Why do people lie on social media?

I want to know why they lie!

Since the dawn of speech people have lied, nothing new there, but when it comes to social media it seems truth is harder to come by.

Lives are fabricated and everyone is full of rara but that surely can’t be true. Lets face it, most people lead normal lives and that’s great!

Normal is okay, at least it should be!

Trickery of the highest order!

The goal of this post isn’t just about why people lie, it is also about the positive and negative impacts of lying on social media! 🙂 The real question is did I lie to you just to bring you here? 😛

Key Points

  1. Some lies are actually good, similar to everyday niceties. Leaving a compliment, liking someone’s content to encourage them or not oversharing to keep a positive environment.
  2. Pseudo-self vs true-self, maintaining a public pseudo-self can impact the way you see yourself, the decisions you make and can ultimately result in your pseudo-self ruling over your true personality.
  3. Living up to a life that is not your own can often create a sense of animosity towards your true self & life.
  4. People lie because they can and are encouraged to, omissions can be just as harmful as exaggerations causing isolation when you need help.
  5. Many don’t realize the truth can be refreshing and can actually capture the attention they seek in a more meaningful way.
  6. Power; sometimes people lie to project a more powerful persona and influence others.
  7. Manipulation, while most lie due to insecurities or keeping up with the Jones’s; there are those that lie to manipulate. Be wary of opportunities that sound to good to be true!
  8. It is their job. Media personalities, actors, comedians etc. It is important to differentiate between deceptive behavior and stage personas.
  9. Everyone does it! It is likely that many people lie because they feel others do it also. Especially on dating sites, people may feel disadvantaged competing with the truth against embellishments and lies.
  10. Addiction to positive feedback, (Likes, Hearts etc) and reinforcement. People lie on social media forums to improve and maintain social status, as well as to protect the ego.
  11. A defense mechanism against trolls and cyber-bullies.
  12. The bigger the gap between our real self and the ideal self the worse our self-esteem.

One final point: By the very nature of it at the present time, social media is a place where people have time to think before they post. Take what you see online as an artistic, well thought out presentation for many of the too good to be true personas. The best piece of advice I can give you if you must compare yourself is: Imagine the best version of you that you could present, mentally compare that to what you see. Ultimately you are amazing the way you are, social media is simply a single-window with frosted glass; behind the window is a full very complex house.

We asked mental health professionals why people lie on social media.

Individuals will often lie on social media because the persona they are trying to display is viewed as more appealing than their reality. This may be their own personal opinion, or that of the greater demographic they are trying to engage. Either way this can be harmful from a psychological perspective. It is a huge burden to live up to a life that is not your own and can often create a sense of animosity towards and disconnection from the life you actually lead.

Talya Knable, LCPC

People like on social media with ease:
First off, there’s no eye contact. Eye contact is usually a a dead
giveaway.
Secondly, they feel a sense of power and control when they influence others
in ways, they aren’t able to influence people in face to face encounters
Thirdly, they have the opportunity to become someone they wish they were in their fantasies.

In addition to these reasons, people often lie on social media to create a desired response from others in order to meet their own emotional needs: Admiration, Empathy, Approval, Attention and a host of other needs are sought after by social media phonies.

At the core of this issue, lying on social media; however, is you really
aren’t gaining for yourself what you want, you are gaining it for the
pseudo-self you have just created. That’s the sad truth. When you like on social media, you are ultimately lying to yourself!

So, the moral of the story, as you may have guessed by now is this.. Be
yourself. Your the only you there is.

Michelle R Hammer, MS, LCPC, – Turning Leaf Counseling & Consultation

The online environment is easier to control than in-person. You can control
how you look, what you say, how you sound, and more. The nature of the
online environment promotes lying. We’re constantly seeing others’ posts,
about what they have gotten, where they have been, etc. It makes their
lives seem so much more interesting than our own! The reactions we may get
(likes, comments, etc.) also creates a sense of competition with others,
which can lead people to think they need to lie to be popular or to get the
recognition they want online. People also believe that others do it, so it
makes lying seem normal or more acceptable.

In general, lying isn’t good, but if you’re lying on social media, you
should ask yourself why. Are you keeping up with the Jones’ and trying to
make your life seem as interesting as you think others are? Are you doing
it for friends or popularity? Do you think being honest would lead others
not to like you? Does it help your self-esteem? Are you trying to help
others’ self-esteem?

