Saturday, January 19, 2019

Lying on the Internet: Social Media is a World of Lies


The world of (a)social media is built on lies.  Think about it.  How much of what you see on (a)social media do you actually believe?  Think about it for a moment.  What have you read online that you once thought was true to find out was false?  Sites like Snopes are required reading to wade through the lies that exist on the internet.  

The truth is, there is a lot that exists on the internet and on (a)social media that just can not be believed.  An NBC News Report of an MIT study about false news on the internet states:
“Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information,” the team, led by Sinan Aral of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in the journal Science."
Why are people on these sites then?  If you can't believe what is said, why do you follow this stuff?  That's the big question.  Yet, it's not just news that is passed around that is false.  Much of what people say on (a)social media is not quite the truth.

Why is this?  Well, it could be the fact that (a)social media exists for people to brag and get their own all-important points across.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram all exist for people to advertise how wonderful they and their lives are to the rest of the world.  And, much of what is said is not reality.

It is no secret that the internet is often a web of lies.  Go to forums such as JDUnderground and see people brag about their degrees, incomes, and general lives.  People enjoy making others want the lives they have.  As some of my students like to say, "we live in a dog eat dog world" and there's a lot of truth to that statement.  Sisters, cousins, brothers, friends, enemies, children, co-workers, classmates and even church members like to compare themselves and their lives to others.  Nobody likes to be at the bottom of the food chain.  On (a)social media it's all too easy to fib a little.  Some take it a step further and turn it into an even bigger lie.

Look at the dating sites on the internet.  Craigslist (which is no longer a dating site per se), Plenty of Fish, or Tinder, for example.  How many people fake their profiles in some way?  How many people say that they are not or have never been married?  How many people use older pictures of themselves?  On the internet, it's all too easy to show "your best side."  And many people seem to think that there is an okay time to lie.  Add to that the fact that many people are more okay lying to strangers (people on the internet) versus people in everyday life.  After all, what are the repercussions if someone online finds out you lied?  Generally, not much.

CBC.ca states that:
"The internet is a web of lies. 
That's according to new research looking at online honesty, which found that "online deception is the rule, not the exception."
 Is It Okay To Lie Online?

Personally, I believe in never telling a lie.  A lie, in my opinion, is always wrong.  Once trust is broken, it's hard to gain it back.  And once a liar, the harder it is to be honest.  That is not to say that I have never lied.   I have.  But, I regret every single instance of it.  I do not believe that it is alright to lie online.  I do not believe that it is right to not be honest with other people, whether or not they are on the other side of a screen or on right in front of me.  Sadly, the world does not share this view with me, and when I look at (a)social media, I see too many lies being passed around.  Whether they are malicious lies or small "white" lies, I don't agree with any of it.  It's a complete waste of time to spend your time wading through lies and false statements when you can just stay away from all of it.
According to Drouin, most people reported lying online in order to make themselves appear better. 
"They wanted to be cooler. They wanted to be more beautiful. They wanted to be sexier. They wanted to give an appearance of a life that was better than the life that they were leading," she said. 
But there were other reasons too. 
"Others said that they lied because they just thought everyone lies online. This is the place where lying is standard."  Source:  CBC.ca - Everyone lies on the internet, according to new research
On social media, you can be whoever you want to be, even if it's not true!  Want to appear smarter, thinner, more well read, sportier, funnier, wilder, neater, less criminal, more savvy, not addicted to (a)social media... well you can.  And, those are the posts that get the most likes.  Want to be honest, truthful, transparent, honest?  Well, those posts don't really get the attention.  Have horrible diarrhea and post about it?   Whoa, too honest!

I have heard many people say that they can not believe sites like Wikipedia (which is peer-reviewed) but will believe e-mail and message forwards and posts on Facebook.  Stories circulate, some based on fear, and others to evoke good feelings, that in the end are just not honest.  And our precious time is spent reading and believing these things, and applying their ideas to our lives!

It's sad that the world of (a)social media can't be more honest.  It's sad that we can not always trust each other on the internet.  Yet, life is not always like that.  What's the next best thing?  Spending your time trying to decipher the truth?  Trying to figure out what is more and less likely to be the truth and what could be a lie?  Nah.  The best thing is to just say "goodbye."  Why spend your time engaged in lies?  That's one reason I don't read tabloids.  Why would I spend my time standing around with my head in my phone doing the same thing day after day?  That's the question.

Are you sick of the constant barrage of lies that exists on (a)social media?  Do you trust what others say?  What about your closest friends?  Are you tempted to lie?  Do you think that it's okay to lie online?  Are you starting to think that social media is just a HUGE waste of time?  If so, share your views and experiences in the comments.

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