“I don’t usually take this many selfies, but I’m in a long distance relationship”

This week’s reading struck a particular cord with me because like a great majority of couples today, my relationship is long distance, started primarily online, and is assisted greatly by text messages. Through this experience, my life has echoed the same issue of an honest and authentic social identity like that of which Baym accounts in New Relationships, New Selves?
I accepted my future boyfriend’s request on Facebook because we went to highschool together and while we knew each other superficially back then, we definitely didn’t know each other here ten years later. So I am very aware that the pictures, places, and events I’ve posted not only helped him get to know me but also sparked his initial attraction to me. He saw me as really similar and fun online and was interested in knowing me better because of that. Lucky for us, our relationship has provided connections that are deeper than Facebook post both emotionally and intellectually but I still honestly feel a certain amount of pressure to uphold that visual image of the cool, exciting, pretty and attractive version of myself he initial responded to.
I wouldn’t describe my Facebook or Instagram accounts as a highlight reel of my life that only depicts the most glamorous, enticing form of me but as Baym describes I often “…present one’s best look rather than my everyday appearances (103)” because well duh, I’m not that excited about the world seeing my worst or even my mediocre. But where this gets tricky is I am trying to form an actual authentic and lasting commitment that cannot and will not be aided by the constant editing or fabricating of one’s appearance. My significant other will eventually see my mediocre and my worst and I want him to see all facets of me and accept that. I want to be comfortable with being that transparent but if I’m posting my “best of the best” on Instagram, Facebook and flooding him with filtered pictures of myself, what message am I really sending? I can be emotionally giving and vulnerable but not physically in my appearance?
Baym explains that “When people meet online, it raises questions about whether they are honest about who they are, and whether they and the relationships they create can be trusted” (121). I thought I was trustworthy in this relationship because I haven’t misrepresented my personality, where I live or what I do but after reading Baym’s New Relatioships, New Selves?, I am a little weary about the image I am presenting and the consequences this may have. The selfies I send today may have to be a little different.

6 thoughts on ““I don’t usually take this many selfies, but I’m in a long distance relationship”

  1. sofreshsteph

    about that “…present one’s best look rather than my everyday appearances (103)” quote:

    I feel you. I also don’t post only the best.

    But I do go to the extreme and post the worst.

    I have a picture of me pretty much being tortured by a student dentist (hes worked on ONE TOOTH for over 10 weeks and is still not done) and for hours and hours every week I go to the dentist and…. I dunno
    I finally took a picture of my mouth when he walked away and it was crazy… theres this metal bar and bits of fake tooth stuff and plastic everywhere… and I posted it on instagram and took another picture another day and put it on facebook. It felt real to me.

    Anyway. being honest and real is da best thing in the world

    ain’t nuthin’ wrong with using a filter from time to time or an editing tool or whatever. that is also part of our real world.

    but there is also pain and suffering and bad days and we might as well embrace that

    This one woman took 365 pictures of herself crying every day….. it was around when selfies were becoming a thing… and she was like
    not everyone is happy all the time
    there is sadness too
    so I will cry for everyone who can’t or who is hiding it behind closed doors

    She exhibited her work at MoMA

    I’ll write more about her later

    But yeah

    be real, be you

    it’s nice.

    1. ShannonMartine Post author

      Yes, I agree with you 100 percent. To be real is a beautiful thing. While I have taken pictures during a tooth extraction and sent it to all my friends for a multitude of reasons I didn’t post it anywhere. Maybe I will next time I’m in the dentist chair.

  2. christineholland

    I’m in a long distance relationship too, so it was really interesting to read about your interpretation of social media’s influence on your relationship. In my case, my boyfriend is not very involved with social media; he doesn’t have an Instagram or Pinterest (two sites I’m very active on) and he hardly uses his Facebook account. I like to think that I am open and honest with him about all facets of who I am, but these websites are two instances where I express myself and he has no idea about what I post or how I represent myself online. If he saw them, would they align with his interpretation of who I am as a person? Or have I fabricated the “best version of myself,” or even a false persona, to display online?

    1. ShannonMartine Post author

      Thank you for your comment. I often ask the same questions but after writing this I asked him what he thought about my candid pictures versus my more posed shots. He said he didn’t care and was just happy to see me.

  3. natalypalma

    Thanks for sharing your perspective! I know a lot of people who have met their significant other through the internet and I think it shouldn’t be as taboo! In your case, you knew your partner beforehand (in high school) but you wouldn’t have rekindled if it wasn’t for the web! I think it’s great that we have tools these days that allow for long-distance relationships! Before we could only write letters or talk on the phone. But now things like Skype make everything much easier. And about displaying a preferred version of yourself on the internet: it’s impossible not to! But what I think people should think about is not stressing about what photo to post or overly editing it! Because the important people know who you really are.

    1. ShannonMartine Post author

      Thank you for commenting. I agree with you. I don’t think I was stressing about what to post or send but I definitely took careful consideration over these selfies. It’s unavoidable but still silly to think it would make or break our relationship.

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