The camera roll on my iPhone is currently home to 2,041 pictures. This isn’t because I have tons of friends to take photos with, nor is it because I screenshot Snapchats on a daily basis. I also don’t take a lot of selfies, if that’s what you were wondering- I participate in a movement even more self-obsessive than that: Personal branding.
A majority of the pictures on my phone look, to the untrained eye, like they could be duplicates. To a professional who markets his/herself on social media, they might notice a thumb covering the corner of a photograph, the slight blur on another, or maybe a change in lighting on the next one. You see, these are the pictures I share on two public platforms: Instagram and Twitter.
Although friends and family keep up with my life through social media, other people do as well- people I’ve never had a conversation with or even seen in real life! This is because the world I project on social media is appealing to them: I try to appear fashionable, nerdy, motivated, and super organized (which I can be, sometimes).
Who I am on social media is just as much of a character as it is authentically me. Everything I post is a true snippet of my everyday life. I just… You know, leave some parts out.
I leave out the amazing conversation I had with my best friend, because most of my followers on Twitter have no idea who he is and therefor, it won’t get many likes. I forgo taking a picture of my messy room for Instagram and instead focus on how awesome my closet looks, because my impressive collection of J. Crew will strike more of a conversation than the dog hair on my duvet. I can even make my life look social and busy by showcasing a collection of café pastries, although they’re actually all for me.
They often say that art is an imitation of life, but what happens when life becomes an imitation of art? People have been obsessed with the way they’re perceived for years, but with the rise of social media, this trend has only become more relevant.
I get it. In a lot of professions, this is just something we have to do. I’m only suggesting that we may go a bit crazy sometimes, not making the distinction between a personal brand and a personal life. Sometimes it might be taken as far as to make our brand, the public persona we create for the sake of professional opportunities, our life, which is supposed to be everything else!
What I’m asking of you is to find a balance. Remember that unlike your brand, you’re a human being. Stay humble. Don’t take down that picture on Instagram if it only got half the likes you usually receive. You can still allow your personal brand and personal life to merge… As long as it’s in a healthy way.