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

The TruthWe 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:

Facebook Question

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.

Are you ready for honesty?

It's now time to tell the whole story.

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?

About the author

bsitko
  • My favorite memory of a chit chat faux pas of yours, two in one sitting: “Yes, Stephanie, blackberries are hard to clean.” She meant real blackberries that you eat; you heard/interpreted the electronic kind. And her name was Christine…  We all laughed, including you.

    • There’s always the time that I spotted the tag wrapped around Mick’s newborn’s foot: “Oh that’s a lovely toe tag.” Dummy.

  • I do think social media has made us and our brands honest.  It comforts me when I actually meet people for the first time that I have been conversing with online when they say “Hey you are exactly as your are online”  I find that very cool.  Social media has opened a whole new world for people to express themselves in a way they could not before.  I love it.  There will always be the morons of course but I choose to not let them in.  Great post Bill

    • Despite this post I really am pretty close to how I appear online. Close. I’m not a perfect match but as I said that’s because we’re all complicated people. I get social media and am a magician with the tools but it’s the real life social piece that gets me in trouble. 

      As always Jonathan great comment and thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for the link Mark…good read from Seth as always. It’s not lying in marketing, it’s called spin. The difference between the two I think is fuzzy. 😉

      • I really like how he decided to rename the book. I think “Storytellers” is a better description.

        I like your reality show comparison. I agree that our social media personas are just an edited version of the real us. Not that we’re fake, but like a reality show the boring stuff is left out of the story.

        • Exactly. I think people leave some stuff OUT on purpose so they don’t cast themselves negatively. I think THAT’S the lie part.

          Seth is the man. Challenging world views is what he’s all about. Brilliant.

  • I am who I am Bill, online and offline. Proof of this is evident when I’m having a bad day and post a rant on my Facebook page, timeline AND G+ account! LOL – Sometimes this gets me in trouble. I hope to meet my online friends offline and when I do I want them to know the real me, for what that is worth. 

    • Most people I’m sure aren’t that far off… even me. 😉 Social media is like a reality show…say Amazing Race. You watch that show and get an understanding of what they are like based on what you see. The reality can sometimes be different. The behind the scenes if you will. That’s more of what I’m getting at. 

      I am pleased to have met you offline and look forward to doing so again. Thanks for commenting Charity.

Copyright © 2015. Created by Bill Szczytko.

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