“Just follow me on Facebook, and you will see what a great life I will be leading in Europe once I cross the Mediterranean.” These may not be the exact words of aspiring (illegal) immigrants to Europe who are desperate to find a new life there. It still remains a very treacherous and dangerous proposition dependent on shady transporters and promises of a new life on another continent. But this is the age of Facebook. “Just take a look at my Facebook page and you will see all the glories of my new found freedom, or at least my best ‘face’ on how how I am living now.” The Italian government seemed to be the most generous in this respect, providing schooling and temporary papers for foreign minors. And once they reach the age of 18, they can apply for permanent residency.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that simply all the time. Despatate to start repaying their parents’ loans, many immigrants seek to start working immediately when they arrive, which hurts their chances of getting schooling or official papers. At the same time, their Facebook persona will very often portray a different life style on foreign soil, when they may actually be working for pitiful wages in restaurants or fruit markets, at best. You won’t be seeing these images on Facebook. You can indeed create an alternative reality from the one you are actually living.
So what’s the problem with that? Maybe thes young immigrants are just being creative in using all the powerful tools available on social media. But just as old Polonius (remember him?) said to young Hamlet: “To thine own self, be true.” It just might be getting harder for everyone to do that in the age of Facebook, whatever your circumstances may be.