“And, after all, what is a lie? ‘Tis but the truth in masquerade.”
– George Gordon Noel Byron, 6th Baron Byron
Jayson Blair, John Edwards, Pete Rose, Benedict Arnold, Glenn Beck, Bernie Madoff, Pinocchio … “I didn’t inhale,” “I am not a crook,” “Read my lips, no new taxes,” “weapons of mass destruction,” “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” (yup, Bill Clinton gets two, because he’s so good at it), and the list goes on and on …
“I never Photoshop my selfies.”
– Rob Gould, blogger, narcissist
We’ve all told a lie. It’s simply one of the strange things about being human. Even before the widespread popularity of social media, a 2002 study at the University of Western Sydney about honesty in chat rooms found that men are big, fat liars. Out of the 320 people surveyed, they found that men were far more likely to lie than women and the lie was usually about how much money they made. However, women are hardly paragons of honesty. Today, One third of women admit being dishonest at least once a month on social networking sites.
Internet dating sites, social media at its finest, are filled with people lying about their looks, height, weight and income. Anyone who has used them, or has dated anyone at all, is familiar with these classic lies—”It’s really big,” “I’m 6’2″” “I’m a 32DD,” “my other car is a Porsche,” and the all-time classic, “I’m single.”
So, what is it about social media that allows us to lie so much more freely?
“In a 2010 survey by Direct Line Insurance, just 20 percent of respondents claimed that they were more honest on social networking sites, while about 33 percent said they were more honest when engaged in face-to-face communication. Researchers believe this can be attributed to the lack of immediate consequences when one lies on the Web, versus dealing with the other person’s potential reaction if caught lying in person.” [source: The Telegraph].
It would seem that a fear of being seen as boring or not having much to say are the main reasons behind this dishonesty. Not everyone is 100 percent satisfied with their life, so a little exaggeration on Facebook or Twitter to boost self esteem isn’t exactly shocking. Neither is downplaying low points. And, this type of lying isn’t exactly a crime, unlike the Bill Clinton kind. The fact is, individuals have the freedom to reveal as much or as little they want to, and the right to create whatever persona they choose. Maybe you list Masterpiece Theatre as one of your favorite TV shows to appear more intelligent, when you’re really into “The Family Guy.” Or, maybe you “like” Ernest Hemmingway when you really spend much more time reading People. If that makes you happy and you can live with yourself, then who cares?
But, what if you’re looking for a place where you can truly be honest and not worry about what other people think? What if you’re looking for a place where you can be assured that others have no reason to be dishonest?
Introducing Pencourage.com, a new “anti-social” networking forum. Pencourage.com, is hoping to bring an end to this world of dishonesty, enabling users to post anonymously and to be as honest as they would in a personal diary. “Imagine if you could read other people’s thoughts,” the site prompts us. Pencourage was launched to bridge the gap between what people post (on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and what they really feel.
Describing the site as “as real as it gets,” founders say the idea is to allow people to journal “every aspect of their lives, as it really is”. Sounds a bit like LiveJournal and Xanga to me, but the interface is certainly a whole lot better. So, if you’re looking for a place where you can really be yourself, check it out.
Me? I’m 100% honest, so I’m sticking to Twitter.
Pants on fire …