I can’t think of many helpful reasons to lie, but there are likely ways
people are doing this that are minimally harmful. For example, liking
someone’s picture or making a nice comment, when you don’t really feel that
way, or telling someone things are good or you are doing well when you’re
not. These are similar niceties to ones many of us make in-person and are
seen as harmless or even helpful for our relationships.

Being too honest on social media can hurt one’s social standing- posting
every moment of their lives, saying mean things about others, or spreading
drama. Such behaviors will surely lead others to want to stay away and can
even cause conflict. An alternative may not always be to lie, but to not
say anything in some cases.

Jesse D. Matthews, Psy.D. – Licensed Psychologist

We asked more professionals about why people lie.

Social media often presents a carefully curated depiction of happiness. Unlike traditional social settings, social media users have time to assess how they will present themselves in direct comparison to others. They can adjust lighting, angles, captions, and more to create the perfect moment.

Farrah Parker, Publicist
(Note: I included Farrah’s contribution because I also wanted to highlight an important point. I personally feel that media personalities sometimes fall into a gray area similar to actors. The line, in my humble opinion, is if the “lie” is clear or deceptive in nature. What I mean by this is, for example, lighting and presentation as Farrah mentions above is an expected part of the profession. Lying about accomplishments, qualifications, achievements and past results, on the other hand, is never acceptable but a well-curated persona is to be expected.)

People display a pseudo self on social media. Only the best parts of their reality, with a dash of misleading images. It is a well-curated life of its own, interesting to strangers, and with the intention to conjure jealousy in acquaintances. Who is stopping you, and who gets hurt, it is a delusion that users often vindicate. Being honest is always important, and in a social media, realm may be even more interesting since it will be different than everybody else. Building a social media presence that portrays the user how they think they should look, and interact, becomes a consuming process. Filtering its way into your decision making, the social media persona starts ruling the real personality, and with that, any online lying may be detrimental to the person. Yet, the social media standing may live on. You need to decide who you really are, some will find the most personal value in reality and some in social media.

David Barbour is co-founder of Vivio Life Sciences

Lying on Dating Sites

When it comes to dating sites, people feel they have to be more glamorous and impressive than they really are, so they lie. It is a chance to let your alter ego out, and pretend to be something you aspire to be. It feels like everyone else is lying, too. Is it completely harmful to do so?

Is being honest detrimental to social standing on social media?
It depends on what you want to create. Sometimes, dishonesty is popular. People like what you’re saying, even though it’s untrue. However, if the truth comes out, you may be the recipient of a lot of hate and negativity. But, if you want to create closeness and respect, then honesty is the best policy.

Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka Dr. Romance) psychotherapist and author.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. ~ Oscar Wilde

Hi. I’m the co-founder of Supportiv an online peer support community that’s anonymous so that the users can express vulnerability without fear.

From 49,000+ users having over 600,000 anonymous conversations, we’ve
learned that many people feel that they need to embellish how perfect their
lives are on social media because they are addicted to positive feedback
and reinforcement — likes, hearts, followers.

Expressing any vulnerability is feared as an embarrassment, or an
invitation for mockery from trolls.

Thus, people lie on social media forums to improve and maintain social
status, as well as to protect the ego.

Helena Plater-Zyberk Co-Founder | Supportiv Inc.

First of all, there’s less accountability. If the majority of your
followers are people you’ve never met in real life, or who you don’t see in
real life very often, there is no way for them to know if you’re being
dishonest or not. Therefore, with less risk of being found out, the
temptation is greater to present yourself or your circumstances differently
than they actually are. Second, there is the temptation to keep up with
the Joneses, to look like you’re not missing out or have any less than
those on your social media accounts. This can lead to us creating a false
sense of self, where we start to embody who we think others will accept and
find cool, rather than who we actually are.

Is it completely harmful to do so? Is being honest detrimental to social
standing on social media?

It can be harmful to lie on social media if you’re starting to embody a
false sense of yourself, one that you think others will like, rather than
who you actually are. This creates dissonance between your online persona
and who you are in real life, which could cause harm to interpersonal
relationships. Being honest could be detrimental in that some of your
followers may not appreciate or respond to your honesty, and therefore,
unfollow you. But others may find your honesty refreshing, especially
friends and family who spend time with you in real life.

Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT
Therapist, Certified Premarital Interpersonal Choices & Knowledge (PICK)
Instructor

What are some of the main reasons people lie on social media, more so than they do in traditional social settings? Usually to keep up with the perfect images others portray on social media. Lying helps them feel like they are keeping up and normal.

Is it completely harmful to do so? Yes, lying to present a false image makes the reality of our life more discouraging. The bigger the gap between our real self and ideal self the worse our self-esteem. Is being honest detrimental to social standing on social media? Yes and no. It could be since you’ll lose the ideal image. However, others may be drawn to your transparency and feel encouraged through it. 

Dr. Wyatt Fisher, Licensed Clinical Psychologist 

Our social standing is our primal survival. Posturing is how we show ourselves in the world.  Our garb, our adornments, our story must fit the narrative we’ve established in our survival strategy.  If we know that age eliminates options, we lie about our age.  If we know that height eliminates our mate’s interest, we lie about our height.  A thick waist, short hair and big nose is easily app’d, fixed, shined-up and touch-up so that our SM presence is as sparkly as we imagine ourselves or at least what we can live with, for the world to see.  Your online adornment is your survival in the marketplace, even if it’s just for friendships and socializing.  I coined the term NARSIE, which is a photo once you’ve posted it.  A selfie is to take the photo, a narsie is to post it.  We must maintain our ‘look’ it’s literally life and death.  In all the world’s misrepresentations, it’s harmless to present the newer more improved you . . . try to look at it as artwork rather than lying, especially when talking about photos.  Consider anything you read online as an artistic impression of who this person wants to be and enjoy the best foot forward.

Kimberly Friedmutter CHt Author & Certified Hypnotherapist

Most people don’t outright lie on social media. But we rarely are truthful on social media either. We only show our best selves. We post pictures on vacation, spending time with family and friends, engagement and wedding photos, and announcements about new jobs or about our kids. We don’t post photos with bedhead, when we get fired from work, or about the mundane activities of our lives – well at least most of us don’t. We generally only post the positive things because this is what will get likes and comments. We want friends and family to be jealous of our lives because we see their posts and photos and know that we are often jealous of them living their best lives that we see on social media. Social media is about sharing details of our lives, but mostly just the positive things which creates a false perception that everything is going well and we are happy, at least from what people can see from our posts. As humans, we gravitate toward exciting people and the same is true of those we follow on social media. Positive people have more friends, and more social media followers, and what is the point of posting to social media if it won’t get likes and follows? The built-in virality of social media is designed around us wanting to receive notifications which are more likely from overly positive content rather than more truthful and real content. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

Andrew Selepak, PhD – Program director & professor at the University of Florida.

Lying for the sense of reward. Have you ever felt a rush of excitement when
you post a cute photo or witty comment on Facebook and receive a slough of thumbs-ups and positive feedback? The feeling is fleeting, and it drives
you to post more–maybe even fudging the truth or exaggerating. Internet
strives for the most likes and comments on a social media post. Some social
media users use this means for the illusional reward; thus, they are more
likely to lie about an injury or accomplishing a major feat.

Lying to obtain personal information. Unfortunately, scammers and fake
accounts are notorious for stealing personal and financial information from
unsuspecting social media users. Behind the screen of a computer or
smartphone, people are much more comfortable without human cues and the consequences of face to face interactions. They are more likely to chat
with others via IM, forums, or feeds.

Furthermore, social media has altered many users perspectives regard
ing friendships. If your friend’s request on Facebook was accepted, then you
must be close to this person in some way. It is easy to forget you are
talking to a stranger with unknown intentions. The chances of gaining
personal information on the Internet is much higher than coaxing it from a
person in real life.

Justin Lavelle is the Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified 

The biggest lies on social media are small.

The big far fetched lies don’t even bother me that much, the photo in a Ducati as your profile pic when I saw you step out of a beat up Jetta just yesterday … I’ll let that slide. The lies that really get me are the little lies, the emotional lies, the little exaggerations.

You know the ones I’m talking about, the perfect smiling faces, the never ending perfect normal moments raised on a pedestal. I want to know why people lie, I want to know why they lie about the little things and why they lie about the big things.

I want you to tell me in the comments why you think people lie on social media – the best comments will be added to this article!

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