Over half of people (well, British people) who use social media say they lie about themselves online, according to a new survey of 2,000 Brits conducted by Custard, a UK-based digital marketing services firm. Assuming that Americans aren’t in some way fundamentally more truthful than our cousins across the pond, it seems reasonable to assume that we’re all a bunch of big fat liars too.
Overall, just 19% of respondents to Custard’s online survey said that their social media profile is “a completely accurate reflection of me and who I am.” Meanwhile 31% said they edited out all the boring details to make their life seem more exciting, 14% said they specifically craft their profile page to make it seem like their social life is much more active than it actually is, and 12% said it was inaccurate for other reasons, including “lots of little lies or exaggerations.”
Adding it all up, 57% of Brits surveyed said they don’t consider their profile page a fully accurate reflection of themselves (another 24% didn’t respond). Men were somewhat more likely to lie about their lives online, with 30.9% of men admitting to large numbers of fabrications, compared to 21.5% of women.
Custard also asked Brits what annoys them the most about social media, unleashing a torrent of politely contained bile. The most annoying habit of other social media users, at 43%, was attention-seeking status updates, followed by unending streams of selfies, at 40%; people gushing about their babies or children, at 30%; cryptic sniping at other people, at 29%; pictures of food, at 28%; over-posting, at 27%; and posts about gym or workouts, as well as gushing about significant others, both at 23%.
While it’s hardly surprising that many people try to present sanitized or idealized versions of their lives on social media – presenting yourself in the best light possible to others is a basic social instinct – when large numbers of people do it, in aggregate it can begin to present a distorted image of the world with negative psychological impacts on other users.Last year a study published by the Future Foundation found that 56% of British social media users feel they are not reaching their full potential, compared to 39% of people who don’t use social media. Their main self-perceived shortcomings fell in the areas of body image, career, energy levels, and mood.