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Aprill Brandon column: Facebook is turning us all into liars

By APRILL BRANDON
April 20, 2010 at 2:02 p.m.
Updated April 19, 2010 at 11:20 p.m.


BY APRILL BRANDON

It was the fall of 2005. I had recently limped my way through college and was working at a small Ohio newspaper.

My duties consisted of writing stories on beet farmers for a wage so low I had children from third-world countries sending me five cents a day.

My freshmen 15 was still firmly intact and then some. I was single and crushing on a male co-worker who was rumored to possibly be gay. My worldly possessions consisted of a 10-inch TV with a broken antenna and a daybed I possessed since I was 8.

But had you went to my high school reunion that year, you'd never know any of that. One crash diet of maple syrup and lemons later, that night I was the thinnish, globe-trotting journalist who would probably have her Pulitzer-worthy novel published soon, or at least that's what the rich, fabulous man with the manicure she was practically engaged to thought (insert haughty laugh here).

Ah, yes, those were the good 'ol days, weren't they? When the only time you had to eat grapefruit for a week and lie about your accomplishments was every five to 10 years at your class reunion?

But then came along Myspace. And Facebook. And Twitter.

And they ruined EVERYTHING!

See, now we plaster our everyday lives all over these social networking sites. With just a couple of clicks, I can find out not only what the majority of my former classmates look like, but also where they live, who they married, what they had for breakfast and whether or not they think a squirrel can get more fans than Justin Bieber.

Of course, old habits are hard to break, despite this new technology. As such, crash diets have now transformed into untagging unflattering photos of ourselves and only posting photos in which we don't have a double chin (even if that means only posting photos from six years ago ... not that I know ... or anything). Glamorizing our success and relationships transformed into status updates of "I have the best hubby EVAR!!!!" and "So ready to tackle this presentation to our super mega-important clients today."

Let's face it. Facebook is turning a big majority of us into big fat liars (pants not only on fire, but engulfed in flames). For most of us, our online life looks quite different from our real life. It's still us, of course, just edited and Photoshopped within an inch of its life.

Unfortunately, in real life, we can't untag our bad hair days and that hubby you love so much still leaves the lousy toilet seat up and leaves a trail of dirty socks everywhere (not that I'm talking about any one husband in particular, Ryan Hugene Huddle). So it's only natural that when the whole world can log on and see our lives, we only want to present the pretty parts (and leave out the parts, let's say, about that weird rash you keep looking up on WebMD).

Of course, not everyone does this. I've heard rumors there are actually people out there who have enough self-confidence that they don't feel the need to censor any aspect of their lives, online or off. Needless to say, these people are great.

And I hate them.

Because while I'm generally pretty upfront about everything in my life, I, too, am guilty of tweaking how I appear online. For instance, when I come up with my status updates, such as:

"Getting $3 back from the federal guvmint. Plan to splurge my newfound wealth on a Big Gulp and corndog."

And...

"Just turned a load of white clothes pink. It's like Barbie was murdered in my washer."

... I spend more time coming up with them than I'm willing to admit (roughly 11 minutes each, but you didn't hear it from me).

So is this real-life vs. online personality discrepancy a bad thing? Personally, I don't think so. With the constant pressures of everyday life surrounding us (financial trouble, stress from work, spending the majority of your downtime picking up stray socks) it's nice to be able to go to a place where only the best possible version of you exists (a version that isn't plotting to burn all your husband's socks).

Aprill Brandon is a reporter and columnist for the Victoria Advocate. And, yes, she does think this squirrel can get more fans than Justin Bieber.

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