Thursday Thought: How Misleading Our Are Social Media Identities?

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WITH THE LEVEL OF TRUST IN SOCIAL MEDIA RAPIDLY FAULTING, THE QUESTION OF HOW TRUE ONLINE IDENTITIES REALLY ARE HAS TO BE POSED. ARE SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES AN ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE? OR, ARE THEY JUST A CHANCE TO SHOW OFF A DESIRED LIFE? NERVE ONLINE INVESTIGATES.

The average person has five social media accounts. To put that into perspective, a quarter of an individuals time is spent managing their social image.

It’s no secret that it’s something that people really care about. Every unique meal eaten, every impressive outfit put on and every cool event attended; it’s almost imperative that it is shared online.

But just sharing it isn’t enough. Profiles have to represent someone’s life in the best possible light. Everything about the post shared matters: the editing, the angle and even the time that it is posted.

There is a constant attempt to make others live in a moment with us, but just how realistic is that moment?

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Kelly Johanneson: claimed to have ‘faked’ cancer

We’ve seen unrealistic examples in extreme forms and some far less harmful:

  • Kelly Johanneson, the woman who was discovered to have ‘faked’ Stage IV breast cancer through her Facebook page, raised over $4,500 that she allegedly stole… pretty extreme.
  • An Ad Agency used social media to promote the need to recognise excessive alcohol consumption in friends. They revealed a lavish lifestyle through the (fake) picture-perfect Instagram account of Louise Delage (58,000 followers). Alcohol was ambiguously hidden in every single picture to promote an unhealthy addiction… a far subtler example.

It’s clear that faking an entire social media account is easily done, if someone has the purpose to create one. Arguably, most do not. However, it does pose the question:

how much of the life shared on social media is true?

Upload an image in a dress with heels. Caption it with ‘thank goodness it’s Friday’ and people would assume that you have been out (despite the fact that the image is from weeks ago and you’re actually sat in your pjs with a pizza at home). Again, not something everyone would necessarily be inclined do. But what about posting the caption ‘had such a good night with these guys’, when in reality you were bored as soon as you reached the club and counted down the hours until you could go back to bed? We are all guilty of that!

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People have realised that they have ‘misleading’ social identities:

Essena O’Neill, the popular Australian model, is the perfect example of this; dramatically deleting her Instagram after admitting to her posts being deceiving. Her images were not necessarily a lie but they weren’t true either.

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(Essena O’Neill: changed her captions to be the truth)

Naturally, people are deceived by other social media accounts. It has become a norm to manipulate the way people view our lives. When you think about it, more often than not posts are ‘fake’. Sure, it really is us in the picture. The event featured was genuinely attended and whom we are with is not a lie, but

can we really say our posts are ‘the truth’?

Most importantly, if people were truthful about their lives, would that make them seem uninteresting? Do people really want to know that you’re on your twelfth episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, whilst you dine on a mundane cheese sandwich?

We know that not everything is likely to be shared; yet  huge judgements are made based on a person’s social media:

Profiles are analysed with the mind-set that the person’s life is exactly like how they post it to be. Consequently, there’s the perception that other’s lives are always exciting, that girls have flawless skin in any situation and that people are un-apologetically happy in all of their relationships.

It’s irrelevant that this isn’t true. It’s what we are led to believe.  Essentially, someone’s social media account can be verified (yes it really is them), but what cannot be verified is how true the posts are.