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The Imposters Among Us

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You scroll through your Twitter timeline and it's full of Among Us memes and tweets of your mutuals lamenting over forced isolation and missing group activities like drinking in bars and attending concerts. You invite your brother to play on the North America server as you procrastinate from the work that's been piling on the both of you.

As you wait for more players, you talk about your mom's health, getting life insurance, and everything else that you should be doing instead of playing a game with alien imposters. As the game starts and both of you grow quiet, your brother sneaks up behind your character and kills you. Well played. You demand another game to avenge yourself.

Social media, especially during a global pandemic, has served as a crutch for people to feel included and relevant even as they stay isolatedly stuck at home for months. It is its own community as you get to interact with and validate strangers with new tattoos or friends of friends who have just learned to bake.

Family members who you have not seen in decades will wish you a happy birthday and with the rise of Facebook shi(r)tposting groups, people are even allowed to be as petty and cruel as they want to hundreds of opinionated people who often resort to logical fallacies to drive their point across.

Whether it's politics and trans rights or that John Mulaney Mcdonald's meme and if Angelica Schyler was really in love with Hamilton or not, there is no topic too obscure that no one will join in the discourse surrounding it. Long gone are the easygoing posting for the sake of posting culture like the "jwu" and "feeling happy" tweets and posts that were popular in the 2010s.

Now, it's all about making an impression and getting other people to interact with your seemingly random thoughts. You post a Spotify playlist you lovingly curated to music recs without context group in the hopes of connecting with someone and making a friend, if not a romantic partner. You play a Twitter game in hopes of the person you like taking the bait so that they initiate a conversation with you.

Every day decisions are being shaped by the most popular options being marketed, from your breakfast choices to which artists you put on repeat while studying. For example, seeing Hamilton become the big, trending sensation that it is now may have motivated many people around the world to download a VPN to watch it on Disney Plus as it is yet to be available to many Asian and African countries. Reading and watching countless positive reviews of Notion as a productivity tracker and online organizer has strongly compelled many students to make a free account.

However, there are also negative repercussions in people who patronize products and beliefs based solely on whether they're trendy. This is manifested in people who get sicker after trying out fad diets like keto and paleo without consulting a nutritionist or parents stuck with the bill of their children's online shopping spree of their favorite Youtuber's merch.

Jobs like social media manager, online streamer, and market research data miner certainly did not exist 10 years ago and yet they're among the high-paying jobs in today's market. As media becomes more and more accessible, anyone can make a free account and create content that generates engagements through views, shares, and comments. No longer do big media corporations monopolize what issues are given the spotlight and what narratives are presented to the public.

People can now enjoy the newfound power of a shared public opinion that can overcome multinational institutions as in the example of the worldwide boycott of the live-action remake of Mulan that started with just a couple of tweets exposing the lead actress and canceling her for her problematic worldviews.

Of course, this power does not come without faults. As cancel culture becomes more prevalent, people are more apt to revoke this newfound freedom themselves as they stick to producing content that is generally well-accepted and is proven to build positive engagements.

People stick with sharing the same thoughts they've seen make rounds on the app before even if they hide it under the guise of an unpopular opinion or why aren't people talking about XYZ post.

People delete their own tweets and posts if they "flop" or don't get as much engagement as they thought it would get. In an effort to be part of the same conversation, while fearing getting called out and blasted on social media, a lot of people resort to just reposting and retweeting other people's work without adding anything to the mix.

One might even say that these people are imposters in hiding who fake their way into doing odd tasks that are currently trending just to feel part of a group...and shouldn't they protect themselves from being tracked and hacked while widening their horizons as all good imposters do?

While the media has given us regular folk a platform to amplify our voices, our foes have evolved from big conglomerates threatening us with media blackouts to a more psychological adversary of needing validation from strangers on the internet. We may not necessarily create content with the purpose of advertising brands and products out there to make a profit but surely tweaking our tweets to seem more likable to get likes, comments and other engagements fall somewhere in the same category.

With various imposters among us, the line between consuming and creating content for art's sake and supporting content for ego-boosts and affirmations delineate. But is being an imposter necessarily a bad thing? I just made several strained Among Us references to keep you reading, so who's to say.

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