At a concert, you “tweet” how great the music is, and what a fantastic time you’re having. But the truth is that the sound system is garbled, the crowd is rowdy. And you really just want to get back to your car as quickly as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t enjoy the show as a whole. But the image that you have drawn in people’s minds via your constant “Twittering” is much different: you’re living it up, having the time of your life. The rest of the world should be jealous.
If you are reading this, there is a 90% chance that you have a Facebook or Twitter account. And on your Facebook or Twitter account, you have probably sent updates about your breakfast, your workday, your thorny breakup, horrible rush-hour traffic – or even your latest nail color.
Twitter and Facebook make it extremely easy to update the world on the minutiae of what’s going on in our lives. We have seen Facebook used for “evil”: women use the social networking tool to bust their deadbeat baby-daddies; plenty of people have had their explicit romantic rendezvous uncovered. Some people are even jail bound because of the things that they have posted online.
But for the most part, if you look at the collection of photo albums, wall posts, and the multiple status updates – it’s easy to wonder whether or not these people are really telling the truth. Is the person who has been ranting and raving online really as angry as he/she appears to be? And what about the woman who has so deftly planted the most flattering photographs of her solo vacation? If you really think about it, it’s not much different from the kind of tomfoolery that people employ on typical dating websites.
You always want to be at your best; you want the person of the opposite sex to view you as a viable romantic option. This is normal. But how far are we willing to go to portray a certain image to the world that is colored slightly differently from what’s truly going on in our lives?
And furthermore is the instant gratification of Twitter and Facebook really to blame for these little white lies? It would seem that these two social networking devices encourage people to be more straightforward about their day-to-day activities. After all, the real-time nature of both of these social networking tools seems to automatically imply that what’s occurring is in fact, true – and happening to us at that moment.
How many times have you slightly embellished your status update to appear more inviting to those who read it? How many times have you appeared much more ticked off about your current circumstances than you really were? (Perhaps to gain sympathy?) And how many times have you used a status update in order to cover up something that you didn’t want people to know about? Potentially, any online tool can be abused and manipulated in a way that “tricks” others into believing what we want them to. We are addicted to Twitter and Facebook because of what these two social networks represent: acknowledgment. These social tools scream to the world “I’m here. I exist. I’m important.”
These two online entities certainly help us to connect, reconnect, network, advertise, blah blah blah… Most of us really do use Facebook and Twitter for its intended purposes: to keep up with the world around us and remain linked to those we love. Why these two social tools compel us to embellish is perhaps connected to a subconscious void that we are trying to fill. Isn’t it ironic that in a world where we have been trained not to believe everything we read, Facebook and Twitter have become the holy grail of reality?