We’ve all been there, scrolling through Facebook, envious that our friends are all out having fun. When feeds are full of beautiful views, gorgeous people in sunny locations, and delicious meals, it’s easy to believe that everyone is having a better time than we are.
But Facebook shouldn’t be the holy grail to figure out whether you’re a loser or not.
Why? The research has shown that most of us tell white lies or embellish stories on a regular basis. What’s most interesting here? When people know others lie on Facebook, they are more likely to lie there themselves!
I mean, let’s be honest: Why would anyone project a negative image of themselves when it’s so easy to filter what we do to show the best of the best only?
According to Dunbar’s number, the average person can maintain around 50 close friends and 150 stable relationships. But with the average Facebook user collecting 200+ “friends,” that’s an excess of people who are just there for us to impress.
So what do we lie about and, more importantly, why do we tell these porkies?
1) Where We Are
You believe it’s hard to hide location thanks to Facebook’s advanced settings, don’t you? But still, it’s the most common lie splashed across this social media channel.
Back in 2013, The Telegraph published the results of Pencourage survey claiming that women “mostly pretended to be out on the town, when in fact they are home alone and embellished about an exotic holiday or their job.”
But women aren’t alone in this lie. In 2017, New York Post revealed the statistics from Learnvest. It says that 56% of Millennials lie on social media “to make it look like they were staying, eating or visiting somewhere more expensive than they were.” Reason? They’re trying to “create jealousy and make themselves appear more desirable.”
2) What we do on holiday
Holidays are time for us to unwind and relax. But they’re also the perfect opportunity to post picture after picture of food, drinks, and stunning views.
In reality, behind their pictures of local delicacies and clinking glasses on posh yachts, people spend four hours waiting for their luggage to turn up at the airport and have already had seven blazing rows with their travel buddies. But who wants to post about that, huh?
3) Relationship status
More than half of Brits admit to lying about their relationships online (54%). Also, 77% of people in a relationship put their status as “single.” Reasons? They are a shocking array, ranging from “I still want to be desirable to others” and “I want to keep my private life private” to “I’m embarrassed by my relationship.”
I doubt that numbers in other countries would be much different. But you know what? Facebook knows you’re lying!
Yeah, sometimes we pretend famous quotes are our own.
You’ve seen it: a beautiful backdrop with a mushy quote and captions a la “just something I thought about.” It’s tempting to copy others’ words online and post them as own, especially if they strike your chord; but it’s still plagiarism and copyright infringement to do so.
5) Books we’ve read
As humans, we want people to think we’re smart, and Facebook lets us share knowledge with friends and family. We can post a research article, write a few words about it, and – voila! – we’re experts on the subject.
But the ugly truth is, many don’t read articles before sharing them. Instead, they eager to look good in the eyes of online friends. So they post content and pretend they’ve read it by commenting a few words on the subject.
The same goes for books. How many photos of this kind do you see on social media: hands or legs on a sofa, a cup of coffee nearby, and a book? Even if a user doesn’t read it, such a picture looks nice and meets the eye, right?
Why we need to stop
The fundamental reason we lie on Facebook is we don’t want to appear to be boring. But our lies are also a knee-jerk reaction to jealousy we often feel when seeing other people lead more exciting lives than we do.
We want to impress, and crafting perfect lives through social media is an easy way to do that without having to put in any hard work. We lie to gain power, boost a status amongst our network. The hesitance we used to have about lying – to look honest and therefore align with a society’s core values – erodes behind the screens where anonymity and no facial expressions seduce to tell one more lie.
But what will happen if we don’t stop?
Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist at University College London, ran an experiment documenting how a brain adapts to stress and discomfort when we lie. Sharot focused on the amygdala, an area of the brain that processes emotions, and found that its response to lies got weaker with every new fib told.
If we continue to tell these lies on social media – however small they may be – we’re in danger of creating a made-up world for ourselves and peers. One fib leads to another, until before we know it, we’re caught up in a web of lies that not only forms our online world but offline life as well.
Featured image via Unsplash