what I’m doing to snap a photo to post for the world to see. Why?! No one really cares. We care though. We feel the need to maintain this image of ourselves to the world and we can’t look fragile or broken. I personally don’t have Snapchat but there are filters that literally are made to make you look “better”. We are in a world that our hashtags, filters, mentions, likes and tags are what define us. So far the facework train for social media does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

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