Project #2

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    Adham Bakr

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>According to a study done by The American Academy of Facial Plastic and</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Reconstructive Surgery, 64% of facial plastic surgeon members saw an increase in cosmetic</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>surgery or injectable treatments in patients under 30 due to social media and selfies. Although</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>seen to be a feminine issue, social media has made an impact on both men and women in regards to self-perception. Procedures like rhinoplasties (both men and women), hair implants (mostly men), eyelid facelifts (men and women), neck liposuction (men), chin implants (men), reduction of wrinkles (men and women), scars due to acne (men) have all increased. The proliferation of smartphones equipped with cameras and social media favoring the sharing of photos and therefore particularly focused on appearance has distorted self-perception for people. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Video call applications like Skype and FaceTime increase awareness of one’s features which can be cause for insecurity for things like size of cheeks, folds in the neck, wrinkles, etc. Normal real-life interaction doesn’t come with this floating mirror, so there is much less attention to the self when communicating. More than ever, we are more inclined to analyze our own looks. Published on PsychCentral, Kelsey Sunstrum writes, “</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The desire to be seen positively has taught us to silence our troubles and we now have no idea how to express inner turmoil without feeling like we’re accepting social defeat.” The retouched images we see everywhere provide us a conception of beauty without defects, an incomparable perfection that none of us can amount to realistically. This, along with the convenience of video calling, gives us another means in which we question our attractiveness and become apprehensive about our own physical appeal. Makeup, while often an artistic expression, has also been a way to mask one’s natural self, and in less mild cases plastic surgery is becoming the norm. A 2009 study conducted by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery shows that the number of operations in plastic surgery increased by 304% between 1997 and 2008. These technologies </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>have a twofold consequence: they invent an image of idealized beauty and spread it everywhere, pushing all of us to modify our image in favor of this unattainable look. Many research tends to show that we must now be beautiful in order to succeed in society. The possibilities offered by new technologies in terms of image processing and image diffusion accentuate even more the need to be beautiful and to be qualified by the tyranny of perfection and the dictatorship of appearance. The obsession with beauty also highlights an aspect of our personality that has been exacerbated by the use of these social media. Video calling applications are a branch of this narcissism. Social networks also bring out aspects of our character that we would never dare to show in public “real” life.  Thus this profusion of new technologies, despite video calling that is supposed to capture reality, leads to the development of behaviors like exhibitionism and voyeurism. As there are greater needs to socialize online, the plastic surgery upsurge in which we live in is likely to increase even more. Personal branding, also called e-reputation or digital identity, is also another motivation to look like the way you do online in live video. The issue is that cameras are not fully accurate in capturing how we look. Some say selfies can enlarge one’s nose 7 times, so it seems it is no coincidence there is a rise in rhinoplasties. People are relying on their digital appearance to dictate their real appearance. Even mirrors are limited in revealing to us how another sees us. When we are constantly forced to look at ourselves, we are more prone to obsessive self-analysis which can certainly distort self-image. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>    </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Photo-editing applications make it easy to perfect one’s appearance, like erase pimples, whiten teeth, etc. The limitless exposure of what is beautiful and what is not, forces us to accept new standards established by society and try, at all costs, quite literally considering the price for cosmetic procedures, to master the image people refer to. Dan Stuart writes in Solstice, “</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Social media addiction isn’t officially classified as an addiction, but it’s a compulsive need to use social media–even if it’s in a dangerous situation, like driving”. Beyond our appearance, it can be our very identity that we change daily, sometimes unconsciously, based on the constantly evolving nature of social media and the trends it propagates. According to the author of a survey “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behavior” published in the Personality and Individual Differences Review, Facebook allows people with narcissistic tendencies to use the site to satisfy their need for recognition and become the center of attention.” With things like Photoshop and Facetune, people have become addicted to an image of themselves that does not exist, and the endorphins they get from likes and comments on social media are validating a form of themselves that does not correspond to reality, which is a complete distortion of how someone sees themselves. Because of this, if one looks in the mirror they will become deeply bothered by their true self since they have gotten used to a caricature they created. Getting frustrated at not being able to match the artificial and one dimensional person you’ve made online will make you at the least confused of who you really are. Being in control of your own image allows you to choose whether or not to reveal intimate parts of yourself, but photo-editing applications have given a new meaning to this agency. When the attention is all on looks, and we can now be looked at any time, we can perform the most banal gestures and arouse curiosity from the nothingness of daily existence, even at times provoking suspense at how one can be so effortlessly perfect. This will, eventually, destroy self-confidence in the real world, and make real life experiences seem uninteresting if they cannot be documented and shared. Job application also making its way to be solely online-based enforces personal branding. People want to make a good impression on an audience of employers, thereby enhancing the intention to favorably highlight one’s positive attributes to differentiate from others. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>    </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Surgeons advertise their procedures on social media and glamorize results. Dr. Miami is a well-known name when it comes to this. He posts before and after images of his patients on his Snapchat and Instagram and has a huge following. </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>New tools like Photoshop, which artificially retouch any type of image, are used to edit pictures for social media, identity photos on a CV, and of course advertisements broadcasted nationally and internationally. In this world of sensationalized cosmetic surgery, it is sometimes difficult to discern what is real or what is not. This confusion between real and dream-like appearance has important social consequences like the increase of insecurities in women and men, insecurities linked to the obsession of perfection imposed by these new technologies, and loss of trust in others, for lack of being able to detect what is real and what isn’t.</span> <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Thus, because of surgeons taking advantage of an image-centered society, people who cannot afford such procedures will use technologies like photo editing apps. We try to transform ourselves, or transform </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>others, sometimes unwillingly, to meet this tyrannical demand for perfection. Victoria Valenzuela quotes </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Petya Eckler</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> from the Glasgow University of Strathclyde who told </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>BBC</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> that “spending time on sites such as Facebook shows a connection </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>to poor body image, mainly due to the attention to physical attributes and the fact that our feeds are filled with people we know.” Facebook is the most well-known site within the realm of social media, Twitter is famous for its instantaneity, Instagram for its significance in terms of image diffusion, and dating sites, the very universe of appearance-based interaction. With the likes of doctors promoting unhealthy mechanisms, we see that anti-social behavior can be a consequence of social media usage. If someone cannot manufacture the “them” they want to be in real life, they will be fixated on passing as perfect online. Whether as subjects for plastic surgery or not, they will sacrifice their actual social life for the one on their phone. While privacy used to be a source of intrigue, it is now what takes you to the bottom of the social ladder. Surgeons’ common exaltation is to create innumerable doubles of people. Personal branding coaches encourage candidates to present themselves in an attractive way to “stand out”. However, there is a paradox with this and the popularity of cosmetic procedure. Ultimately, the same techniques of staging and self-presentation are given to the employer. Everyone looks the same. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>    </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Social media influencers, victim to the same body dysmorphia, perpetuate the desire for unattainable perfection. Exuberant beauty has become an obsession across all media, but specifically on social media is where people can actually make a living from having nice aesthetics. Many brands are willing to sponsor “Instagram models”. Swayed by the cash flow, these influencers have sacrificed genuine role modelling in order to maintain social status, which feeds their pockets. As said brilliantly by Sunstrum once again, “</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>We have a general persona we construct and put out to the cyber universe based on the person we want to be, and more important, based on the person we want to be seen as.</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>” Influencers artificially correct their wrinkles, exaggerate curves and muscles, even out skin tone. Young impressionable people might be convinced some of these influencers have used natural means to look the way they do, and will start to get down on themselves for having flaws. It is ironic because these influencers themselves are trapped in their own ways of distorting self-perception, but have made it their career to do so, making it not so simple to walk away from  and be loyal to the person they really are. The lower a user’s self-esteem, the more numerous self-promotion and anti-social behaviors will arise. So the influencers people see as confident and social people, may be the exact opposite. The problem is that these people put up a façade and like a contagious disease, don’t mind if they spread the plague. The more social media platforms there is to express this sort of voyeurism, the less the voyeur feels isolated and ashamed. Thus the exhibitionist has nothing to do with those who look at him, and the voyeur does not care about the feelings of his “prey”. Internet blogs, Youtube, and other social networks are perfect examples of the hijacking of virtual presence for voyeuristic or exhibitionist purposes because there is a financial end to the means. Pixel versions of themselves and the “points” it brings satisfies their personal monetary desires, helps out a business trying to appeal to the people the paid person has influence over, and regular users are put at risk of constant self-doubt. </span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>    </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>People are dependent on social networks because all the components of our lives are now linked to these sites, and it has taken a toll on real world self-perception. Countless profiles showcase perfect bodies, advanced tips to lose weight, sport regimes. New technologies, such as the smartphone and other portable devices with social media accessibility, contribute strongly to this obsession since they allow people to modify images, and widely distribute these edited photos to the general public. In this world where exposure of beauty is essential to one’s profile, the photograph is now the fundamental medium to display that, and this has done much to distort how people view themselves in reality. In real personal life, the dominant social pattern is interpersonal communication (1 transmitter, 1 receiver), whereas social media imposes mass communication (1 transmitter, several receivers). This scheme strongly flatters narcissism, and gives the illusion that users are “mini celebrities” because they communicate personal information to a wide audience and assume that their friends intensely follow their “news” (holiday pictures, posts about activities and hobbies). The transition from interpersonal communication to mass communication thus naturally engenders a “theatricalization” of private life– and this distorts the beginning of everything. </span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Bibliography</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“A Craving for ‘Likes’: Is It a Social Media Addiction?” </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Solstice RTC</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, 2 Nov. 2017</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Almost Half of Americans Approve of Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Regardless of Income.”</span>

