Everybody Lies On Facebook

Regardless of how truthful and straightforward we are,

Everyone lies on Facebook.

Now, online lying is not what it used to be. Lying used to be Big. Treacherous. Dangerous.

Teachers and parents were always warning us that people on the Internet were not always who they said they were. That oftentimes they were predators, preying on innocent boys and girls. That answers to the common internet inquiry of A/S/L (age, sex, location) could not be trusted.

Because not everyone was nice. And not everyone was honest.

Nowadays, the lying is much more subtle. And people lie all the time. Even the people who are nice. Even the people who are honest.

Even me.

(And I like to think I’m both nice and honest).

I’m an avid Facebook user. I truly believe that social platforms allow us the opportunity to connect and light up the world in ways that were impossible in days past.

And I post updates on a nearly daily basis.

Sometimes, people ask me if I’m really as excited as I seem online. If the things that I say happen actually occur, and how frequently. If life is really that wonderful or if I use my words to paint a reality different than the one I experience.

The truth is,  life is often even more wonderful than what I post. Living presents us with so much beauty and kindness and glory. I have to consciously limit the amount of rainbow LIFE IS GLORIOUS I vomit onto social media because I don’t want to ever give cause for someone to think ‘less’ of his own life.

I don’t share everything that makes me smile or inspires me or makes me feel grateful for my life. Because it’s unnecessary. And can be hurtful.

When I do that, I am lying. Lying by omission, maybe. But lying.

There is some truth that is intentionally being omitted. Because I have an image of my life that I want you to see.

And because not everything needs to be shared.

The same works with the negative.

There are plenty of periods in my life when things are tougher for me emotionally. When life is just not as vibrant nor clear nor exciting. It just… Is.

And on those days, sometimes I have one flash of light. I see one act of kindness. I’m uplifted by one random interaction or meme. That one thing can be the saving grace of my day.

And I will post about that one thing and that is the only thing you will see. You won’t see the hours that passed without event. The time spent spacing out at a wall. The time spent involved in mundanities.

The truth is, life is often harder than what I post. I have to consciously select the amount of painful reality I leak onto social media because I don’t think it necessary to seek validation from my audience and don’t want to bring anyone down.

And I do this frequently. I don’t share everything that frustrates me or disappoints me. Because it’s unnecessary.

When I do this, I am lying. Lying by omission, maybe. But lying.

There is some truth that is intentionally being omitted. Because I have an image of my life that I want you to see.

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And because not everything needs to be shared.

There are the stories behind the pictures. The motivations driving us to post photos of our food for ‘likes’. The number of selfies before that selfie.

The feelings towards ourselves as we take those selfies.

There are the number of failed dates before the wedding photo. The number of spontaneous abortions and IVF payments before that smiling child.

On social media, it’s very easy to make life seem less bright than what it is. Or less dark than what it is.

Or at least less confusing than what it is.

Because when we look at someone’s Wall or Instagram or Twitter or weekly email we are only seeing the dust jacket of that person’s book. Not the text.

Lying is a part of life. It’s a part of leaving your house. It’s a part of healthy interactions.

And although this lying may not be a threat to our personal safety, it is still Big. And Treacherous. And Dangerous. Because we can look at others and take things at face value and think that’s all there is. And we can start feeling horrible about our own lives.

I’ve literally had to stop scrolling through others’ Instagrams and Facebook profiles because I realized that it was making me less satisfied. It was making me bitter. It was making me feel horrible about the daily grind of school and work because everyone was having a great time always.

We look at others and we think we know them.

But we only know a part of them.

We know the part of them with the professional family photos and the witty remarks and the wonderful self confidence.

But we are only seeing a tiny fraction of other people’s realities.

We see the highlight reels. The movie trailers. The happily ever afters. The climaxes of the stories.

And those are beautiful to watch. And those are real things that happen. Those highlights are something.

But they are not everything.

When I meet up with friends from out of town, I meet up with them having seen pictures of the inside of their house and the baby pictures of their youngest child and the poem that their husband lovingly posted on their wall.

But I will still sit down with them, look them in the eyes and say, ‘Okay, tell me what’s been going on. In real life.’

And people will say, ‘it’s been tough’ and describe difficult marriages and stressful debates about life decisions and struggles with anorexia.

Because that is life beyond face value.

So go ahead. Be a Liar via omission. That is necessary for human survival.

But, for your own sake, remember that everyone else is lying, too.