How To Create The Perfect Online Image

Graphic by the Author

The year is 2020, the age is digital, and the natural successor to the word “social” is “media.” Gone are the days of having to actually talk to people to get to know them. Through carefully-curated and constantly-updated profiles, we can browse encapsulations of each other’s lives from the comfort of our bedrooms. Curious about a future boss? Analyze their Facebook and extrapolate their political affiliations. Want to check in on your Grade 2 bully? With Twitter, you can rest assured that your sense of humour and social awareness far exceed theirs. 

Of course, being on social media is a two-way street. In exchange for the ability to engage with others’ profiles, you must create your own online image for the public’s evaluation. This is an incredibly important part of our generation’s culture; if your socials are lacking, seem cringy, or don’t have that, “How can they maintain that lifestyle?” factor, trust that you’ll be missing out from a huge part of the millennial experience. Thus, without further ado, here are some helpful tips to put your best virtual foot forward. 

  1. Choose a theme

The first step is to cultivate your theme: your brand, if you will. You could be the artist type: the person who posts photos of them standing in front of modern art exhibits, paints sunflowers on white Vans, and recites their Intro to Art History notes as captions. Or, you could be the business type: the person who has “entrepreneur” in their bio, advertises an app that is perpetually “in the works,” and promotes an MLM in their stories. Either way, choose one theme and stick with it. No one likes people who flip flop between categories or try to extend themselves over more than one. Pick a box and stay within its confines!

  1. Have at least one photo in which you pretend not to be aware that you’re having your photo taken (AKA, a pseudo-candid)

Regardless of the type of person you choose to emulate, the candid photo is a staple for any social media platform. It shows people that you’re put-together, but approachable; you’re quirky, but just like everyone else. Choose a nice background that compliments your OOTD (some classic combos include poolside + bathing suit, or random nature scene + formal wear). Then, show off that jawline, flex your abs, and caption the photo something along the lines of “caught slipping.” 

  1. Don’t post about your struggles

On social media, we’re basically comparing highlight reels and exchanging hate-likes. That guy from high school? He was nationally recognized for his anti-bullying initiative. That old family friend? She was accepted to Harvard, yes, Harvard, and not the Harvard of Canada. Do you really want to be the person who laments their struggles while others seemingly breeze by? Of course not! Social media is not the place for the human condition. You may feel overwhelmed by sadness, regret, shame, or a complete and utter lack of hope. Nobody needs to know. Suck it up and post a photo of you holding a trophy. Or a plaque. Or something like that.

  1. Post mother’s/father’s day posts as if you were speaking to your mother/father, despite the fact that they don’t have social media and will never see said post.

It’s important to let the world know what a great kid you are. Yes, you may have been as bratty a child as Veruca Salt, and yes, you may continue to decline mom and dad’s FaceTime calls. As long as you extol their beautiful spirits in an Instagram post, you are absolved of all filial transgressions. Pro-tip: if you’re ever worried about being too sappy, sprinkle a few spelling errors here and there or replace some instances of “your” with “ur.” This’ll be sure to convince others of your unfiltered authenticity.

  1. Include all of your leadership positions in your bio

Founder of Humble-Braggers Anonymous | President of the Anarchic Artists Association | VP Internal for McGill’s Annual Myopic Movie Night | Went on a Mission Trip Once | Beynon Elementary Lunch Monitor 2005 | Club Penguin Secret Agent. 

  1. Impress your friends and frenemies with some French (does not apply to native French speakers) 

Although you haven’t spoken a lick of French since entering Quebec, it’s imperative that you evoke a sense of superiority for supposedly integrating yourself into “French culture.” Think up some nice-sounding platitudes, swap some plainer words with ones that are slightly more poignant (see: Thesaurus.com), put that puppy through Google Translate, and there you are, instantly better than everyone who just speaks English. Vous êtes si cultured! 

  1. Be yourself, but not too much

Whenever you post a photo, write a caption, share a moment, or follow yet another Tik Tok account, remember your ultimate goal: to impress anyone and everyone at the same time. Now, imagine if your feed was an accurate portrayal of you in real life. What would it consist of? Pics of you procrastinating assignments; stills of you watching Netflix at 2 AM; live-streams of your mediocre social interactions; and compilations of you endlessly scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Buzzfeed quizzes while in lecture. This is the opposite of what you want to show the world.

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At the end of the day, your social media is the lens through which people you’ve never met (and may never meet) will judge you. By laying out a meticulously-designed blueprint for the public to follow, you can prevent them from perceiving your failings, evaluating your moral character, or, Heaven forbid, compelling you to invest time and energy into developing yourself as a human being. #ThanksButNoThanks

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