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Is Your Social Media Profile the Real You?

social media facebook itentity

Think back to when you made your social media profile. You typed in your age, some basic information about yourself, the music you liked and the movies you enjoyed. This became part of the You that the world could see on line anytime. And, chances are, that ‘You’ isn’t totally real.

Recent studies have found that most Facebook users misrepresent at least some part of their profile. One common bit of information likely to be untrue is the user’s age. Young users tend to make themselves out to be older than they really are. Facebook has a policy that users under the age of 13 cannot be members. An estimated 80% of kids under the age of 13 have a Facebook account,* which means that all those kids have false information in their profile.

In many instances, these profiles are done with parents’ permission and monitoring, allowing children to keep in touch with distant relatives and close, trusted friends. As these children get older, few change their ages back, preferring instead to be considered “older” and “more mature.” That means that you could be chatting with someone you think is, say, 18, when that boy or girl could be only fifteen, if not younger.

Some people give themselves a younger age. This can be vanity–or a way to make a younger person feel more comfortable talking to them online. By appearing younger in a Facebook profile, little children are more likely to share plans and activities, helping make them an easy target for predators.

Another way people are likely to misrepresent themselves on social media is by downplaying negative parts of their lives and exaggerating the good stuff. This is easy to understand. Many people are embarrassed to tell others when life doesn’t go their way. All of us want others to think the best of us and look at us in a good light. Suppose that you raved on Facebook about how well a team try-out or a date went, when in reality you feel disappointed. Your friends might congratulate you, which could make you feel even worse when you don’t make the team.

In reality, your life is your business. Being completely honest about every little feeling you have can be wearing on both you and your friends. Imagine posting every thought, every move, every activity and every little thing you do, from washing your face to putting on your shoes. You decide what is important enough to post.

Many people make a habit out of keeping their social media simple and basic. They post birthday messages and social activities that are already common knowledge. Personal information is shared only with personal, real friends. After all, what you do in your real life is the real you.

* READ our recent article on NIMBLE NUMBERS. After reading that, you might find yourself asking about how truthful the 80% number is. The question you should be asking is, “Where did that number come from?” In this case, the 80% figure came from a Consumer Report survey published on pcworld.com, both sources known for being fair and accurate.

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