As a young entrepreneur, sometimes it can be hard not to brag about your work. With so many exciting ventures occurring, who doesn’t want to share them with friends? However, there’s a fine line to walk between being proud of your accomplishments and being vain, especially in today’s society. Critics call the 20 and 30-somethings of today the “me” generation, and there is truth in those words: America breeds young people who believe they can achieve anything. Though the United States is sorely lagging behind in math and science scores, our nation’s children are first in confidence in the world. After being told so many times as a child by educators, family members, and the media that we are all special and our dreams can come true, one wonders if there is a disconnect between reality and our view of ourselves.
The internet certainly allows one to maintain this disconnect and even expand it. It is a reality apart from real, tangible reality, and so ego and narcissism have the potential to run rampant, and often do. It is so easy to create an online identity. Starting with the profile picture you choose, you have the power to shape others’ perspective of yourself exponentially more so than in real life. You can champion your successes, ignore your failures, and completely overlook your shortcomings. Facebook status updates and tweets can be comprised of nothing but brief sentences screaming “look at me!” With each new like, comment, and re-tweet vanity only has the potential to grow. It feels so good to have your friends’ approval, and Facebook, Twitter, and other social media services make that more tangible and public than ever.
However, social media is not about self-promotion, it is centered on connection, and being self-centered will only make someone an online island, killing real and virtual friendships. Twitter experts advise users to write 10-15 tweets promoting others’ causes, talking with other users, or discussing personal happenings for every one tweet promoting a personal cause. Shameless self-promotion and nothing else will get a user labeled as a spammer, a most undesirable (and unshakeable) tag.
Social media can never be taken as a separate entity from oneself. Rather, it is an extension. Your real-life personality is essential to your professional life; how else do you gain enough trust to convince potential investors your idea is worth their time and money? Similarly, your online profiles and accounts cannot be taken as separate entities. How you act online will inform others’ opinions of who you are as a person. Think hard about what your Facebook statuses say about you: are your true colors showing? How much vanity and self-focus is showing through? What would someone who did not know you personally think if all they knew about you was what you wrote online? Very often this scenario is a reality: potential employers, business partners, and investors will research your online presence and what they find will inform their opinion of you.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of your successes and sharing them with the people you care about, who will care about them in turn. It’s only human. And there is nothing wrong with doing so online, in an extremely public setting. But it is all too easy to become engulfed in oneself and one’s supposed greatness, in real life but even more so online. We are considered the “me” generation, and I’m fine with that tag. I’m fine with believing in myself and being confident in my abilities. But I certainly do not want to come off as a narcissist who puts myself ahead of others, especially to people I have never even met before.
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