Social networking makes you a liar?


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Social networking devices, such as Twitter and Facebook, are a daily part of people’s routines, which makes me wonder: how does it affect your honesty? Integrating your Facebook, blog, Twitter account, with all of your other social networking profiles (which we are all encouraged to do), means that we are more easily traceable across the Internet.

So, if someone turns down an invite to that “really cool block party” tonight because they’re “poorly in bed”, then later tweets about what a good time they are having somewhere else, the person who invited them to that block party immediately knows it was a lie. If you tell your boss you’re sick, forget you have them on your friends list, then you update your Facebook status about what a great time you’re having at Thorpe Park, you are immediately busted. Because of this, the ease of obtaining information, anyone with common sense knows either to hide their lies, or elaborate on the truth.

Even I have been caught out before, and I like to think I’m a bit savvier than that. I was never stupid enough to bad-mouth my previous boss anywhere on the Internet, or anything on parr with that. Mine was simple, I wasn’t answering someone’s calls or texts, but was active online, this lead them to realise I wasn’t too busy, or asleep, it meant I just didn’t want to contact them. But technically I never lied to them, I just ignored. Is that really so bad? Just because I want to reply to a few things online, doesn’t mean I want to answer a phone call right now.

I think it’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone truthfully that I’ve been too busy to do a certain thing, but also don’t care if they Internet stalk me and find out I’m not too busy to send a quick tweet or reply to a comment on Facebook. I mean, who do people think they are, the cyber police? I try to always be honest, so if I belatedly reply to an email, I don’t excuse it with “I’ve been too busy” (unless that’s the truth), usually it’s just a case of wanting to be in the right mind-state or focus to reply adequately rather than rushing it before my daily film/TV fix. I could try hard to please everybody, reply with super-quick insincere paragraphs, but that would be false.

I realise this post makes me sound arrogant, in reality I don’t receive tonnes of phone calls, or have “fans” monitoring my online activity to see if I haven’t replied in 0.02 seconds, but I think we all know a couple of people who get touchy about your online whereabouts, and how it relates to their own ego. My point is that, despite the Internet creating the need to sometimes lie and say we’re just too busy, rather than “I don’t want to talk to you right now”, it also forces us to avoid blatant lies that would get us in trouble.

I just think we shouldn’t have to lie, it should be acceptable to be in the mood to tweet or update, but be too busy/not in the mood to reply to a certain email, answer a phone call, or update something else at that same time.

That leaves me with a couple of questions: 1) Has anyone ever queried you about your online activity versus the real world? 2) Have you ever been caught out in an online lie? 3) When you make excuses to people, are they genuine? 4) To what extent are you honest online?

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10 responses

  1. To be honest, I stay honest in my social networking statuses. :cool: But I’m too aware not to spread too much personal information on social networking sites. What I like to say is people are just crazy about social networking sites; especially those with location-sharing services such as Facebook Places and Foursquare.

    I’m giving you a link to my previously published post: http://aisjournal.com/2010/09/15/where-you-are/

    People don’t stop publishing their geological location even after such news is published in newspaper like The New York Times. Tell me what they are if not crazy.

    I recall there was a time when people used to lie over cell phone. They’d say “I’m in Block A” while they actually are in Block B. This status sharing feature has made it easier for others to stalk. Good invention. :D

    • I agree with you completely, it is totally crazy unless anonymous! Which is why I think people should either avoid the need to lie, or just not post about what they’re doing/where they are, like I said in my post about people having common sense. Being honest, like you are, and like I aim to be also, is a good thing, so long as not too much personal information is given out…because then it can be dangerous and crazy like you said.

      I’m about to check out your post! Thanks for linking me and commenting, you have very good points =)

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Social networking makes you a liar? « My City Shy -- Topsy.com

  3. 1) Has anyone ever queried you about your online activity versus the real world? – My parents used to constantly query the amount of time I spent online. Then I moved out, and since then they don’t know how long I spend with my face glued to a laptop screen. And since I use a pseudonym online and NEVER follow/befriend/connect with work colleagues online, I don;t have to worry about that side of it!

    2) Have you ever been caught out in an online lie? – I don’t think so. However years of relying on having data and stuff backed up elsewhere for my easy reference has eroded my memory to that of a Koi Carp, so I could very well be wrong.

    3) When you make excuses to people, are they genuine? – Usually. Although like yourself, I often have to be in the right frame of mind to do something particular. Writing lyrics for the band when all I really want to do is play World of Warcraft would not end well.

    4) To what extent are you honest online? – I’m as honest as I am in real life. In some cases, I’m actually more honest online because the remoteness removes the sense of embaressment or shame that can come of too much honesty in person. Obviously, this honesty doesn’t stretch to using my real name, but I don’t often do that in real life either!

    Rooney

    • Excellent answers, if you don’t mind I’d like to use them in a Dissertation I’m writing about the psychological impacts of technology, if there’s no objection then I shall proceed. Also, your real name doesn’t exist, you don’t even have a surname, you will just be Rooney forever haha

  4. The only time I can think of that I was caught in a lie that involved the internet was when I was talking on the phone to my girlfriend at the time and she heard the little AOL Instant Messenger noise of a new message after I told her I was on my way to meet her. She wasn’t happy even though it takes me 2 minutes to walk over to her place.

  5. I’ve never been caught in an online lie (I don’t lie that much :P ), but when I did it, I didn’t write anything related to that particular event in any social networks.

    I believe that if you want to have/maintain your privacy, it has to start from you. If you don’t want to be caught in a lie, don’t write or post about that subject….or else, someone will find out.

  6. Ohhh my gosh, more and more people have found out that I float “appear offline” on my instant messaging account. I can tell some people feel insulted, because I don’t talk to them when they’re online most of the time. The truth is, I appear offline just in case I NEED to talk to someone. Or to contact someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. I really dislike instant messaging most of the time! Buuuut, while I’m not speaking to them, they see my updated Facebook stuff. It makes me feel like I have to sneak around about it, in case I insult someone… which is not my intention at all. Now I’ve just told people to try messaging me in case I am online and they want to chat. =P

    I tell people “I really just don’t like instant messaging.” And it’s the truth! They don’t seem to believe me though. >_<"

    • Arghh I have that exact same problem with some people…and sometimes even worse, I will tell someone that I’m logged in but not active as I’m busy and have it on just in case etc, then they STILL keep popping up with message after message. I don’t like being rude to people, but I certainly have no problem being crystal clear with them.

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