Social media is a safe haven for all the narcissists and liars amongst us. It is a place full of fantasy and love. Love of self mostly. These are just some of the wonderfully twisted insights from last week’s Social Media Week event hosted by The Works, writes digital marketing consultant, Cecile Ferre
The problem of truth in social media (rather the lack of) was revealed in the findings from the Datafication project shared at last week’s Over Anxious, Over Shared; Over Social, Under the Microscope – How Aussies Really Use Social Media event.
I was amused to find out that out of both genders, women lie the most on social media. They lie to make others feel good, unlike men who lie to make themselves feel good, we were told.
I was also astonished to learn that portraits mentioning the hashtag #nofilter aren’t always the real thing. The ongoing study into the daily habits of Australian social media users found that a significant number of #nofilter images had visibly been enhanced with filters or otherwise.
Some social media punters obviously feel the need to lie on how truly beautiful they are. Maybe they should take a page from the Kardashian family’s book. The Kardashians have undeniably perfected the art of looking good on Instagram and are a great example of the narcissist archetype. They could be forgiven for flaunting their image so much however; it is their brand after all.
As the speakers went on to explain our key motivations for sharing on social, it appears that our propensity to tell fibs about ourselves could be proportionate to the size of our ego (or self-esteem) and our irrepressible need for recognition and rewards.
As I listened to how prevalent lying seems to be amongst social media punters, I couldn’t help reflect upon my own motivations for sharing on Facebook and Instagram in particular.
I typically share moments of happiness, fun or beautiful content. Admittedly, I want my friends to know that I am having a great time when I am having a great one. What’s wrong with wanting your mates to feel happy for you after all? Of course, not every happy post qualifies as an act of sheer narcissism. There is the acceptable, mild case of self-gratification on social. And the other more extreme, off-putting kind – Kardashian-style.
Finally, it’s one thing to be wanting to share one’s happiness all around, it’s entirely another to fabricate it entirely like this Dutch student (in)famously did as she set out to invent her gap year in South East Asia and went on to brag about it on social media to her friends and relatives, all blissfully unaware of her antics.
This story only shows how easy it is to fabricate a better self and better life on social media – and how it may bring out the darker side in us, willingly or not.
Not surprisingly, where happiness is flaunted so openly and at times excessively, its opposite, depression, is never far away. They are the two sides of the same coin as it were. Others’ happiness may trigger feelings of envy and self-loathing, ultimately leading onto depression, many scientists tell us.
Indeed, plenty has been written on how Facebook makes up unhappy and on Instagram as the most depressing social network. And most recently, the American Psychiatrist Association went as far as to make the selfie a mental disorder. Yes. Really.
Perhaps, the best way to avoid deluding oneself or falling into depression altogether is to cut back on social media or stay out of it entirely (digital detox, anyone?).
Or more simply, as Canon Australia put it to us recently, it’s time to put true meaning back into our everyday life snaps. Australians, it went on saying, are increasingly getting tired of trivial photos and self-documented life stories. Now, that’s got to be good news.