January 9, 2011 Facebook Fibbing? How Honest is Your Social Media?
How honest are you on your social networking sites? You at least fib a little if you are like 69% of the respondents to a recent survey conducted by StudyLogic for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. The study found that of Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn and other social media users, only 31% of respondents said they were totally honest, while 26% said they fib a little, 21% said they post “total fabrication” and 22% said that they “flat out lie.”
If the social media realm is about creating slightly to wholly artificial personas, what does this say about how social media users are connecting? Is it really connecting if the basis of your understanding of another is false? Can you really call someone your “friend” if they are a fictitious character?
On the other hand, is Facebook lying any different from the lying people do face-to-face or on resumes and biographies, or how about online dating sites? This 2007 Forbes.com article says people lie on their resumes on the regular and that some experts even encourage it. Do we think anything has changed now in this tight economy? Probably not. One study showed that people lie rampantly on their online dating profiles. No surprise there. Psychology professor, Robert Feldman, says in his book, The Liar in Your Life, that most of us lie frequently and with ease to passing acquaintances and even to those closest to us. And in addition, we are not very good at detecting when someone is lying. We, according to professor Feldman, have developed a certain tolerance for untruth. We are comfortable with certain lies and even in some instances prefer to hear a white lie over the harsh truth. Human resource personnel and others who regularly field job applicants say that they know that some of the information from applicants and resumes are fluff and fiction. Perhaps this is also true for college admissions officers. Do they know when and what to take with a grain of salt? They may. But don’t count on it!
The risky part about Facebook fibs is when they contradict or are in some way different from what you have represented elsewhere. If you have submitted a college application that says one thing, you need to make sure that all of your other representations are consistent. And if you are deliberately putting forth fictions, just let your readers know so—that you are joking or telling a story. According to Professor Feldman, those who might be looking and reading likely cannot tell if you are being truthful or not. But it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.
I know. I say that a lot!