How fake is your online persona?
“If we were all given by magic the power to read each other’s thoughts, I suppose the first effect would be to dissolve all friendships. ~Bertrand Russell
We are all pathological liars. The average number of lies they say you’ll tell today is 4-7. Hard to get an indication of how reliable that data range is because the people they surveyed were probably lying.
Don’t start to deny.
“Bill I don’t lie.”
Yeah right…sure you don’t. We’re human beings and we’re flawed. We make mistakes, we try to cover them up with small white lies or deceits. We learn to lie as small kids and by the time we become grown adults we’re superstars. In real life, it’s easy to tell when someone is lying to you. They don’t make direct eye contact, their tone changes, and their body language collapses. As good as we become in telling lies, we also become quite good at detecting them. Nothing is worse than chatting with someone and realizing they aren’t being truthful.
Social media changes the deceit game.
Then came social media and all of these theories went out the window. One of the allures of social media is it allows you to be whoever you want to be. Want people to see how funny you are? Post funny status updates. Want to blow people away with your vast knowledge? Find links to websites and discuss them. It’s possible by using social media to be someone you’re not or more correctly, it’s possible to be someone you’d like to be.
There is lots of truth in what we say, of course. I’m not that cynical. Have you changed or massaged a Facebook status, to make it borderline untrue, for maximum effect? Have you changed a Tweet before you sent it, just to make sure it sounds better regardless of how true it was? I have, and if we’re being honest here, so have you.
I asked this question on Facebook yesterday:
To better help you answer it, here’s one of the definitions of a lie: something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture: Have you done this? Are you who you say you are… perfectly?
People are complicated.
We can’t fully describe ourselves in a profile snippet. In fact those snippets are just designed to talk about the best of us and to give people information that will make them want to engage further. It doesn’t really describe what we’re all about. Social media doesn’t either. You only show the side to people that you want them to see. That’s the ultimate lie.
Here’s my honesty.
I was bullied for several years as a kid. My solution for a while was to disengage socially and bury myself in Commodore 64 land. Eventually I had to fight my way out but the scars from that still remain to this day. It explains my deep sarcasm, which was an effective tool then, but gets me into too much trouble today. It also explains why my “In Real Life” social is terrible compared to my “Social Media” social.
Ask my wife and she’ll tell you how bad I am in face to face chatter and how poor my social skills are. I have 1 or 2 “close” friends, the “close” in quotes because I generally don’t keep those friendships up well. I don’t chit chat with them weekly nor schedule any monthly get togethers. Social media allows me to overcome my own In Real Life flaws and be the me I’ve always wanted to be. More than anything else, I’ve always wanted to belong. It’s why I do what I do now. Every day I resume my quest to be a part of something with others rather than alone. It’s the dog chasing his tail and so for 37 years, I’ve been on the outside looking in.
Don’t misinterpret my message here.
I’m all the things I say I am but there’s more to me than meets the eye; more to all of us. Social media just scratches the surface in explaining US/You/Me – it’s the dangling carrot that makes people want to know you more.
What’s your honesty? Are you your online persona perfectly? I’d love to hear about it. Why should I be the only vulnerable one around here?