What if Facebook Told the Truth?

Social media is on everyone’s mind nowadays…bloggers, corporations, college students, retirees, mid-level dental practitioners, etc. We are all talking about it. For better or worse, we’re putting social media on our salads, marinating pork chops in it, and using it to style our hair.

Gah! I'm nameless!

Some see the advent of social media positively, as an exciting new frontier, the way of the future, and a symbol of human innovation. However, others fear the advent of social media signals our civilization’s decline, with meaningful relationships being transformed into an insipid system of likes and reblogs.

One criticism I hear consistently is that social media networks allow their users to construct false portraits of who they are. They can choose a flattering profile picture, carefully select their favorite movies, books, and music in order to put forth their best self, or at least the self they want to present to the world.

In theory, this might make it more difficult to tell if a person is a loser, but it seems the fools are still easy to spot. People shamelessly admit, with no hint of irony, that they love Jersey Shore and Gossip Girl, that they only read texts written in Ottoman Turkish, and that they prefer to listen to Disney classics covered by a famous jazz flutist you’ve never heard of.

Perhaps it’s most frightening to consider that our facebook profile is the most accurate portrayal available of our mind-self. Nevertheless, the information is still selected by the user, for the most part.

But what if facebook told the truth about us, all of it, in addition to the profile we create and the photos and posts we censor? What if, in addition to statuses filled with articles, Bible verses, smiley faces, and humorous thoughts, facebook also posted things like, “had black thoughts of hatred towards innocent person” or “took the last cookie out of spite” or “hurt someone on purpose without remorse?”

What if facebook recorded our interactions with others and organized it in a virtue and vice section, with characteristics such as selfishness, unfaithfulness, joy, and kindness. And what if it filled in the other categories too, revealing our guilty pleasures and secret loves, like country music and chick flicks and picking our toes?

If facebook reflected not only how we see ourselves, but how we interact with others and how others see us, what would that be like? Are these things already apparent? Would we be any better for knowing the truth? When we knew the dirt on everyone, would we lose all faith in humanity because of our iniquity and poor taste?

If it really showed everything, including our struggles, our darkest thoughts, and the sense of hopelessness we all sometimes share, I think in most cases we would see that we are more alike than different, even the people that like country music; the disclosures would reveal a common humanity that is not at all shameful and probably not even surprising.

Isn’t this precious? I’m imagining a reaffirmation of humanity through the use of an omniscient social network. Orwell, what are your thoughts?

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47 thoughts on “What if Facebook Told the Truth?

  1. Rivki says:

    Interesting thoughts indeed. Even though there’s that deliberate superficiality to social media, I think we can still tell a lot about people by what they choose to display. For me, it’s a different kind of information parsing, and I can choose to pay attention to the people who choose to post or share things I find interesting, useful or entertaining, and weed out the complainers, spammers and other white noise. I don’t think we need a virtue and vice section, because I think a lot of it is put out there anyways. There’s a certain kind of oversharing which exists in the perceived anonymity of the internet. I’ve seen a lot of rants or ridiculous statements which I doubt people would make in person, but in front of a computer screen, well, it’s a fascinating social phenomenon.

    Me, you can tell that I’m one of the long-comment-leavers. I’m sure that says something about me too. Besides the fact that I like to talk, or like to hear myself type.

    • edrevets says:

      I also like to hear myself type, so no worries about that. I suppose almost everything can be useful or interesting from an anthropologists point of view.

  2. Novel idea! One of the reasons why I am not fanatic over Facebook is the fact individuals can tailor what they share in order to appear to the public a certain way.

    • edrevets says:

      I, an avid participator of facebook, think the same thing, but I also think people tailor their appearances in physical life. But perhaps it’s easier to discover the posers when they are in front of you.

  3. El Guapo says:

    I thought there was truth on facebook.
    You mean all those people are lying about what they had for breakfast?

  4. I think we should challenge online dating sites to do this too! It would be great to know when the last time that person really went on a run – I bet it was months ago. If so, then I would have been more interested. I also say I like to run but actually doing it is a different story.

  5. There’s a good/not great/definitely worth it book that came out last years called “Super Sad True Love Story” that’s a satire of the new media age. There’s a great element which is this interactive social networking so when you walk in a room you immediately are told how attractive everyone thinks you are in relation to everyone else; also people have grown so numb to revealing themselves online that people have become too honest.

  6. But couldn’t this be another way for people to lie… like if they said that their guilty pleasure was to still play with dolls – when really it making scrap-books of magazine cut-outs or something silly like that – how would you actually know… I mean that’s why we don’t really say what is on our minds… most of the the time for it’s some song from a musical or a negative take on like…which I change to something upbeat so that people don’t get depressed…

    Now that I’ve said that – how do you know I’ve told the truth? Will facebook come with lie detectors and private investorgators… It’s a really great post and I agree with you, even it, it may be hard to tell… but still how will we know these truths are indeed true?

