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There is an excellent article in the February 15, 2017 Wall Street Journal called A Generation Living For Likes. Here is a link to it. In it, Laura Vanderkam talks about Donna Freitas’ book, The Happiness Effect. “The real downside of Facebook, Instagram and their ilk, Ms. Freitas argues, is constant cheeriness. Young people learn that any hint of unhappiness or failure may not be posted; it can haunt their futures and damage their ‘brands.’”

In The Presentation of Self In Everyday Life, Erving Goffman used theatrical terms to describe all of us as actors with roles, costumes, and scripts.

As actors, our onstage performances are deliberately designed to influence, manipulate, or control others’ perceptions. We present different selves as brother than we do as supervisor. And we all play many roles: co-worker, friend, neighbor, parent, volunteer, geek, jock, class clown, surfer dude, Trekkie, and so on.

The modern twist on our impression management is while we still manipulate our face-to-face interactions, we are now also manipulating our face-to-Facebook interactions.

In addition to the things we do onstage – our scripted and choreographed actions –  there are the more natural things we do backstage, where we drop the masks and the roles. Facebook selves, selfies, and “reality” shows are presented as glimpses behind the scenes, looks behind the curtain, and insights into the “real” us. But instead of actually being our natural selves, we are presenting carefully controlled and manipulated selves masquerading as our natural selves. If he was still around, Goffman would have something to say about these “faux backstages.”

For a look at a classic film disconnect between what’s presented onstage and what’s going on behind the curtain, click here to watch a 45-second YouTube video.

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