You share on social media what you want people to see. That ends up being something that only shows the enviable sides of your life, blogger Donatella Gasparro admits. ‘That's the social media bias.'
© Sven Menschel
I use Facebook and Instagram. Not a lot, but quite a bit. And more or less consistently. I’ve always found social media a great way for networking, sharing experiences, letting people know about (a selection of) things that I do. This has always proven to be a good way to find new artistic collaborations, start exciting projects, or connect with like-minded people in fields I am interested in. Also, living away from my Country, from my family and from many friends, it’s a fast way to keep up to date a lot of people at the same time.
Are you even working?
Of course, my thesis trip to Brazil ended up on my social media too. Amazing plants, forest patches, huge colourful flowers, hikes and (predominantly) waterfalls have gained an Instagram post and some likes. At some point, friends started asking me: ‘Are you studying agro-forestry systems or the water dynamics of waterfalls?’ Or, more often: ‘Are you even working on your thesis or are you on holiday?’
Well, the thing is: I did not take pictures of my hundreds of excel sheets filled with numbers, or of the hours spent in front of a laptop in an office. Nor photos of my innumerable mosquito bites (that are still itching after ten days -- but that’s another story). Or of the sunburn I got the first day I walked in the farm’s fields, underestimating the sun in the tropics as a perfect European blondie relying too much on her Mediterranean DNA. Just not to mention the hours of self-brainstorming to make sense out of my thesis while drawing a ton of messy mind maps.
It’s the social media bias, I guess: you share what you want people to see. Unconsciously, that ends up being something that only shows the enviable sides of your life. Or simply just some beautiful scenes worth a pic.
A double-edged sword
One thing I understood: social media are powerful. A power that can be used for many different purposes. Including spreading good ideas, sustainability inspiration, healthy lifestyle tips, environmental awareness and a lot more. They’re definitely a tool that could play a role in bridging the communication gap between scientific communities and the rest of the world. But this is a double-edged sword… In any case, I firmly believe in inspiration as the main driver for transitions and important changes. And social media can be great inspiration catalysts.
Nonetheless, I confirm: waterfalls are amazing. I love waterfalls so much.