The 21st Century aka “The New Gilded Age”

This article appears in our 8th Issue, which is on stands now! 

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1800: Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1835 to 1910 known by pen name Mark Twain American humorist, satirist, writer, and lecturer From photograph taken in his old age (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1800: Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1835 to 1910 known by pen name Mark Twain American humorist, satirist, writer, and lecturer From photograph taken in his old age (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

To get you up to speed, because we know you probably weren’t paying attention in history class—The Gilded Age was coined by Mark Twain to satirically characterize the state of the union. While there was general economic prosperity, there was also a serious lack of synergy between the people that made this economic prosperity possible, and those that benefitted from it. This has been referenced to describe how there were some serious underlying issues in society that were masked, or gilded, by a flimsy gold lining. Read—fake façade.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE/SPECIAL RATES APPLY) TV personality Kim Kardashian takes a selfie at the SiriusXM Studios on August 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 11: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE/SPECIAL RATES APPLY) TV personality Kim Kardashian takes a selfie at the SiriusXM Studios on August 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

For the most part, our country a little over a hundred years ago was basically like those people that only post images of their faces on online dating sites because they never really recovered from the freshman fifteen. And by fifteen we mean fifty.

This is just one tiny example of how the digital age has ushered in all sorts of new possibilities to present ourselves to the online word. With generous bandwidth, and widespread connectivity, we are able to access the internet from almost anywhere, and from a myriad of devices. With the onset on this online era, social media sites easily flourished. These sites have developed into platforms for the general populous to show how we feel connected, how we interact, and how we portray ourselves.

PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 06: Tourists take a selfie using a selfie stick in front of the Eiffel Tower on August 6, 2015 in Paris, France. Using a selfie stick has become a more and more common place among tourists but a number of high-profile attractions in Paris and other cities have started to ban them over fears of potential damage to exhibits. (Photo by Vanni Bassetti/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – AUGUST 06: Tourists take a selfie using a selfie stick in front of the Eiffel Tower on August 6, 2015 in Paris, France. Using a selfie stick has become a more and more common place among tourists but a number of high-profile attractions in Paris and other cities have started to ban them over fears of potential damage to exhibits. (Photo by Vanni Bassetti/Getty Images)

But with this excessive freedom for self-expression, room is also left for a substantial void between what is accurate and what is simply for show. The online presence of the 21st century has now in a way, become its own Gilded Age, in essence, The Gilded Age of our online presence.

We’ve all seen it—the couple that posts photos of the super fun trips they go on, and say that they “couldn’t be happier,” when you know they fought the entire time on that weekend getaway. Or the girl that only posts photos of herself going out on the town because she wants to portray herself as “the fun girl,” when you know she’d rather just stay in bed and watch Netflix. Or the guy that only posts gym selfies because he wants to embody the “tough guy” persona, when it’s really because he was teased as a kid for being chunky.

VERSAILLES, FRANCE - MAY 28: Asian tourists use a selfie-stick to take a picture of themselves in the gardens of the chateau de Versailles on May 28, 2015 in Versailles, France. France is still one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

VERSAILLES, FRANCE – MAY 28: Asian tourists use a selfie-stick to take a picture of themselves in the gardens of the chateau de Versailles on May 28, 2015 in Versailles, France. France is still one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

In partaking in these types of activities, we are inadvertently seeking external gratification. And whether we are willing to admit it or not, it plays into our self-perception, our feeling of social resilience, and by default, overall acceptance. Not enough likes? You’re ugly. Oodles of likes, you’re golden. Social love has, in a way, been replaced with real love.

At the end of the day, we only post the best of our lives on social media, which creates a realistic deficit that is often taken at full face value. We only share things that make perfection appear to be real life, when in reality, it is far from it. We say, social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so just be aware of the constructs of what others share, and be you, but be cool. Oh and go follow us on Twitter.

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