Have you got a portrait in the attic? 70% of Brits admit to doctoring their social networks in order to appear younger, healthier and happier.
How truthful is your Facebook profile? Is Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ really your favourite novel? Is fell-walking and charity work really how you spend your weekends? A study into 1000 individuals’ social network profiles revealed just how much of our day-to-day lives we lock away in the attic like a dusty old painting in the hope of being viewed by our peers as better looking and more successful.
The study, carried out by mobile communications firm, fonebank.com
, showed the extent to which image-conscious Brits tailor their social networks’ profiles in order to live a double-life online, one in which every sin, sag, wrinkle and blemish can be hidden.
De-tagging unflattering pictures is the most common form of digital profile cleansing with 70% of those who took part in the survey admitting to removing pictures in which they perceive themselves to look ‘ugly’ or ‘too old’.
Olly Tagg, director at CMR, the mobile phone firm responsible for the survey into our virtual lives commented on the findings: ‘I think the story of Dorian Gray is a great parallel to how we behave on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Getting snapped mid hen-do looking like a grogged-up Dot Cotton licking sour milk off a cactus is something that no one wants to see! We all want to keep the truth hidden away in the attic!’
And it isn’t just pictorial evidence which narcissistic Brits are tampering with: nearly 15% of those surveyed confessed to editing or removing wall posts which relate to Birthdays or age.
Tim, a 33 year old graphic designer from London, said; ‘If you’ve been out for your birthday celebrations at the weekend and are sat at your computer Monday morning feeling like you’ve been on a 3-day bender with Byron, the last thing you want is your circle of friends commenting on just how bad you look! I think it’s a form of self-preservation.’
CMR’s study also showed, perhaps rather predictably, that the purging of Facebook and Twitter becomes more of a theme the older we get. 35-45 year olds spend the most time worrying about how their virtual self is perce
ived with 45% of those in this age bracket claiming to have lied about their hobbies and interests to promote a ‘healthier and younger’ image.
Tagg continued: ‘It’s really interesting how we bend the truth depending on our age. Our results showed that the younger people who took part in the survey – those aged between 16 -25 lied about their favourite bands and the films they watch. Those aged north of 40, however, tended to massage the truth about the books they had read and how active they were.’
Twitter has also become a refuge for untruths and self-promotion with 35% of those surveyed admitting to following a celebrity or public figure simply to ‘fit in’ with their friendship group. Similarly, a further 55% of Twitter users professed to lying about what they had been doing; preferring to post a ‘more active’ sounding tweet. Almost 30% tailored the language they used when tweeting in order to appear clued up on the current internet lingo.
Tagg likened the findings to a flipped version of Dorian Gray’s portrait in the attic, which ages and withers out of sight as the real life Dorian leads a bohemian Victorian lifestyle; wanting to stay young and beautiful forever.
‘’The real life has now been shunted into the attic and our virtual lives represent a glossy, ‘new-improved’ version of ourselves – we can be anyone we want to be online’’