  7. Roly says:

    Facebook and Twitter as much as I dislike them are the new coms route. I prefer blogs, they say so much more 🙂

  8. Archon's Den says:

    I’m safe from FACEBOOK. I read your posts, which proves that I have no iniquity or poor taste, that, and the fact that I won’t go near the damned thing. If you want to know about me, you have to read my blogs, in which every second word is a lie. All you have to do is figure out what word I started with, to know the truth.

  9. If I was 100% honest on Facebook there would be a giant neon sign over my page that would say, “DON’T BE FRIENDS WITH THIS GIRL!”

  10. Lady Sensory says:

    I hear ya but I have to ask – you don’t have any high-school classmates who blat about their current pathetic existence? Because I have a few that are so honest (every dramatic detail) that I’ve had to hide their updates. Too much FB overshare on the toe-picking, if you will. For example, we had a girl who was posting many depressing updates and one was about her kids crying over a bookcase that fell over and killed the family hamster. One of my other high school friends was convinced that the hamster somehow toppled the bookcase to off himself so he didn’t have to live in the house with them anymore. For a while it was entertaining (like, when I’m having a bad day, I’ll just hop over to so-and-so’s profile and feel instantly better about myself), but then eventually, it just made me feel sorry for them. So I hid them. Eek!

    • edrevets says:

      I’ve had to make many people go away, not so much from oversharing but from extreme boredom. I would prefer the hamster. But another person brought up the possibility of voluntary oversharing, overhonesty, if you will, and I found that interesting.

  11. mikesretirementplan says:

    Let the truth shine through my friends, for we shall all be the better for it. BTW, I am 6’2″ and blonde Adonis. NOT. I am 6′ though, and my hair used to be blonde, and my six pack has turned to a twelve pack, but I will tell you the truth, and if you don’t like it, tough shit! We would see our friends list drop to those that actually know us and like us in person now, so what. I really get a kick out of those that post their garbage all over the place and then get upset when you call em on it. If you don’t want us to respond in ways you don’t want to hear, don’t put it on here for everyone to read. Nuff said.

    • edrevets says:

      People have the freedom to post whatever they want, but the comment boxes and like buttons are there for a reason. Thanks for your honesty.

  12. jensine says:

    A fiend once told me that I am not a typical facebooker as I do write the truth and don’t lol and like everything … also still prefer a cup of eta with a friend and a proper chat over facebook time

    • edrevets says:

      I’m with you. No matter how social media gets, I’d still rather see a human face that’s not gone through the underbelly of the world and emerged in pixels.

  13. tomwisk says:

    Yeah, but what about all the fun you can have using uncovered losers in pieces you’re working on. Anyway the most you’d get is a loud hum from some of the folks and static from others and who really wants to look into the cesspit of somebody’s soul.

  14. artzent says:

    I confess: I like country music and almost all other kinds. Don’t pick my toes though! I really think that we have enough garbage on social media. That’s one reason that I like blogging; its a cut above the rest! People actually try to make a point and make you laugh at the same time. Your post are just like that!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Rich Crete says:

    Scary thought. We are not evolved enough to handle the truth about ourselves let alone each other.

  16. LWSpotts says:

    I have often thought of FB (and other social media) as a microcosm of life. In the long run, first impressions give way to truth…even in the filtered social media, which is a good thing overall.

    • edrevets says:

      That seems about right, because no matter how much of it is distorted and to what extent, it’s still stuff about the humans themselves.

  17. The Dark Quill says:

    Loved the piece. I rememeber long ago in the early days of the internet, I used to go to chat channels just to visit with people from all over the world. It was hillarious. The women were all 5’10” blondes weighing 110 pounds, had dark tans, d-cups and porcelin skin covering bodies to die for.
    The men were all 6’2″ weight lifters with broad shoulders, narrow hips, smoldering eye, well defined pecs and washboard abs.
    I used to love just telling people the truth, I am a BIG man 6’6″ tall and 400 pounds, I am as ugly as the south end of a north-bound mule. I have all of the wit and charm of a rattlesnake with a sore tooth.
    The funny part was that they would never believe me and assumed I was some adonis trying to be funny. The internet can be a funny place…………

  18. debsykate says:

    Can’t believe how much i am enjoying reading your posts 🙂 . I used to be very open on facebook, and in general, but i’m not anymore because people do judge you and i can’t be bothered dealing with it.. So i save my real self for my real friends. I would like to reveal however, that i do like country music, secretly, i listen to it on my headphones and nobody knows….

    • edrevets says:

      I should start some sort of coming out group for the closet country lovers. It’s a good place to begin for the rest of the life, maybe.

  19. If Facebook became an omniscient social network that revealed the actual truth about everyone, membership would have to be mandatory and enforced. Otherwise, Facebook’s membership would run like the wind as far away from Facebook as they could possibly get.
    It’s been my experience in life, that nothing is more greatly avoided by so many people, than the actual, factual, unvarnished, pure and unadulterated TRUTH!

  20. tom says:

    If it sells advertising, I am all for it

  21. Katie says:

    Fantastic post. Very Orwellian.

    If I posted my current thoughts on facebook my social media world would get quite the shock!

  22. minlit says:

    I’ve often wondered why, as we twitter our way to a collective consciousness, no-one seems in the slightest bit worried about what our collective sub-conscious might hold.

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