The Incentive to Lie on Social Media

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When we talk about social media, we often think about the glamour and variety of content we find on the internet. However, this information is not always true, which is what is discussed by Church and Thambusamy in his paper on deception in Online Social Networks that I believe holds a large amount fo validity in our perception of the world today.

When one meets people in reality for the first time, the one chance to make a ‘good’ first impression may often cause a person to say things about themselves that may not necessarily be true but could be perceived as beneficial to one’s character and appearance to a stranger, especially if the stranger could allow a benefit to oneself. Keeping this in mind, the fact that many people do this online is extremely believable and not surprising, As mentioned by Church and Thambusamy , the possibility that we may not know our entire audience when it comes to the information displayed online, we often wish to put on a show in order to present a better or ‘richer’ lifestyle in order to conform to social norms of being ‘successful’.

While thinking about this, I read the work by Trevor Tse and his talk about Instagram got me thinking as to why people of certain ages seem to have a more ‘authentic’ display on social media as compared to others having a more ‘superficial’ one and on further reading of articles I realised that such falsification of certain types of data can often be, as mentioned by Church and Thambusamy , due to hedonic benefits, in this case, due to better job opportunities. When looked at from a rhetorical situation, if I was an interviewer for a company, and coming across two candidates, one of whose social media was littered with pictures from parties and other random events as compared to a candidate with social media that shows him/her in a working environment or well dressed with information and evidence of accolades, I would be largely influenced with my decision on whom to hire.

This paper was interesting as it made me check my own Instagram personally and comparing it to those of other people I know, and found that the one’s with more followers were people who posted pictures that could often be defined as more ‘aesthetic’ and in fact found a disparity in the number of likes I received on certain pictures purely because one garnered to social norms and one did not. This made me realise that the ‘need’ for upvotes on social media is a controlling factor for the falsification of date online and realised that it can be subjective for different parts of social media as well.

As mentioned by Church and Thambusamy , they realised the limitations of their study, which made me relate the paper to the work by Worrell which also spoke of its limitations and found this comparison to be key as it was important for both articles to mention that their results could not be considered as hard fact and that there was plenty of room for further research on the topic which makes me wonder as to whether social media is just a front for what we wish our lives truly were or a representation of what we believe our lives to truly be.



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