This won’t come as a shock to too many people, but social media is not the best place to put your trust in what people are posting. In fact, it’s best to take most posts, and posters, with a grain of salt. According to a study commissioned by smartphone maker HTC, social media users in Europe (U.K., Spain, France, and Italy) have a tendency to post things that make their online personas seem more outgoing, The Daily Mirror reports. The people in the study — 4,004 of them, between the ages of 16 and 54 — even admit to exaggerating the sense of adventure in their lives when posting to networks that included Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
More than two-thirds of those surveyed say they purposefully post pictures to social media to make themselves seem more outgoing and adventurous than they actually are. Equally troublesome is the fact that 75 percent of Brits acknowledge judging their friends based on what they see on their social media activity. And 52 percent of the approximately 1,000 Brits surveyed admitted to posting images of possessions and items with the express, intended result of making their friends and family envious.
According to behavioral psychologist Jo Hemmings, this is all about managing how people see you.
“When it comes to why we feel a desire to share our public displays of possessions, it’s all about impression management,” she says.
In a sense, this means that today’s social media snapshots are more vital than ever in making people think of you in a certain way. Some would call that manipulation or exaggeration.
So the next time you’re browsing profiles and streams on Facebook and Instagram, remember that many people might be putting on a bit of a fictional show.