The ways people connect have changed with the use of social media. People throughout the world use social media to network and interact with family and friends. Social media has so many aspects that most users can see that it has become the entertainment source, the key form in which some people can communicate. It is one of the applications to share your life. While social media may seem like a good place to view other people’s life and show your true self, the concept of “Modern-day Cave” shows that perception of the “reality” world through it is one of the best ways of communication.
I have experienced and witnessed people trying to live up this expectation of this online “reality” they live in or they have created. Most users on platforms are pressured to keep up with an image they are trying to pursue their audience. These users are in need of validation and acceptance, would all users need this to keep their standards of their online persona?
Perception really is fact.
There is a flaw in the idea that truth is a shared experience. Reality is like the web of a spider, it’s complex, and for the bug that gets stuck in it. It is as solid as it can be, and there’s no escape for them, but however, it is weak from the outside and can be swept away. Socrates and Plato argued that knowledge of human beings is restricted, and an individual should know they know nothing.
In this age of social media, this definition becomes clear. Social media include Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more… We were developed to tie us to the universe, to extend our perceptions. These seem to have had the opposite effect and have rendered the mind’s user in social media more absorbed in his or her own perception of reality.
Social media is comparable to Plato’s cave. The cave functions as a jail that not only physically but mentally binds its captives to their understanding and to what they believe to be a reality. Social media users are similar to the prisoners in the modern-day cave. The only distinction is that the inmates did not have any option to be in that cave while the people wanted to use social media. When a person begins using a platform such as Facebook, they are friends with the people they meet, they join the pages they like and the more they do so the more their Feed becomes a representation of their philosophies. The more they rely on their feeds, the more distorted their perception of reality is as they are only exposed to a small portion of the information that reflects most of their existing beliefs. In the Allegory in the Cave, the prisoners only lived the life inside the cave. When one of the prisoners escaped the cave, he had experienced a new perception of life. Plato explains that “Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if anyone tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender; and they would put him to death.” (Cohen/Plato 306) They have never stepped foot outside therefore, they never experienced the world that was different from the cave’s society.
A person who supports a certain individual who is bound to be friends with people who share similar beliefs, as well as what appears on their page will be comments and posts that encourage that individual. When the consumer receives information that is contrary to their values, or that they don’t like, they can simply remove the post from their feed. It may become aggressive to get rid of this self-delusion so that they might focus about picking a fight, or even block the person. Most posts that are online are gang-related, violence-related, and even to start contveersty. In the article “Youth and Social Media,” Vivek mentions that “The real-life street violence has transformed into cyber-crime and cyberbullying. Youngsters, who have been victimized earlier, are also actively participating in social media violence.” This means the violence that you see in the streets can be shown in social media platforms.
The shadows are formed in Plato’s tale as a product of puppets and a flame, both of which are unfamiliar to the prisoners, and they form the shadows that often show up to the prisoners enough to identify them. The prisoners are only introduced to the perception aspects of them, where they can only see the shadows but not what causes the shadows. The shadows represent both the comfort of one’s own values and the limitations of life. The figures are true to the prisoners they have seen nothing but these figures throughout their lives. The irony is that the shadows are a pure illusion and the possible explanation behind their false reality is their limited knowledge. The more darkness the prisoners see, the more their biases are strengthened and distorted truth is proven to them. The comfort in thinking they’re going to see the shadows holds them in this realm of their own perception, instead of experiencing an uncertain reality that carries risks.
In the example of social media, the shadows will reflect the users who have false beliefs that they want to see in their feeds. In the podcast “Post, Shoot,” Hanna Rosin knows the culture of social media but feels that posts on platforms may have been tweaked in a way to manipulate people’s perceptions on what is real and what is fake. She comments “If it could happen even in a place like Wilmington where relationships are so alive and real, then it means that we all have to be alert, watch for when we are editing out some details in other people’s image to believe what we want to believe. At a time when image and real can blur so easily, it takes a certain vigilance to see things clearly.” (Rosin 15) This reflects how this social media promotes lies and half-truths in the followers ‘ assumptions on how they see themselves and perceive the truth of what’s around them.
To see beyond the perceived reality, an individual should be humble in order to accept the philosophy of Socrates and Plato’s analogy and realize the understanding of people is restricted only to what they experience. Plato’s cave allegory presents a different way of escaping from life and that is to be courageous and able to challenge, discover, and question yourself of what is the real and the fake. All of this can be related to the modern-day use of social media in that an individual can doubt what they see, and search for what is counter to their views and beliefs.