    <i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)</span></i>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Carpenter, Christopher J. “Self-Promotional and Anti-Social Behavior on Facebook Survey.” </span><i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>PsycTESTS Dataset</span></i><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, 2012</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“For Patients – AAFPRS.” Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery | Alexandria, VA</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“Home.” Craving Social Media, 29 Dec. 2016</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>This article shares the compelling nature of social media to self-disclose information about</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>ourselves and our best moments over sites like Facebook and Instagram. This habits festers</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>anxiety over what others will think. It cites the journal article, “What About Men? Social</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Comparison and the Effects of Media Images on Body and Self Esteem” by Hobza, Peugh,</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Walker and Yakushko when mentioning that women and men alike are increasingly feeling</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>pressure to conform to standards set by others.</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“How Social Media Affects Our Self-Perception.” World of Psychology, 13 Mar. 2014</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>This article gives a personal account of how social media affects our self-perception. It reveals</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>the depression-inducing consequence of Instagram. It mentions how the pressure of wearing the</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>right outfit in the right setting with the right people becomes overwhelming. Supporting my</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>thesis, it states that social media has us conditioned to project only our best, albeit unrealistic,</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>selves as a modern way of virtually keeping up with one another.</span>


    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>“How Social Media Impacts Self Perception.” Her Campus</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>This article points out how smartphones and social media make possible many convenient forms</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>of communication. However, Dr. Mauricio Delgado, director of the Lab for Social Affective</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers-Newark, provides insight on the social</span>

    <span style=”font-weight: 400;”>reinforcement function of these applications, which can be rather negative.</span>


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