The Telegraph published an article titled "Why women constantly lie about life on Facebook." My first thought was, "Do they really?" I'm a woman on Facebook. I'm not constantly lying about my life.
It turns out the article with the somewhat inflammatory title is about a survey commissioned by Pencourage, a social-media site with where people post anonymous journal-like entries. According to the results, nearly one in four women admitted to exaggerating or lying about key aspects of their lives on social media between one and three times per month. The survey of 2,000 women was conducted by OnePoll.
I hopped over to Facebook to make a very unscientific observation of my friends' status updates, looking for potential lies. Most of them are talking about the pope selection. A friend in England says she has some fancy jams, but she posted a photo as proof. Another friend posts kudos to the customer service from a Barney's outlet. I'm scrolling and scrolling, and still not finding anything that looks like a lie.
So what are women supposedly lying about on social media? According to The Telegraph, "Nearly 30 percent of women lied about 'doing something when I am home alone', almost a quarter overstated their alcohol consumption while one in five were not truthful about their holiday activities or their jobs." It also found that around 20 percent lied about their relationship status.
The Pencourage survey goes on to look at why these Facebook women allegedly lie.
It touches on the fear that their lives may appear boring to others, the desire to make their lives look exciting, and jealousy over the fun that other people seem to be having. OK, I can buy those as legitimate reasons. It's just the online version of keeping up with the Joneses, except you don't have to shell out for a fancy new car, you just need some imagination.
Given the many recent studies that indicate Facebook can mess with our moods and self-esteem, the survey results so far sound pretty believable, but we're not done here. The poll has left out one very important factor: men.
It's all fine and well to get excited about all the lying women on Facebook, but we need to put this into context. Do some men also exaggerate their exploits on Facebook? Are some of them posting status updates about partying down at the hot new club in town when they're actually sitting on the couch playing Mario Kart? If this is the case (and I'm sure betting it is), then this isn't really an issue with women on Facebook. It's an issue with humans on Facebook.
As mentioned, other studies have looked into the way social media makes people (including men) feel. A German study determined that social-media envy is a real issue for some people, and that in particular, viewing Facebook friends' vacation and travel photos can create feelings of dissatisfaction with your own life.
Pew study found that 61 percent of respondents (both genders) had taken an extended break from Facebook to deal with fatigue from using the social-media site. Since social media has been linked to bad feelings for some, it's not much of a leap for those people to react by embellishing their lives online.
Therefore, I'm going to amend the original article's title. Let's change it to "Why people constantly lie about life on Facebook." To turn this into a woman-thing is only looking at a fraction of the bigger picture.
It's confession time. Do you lie about your life over social media? Is your Facebook life an exaggeration of the real thing? Vote in our unisex poll and talk it out in the comments. It will feel good to come clean.