Facebook, Twitter or reality?

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Sophie checked in at; the couch, Sophie updated her status to ‘Watching Friends reruns in last year’s novelty Christmas pyjamas’…

This may have been the reality of my day but I would rather stick pins in my eyes than post this on Facebook, for there is an unwritten social rule that on the net thou shalt portray thy life at its most sparkly and fabulous.  Choosing a profile picture is a convoluted process, each snap carefully judged on criteria of teeth-whiteness, flat-stomach promotion and hair bounciness and tweets are carefully composed to maximum wittiness. So, why do we present a ‘perfect’ caricature of ourselves on social networking sites, as opposed to the warts-and-all truth?

My theory is that ‘Perfect Facebook Syndrome’ is a reaction to interaction with acquaintances BFAT (Before Facebook And Twitter). BFAT it was likely that you would only bump into Emma from high school on the off chance in the supermarket, and sod’s law dictates that you would be sans make-up and buying a 12 pack of doughnuts for one. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet now Emma from high school can marvel at the photos of your tropical beach holiday (bikini pics rigorously approved, of course) and be bombarded by statuses and tweets about your generally wonderful life. The sad truth is that we self edit our lives in order to seem more presentable to the average 500+ ‘friends’ we have acquired on a number of sites.

Perhaps the urge to put a gloss on actual events spawns from a classic case of life envy? If there is that one person you ‘follow’ that is always having a fabulous time with fabulous people and fabulous hair to boot, your own life can seem alarmingly dull in comparison. However, I am willing to bet that everyone plays the over-exaggerating game and that the awe inducing tweet of ‘Sipping champagne in my Prada stilettos’ probably translates to ‘Chugging cider in my Primark pumps’. Yes, some people may have genuinely wonderful things to post but don’t feel the need to compete, instead take pride in the fact that the post about your fab new job or amazing night out with friends was 100% true.

The antidote is a Facebook cull. Mark Zuckerberg called them ‘friends’ for a reason, so axe the lad you sat next to once in art class circa 2002- especially if you feel you have something to prove. It would be wonderful if social networking went back to what it was intended to be; a forum to connect with current friends, catch up with old friends and to meet new ones, instead of the brag-fest that many of us are guilty of making it. In the mean time, an old adage may be useful to bear in mind: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

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