The Fourth Estate

Let’s Be Honest, We All Lie

Estelle Murray

There are numerous studies that demonstrate that most people lie on social media platforms.  The financial site Learnvest published a survey in 2017 that revealed that 60 percent of millennial respondents lied or exaggerated in a social media post. This is confirmed by Social Media Consultancy Custard which recently published results of a survey arguing that 65 percent of users “embellish, exaggerate or outright lie when documenting events of social media” in order to make their lives seem more interesting.

One of the reasons cited is that they are actually trying to make their friends and followers envious of their lives. These lies can be simple and benign like altered or edited photos, or even fake photos. People lie about their weight, the places they eat, their exercise routine, the car they drive and more. I know for a fact that I have participated in at least one of these little white lies, have you?

Be honest.

However, the lies or exaggerated posts can also be masking the real truth. People post lies to cover up how they are really feeling. They want to be perceived as living happy, fulfilled lives. Last year, this became personal when a friend who looked perfectly happy on the outside really wasn’t. Social media provided an outlet for this friend. It was a place where he could show the version of himself he wanted us to see rather than the person who was struggling so profoundly. A quick glance at his Instagram profile or Snapchat story would reveal a funny, confident young man, but that wasn’t him and I wish I had known that sooner.

He was depressed and social media made his peers blind to it. He took his own life on Oct. 15, 2016. I fell for the trap of social media. I let social media platforms dictate the versions of people I knew, judged or even wanted to be myself.

Social media is pervasive, and here to stay. It has the incredible power to connect us with friends and families. It has the ability to unite a group around an important movement or to support a cause in order to effect necessary changes. It sadly has the near equal power to divide and destroy. We all must become smarter social media users and realize that most everyone is lying or exaggerating at one time or another.

I challenge each of you to put your phones away today for a bit and to make a real connection. Talk to the people across the table at lunch, or waiting in line at Starbucks or Chipotle or Backyard Bowls or to a classmate while you are walking between classes. These real connections are vital to the human experience. You may never know how much it means to them. You might make someone’s day — or even save someone’s life.

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