Most people by now have seen or read the news stories about fake social media profiles being used online. As a parent, the ones that frighten me most are the stories about adults posing as teenagers or adolescents in order to befriend and then prey on unsuspecting children. A malicious profile is completely fraudulent in this case, and isn’t that what most people consider to be the definition of fake?
After awhile, though, I started thinking about the legitimacy of all social media profiles. In the end, I came to what I believe is one undeniable and overwhelming conclusion: ALL social media profiles are fake… To varying degrees at least.
Allow Me To Explain
There are a variety of different social media profile types that exist, and all of them are fake by definition:
- The “Everything Is Awesome” Profile – These are the people who appear to have it all based on the myriad of daily posts that showcase just how wonderful their lives are. It’s highly unlikely that anyone’s life is 100% wonderful, though, of course. No one’s perfect. I know (or at least hope) you may be thinking at this point, “That’s really not a bad thing considering all of the negative stuff that is going on the world,” and I completely agree with you. Personally, these profiles are probably my favorite. It’s refreshing that there are people on social media who want to share the good things in their lives. After all, positivity breeds positivity. By not presenting both the good and bad, though, that does make the profile false by definition. Despite this fact, I do my best to stay as positive as I possibly can when posting. I would definitely prefer to read positive posts on Facebook vs. feeling the need to unfollow someone who is constantly negative, which bring me to the next type…
- The “Debbie Downer” Profile – This profile is the exact opposite of the one above. This type of person posts almost nothing but negativity. Again, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m confident that there are those in this category who may have truly fallen on hard times and use social media as a way of seeking out support. Unfortunately, the Web can often be even crueler than the real world, so these people should be careful to choose friends who are compassionate and understanding. They don’t need to be brought down any farther. Their posts could be a cry for help, and I don’t want to downplay that fact based on the silly name that I gave this type of profile.
- The “Anger Management Needed” Profile – This one is again similar to the one above, only the tone of their posts in this case are normally pretty angry instead of being melancholy. These are the people who use social media as a way to vent about anything and everything they feel is wrong with the world today. It’s okay to bring people’s attention to issues that you’re passionate about; however, it should be done in a far more positive way than the fire and brimstone approach that these individuals often use. Social media is a fantastic way to engage others in conversation, but you should try your best to be positive and open-minded. That’s the best way to effect change in my opinion. It’s also one of the best ways that people can learn from one another. Even if you truly believe that you’re 100% correct about a certain subject, you should be respectful of the views of others. There’s a huge difference between being passionate and simply being a jerk, which is a great segue into the next one…
- The “Troll” Profile – These users are the scourge of the Internet. They get enjoyment out of trolling the profiles of people they don’t know or the comment sections of public posts. They post comments in order to stoke the fires of conflict. Sadly, these profiles could just very well be the most genuine of the bunch if you really think about it.
- The “Cool Kid” Profile – The word “kid” in this case refers to both young people as well as immature adults. As a parent, this is the profile type that I most fear any of my children eventually falling into. These people tend to not give much consideration to what they post other than maybe wondering, “Will it make me look cool?” The problem with this is that these individuals have a tendency to make bad decisions and then post the resulting information online. This is normally done in the form of incriminating pictures that could get them into trouble. Images showing them engaged in illegal behavior such as underage drinking for example. Not a good idea, but it happens because these individuals either don’t think things through or, worse yet, they really couldn’t care less about the consequences of their actions.
- The “Narcissist” Profile – This one is very similar to the “Everything Is Awesome” type. The main difference here, though, is that their posts tend to be extremely egocentric and/or vain. An inordinate amount of selfies is a typical sign of this profile type as is the fact that they almost never “Like” anyone’s posts. Granted, most people talk about themselves on social media. That’s kind of the point. However, narcissistic people take it to an extreme.
- The “Please Like Me” Profile – These people have a desire to be liked by anyone and everyone that drives them 24/7. They will avoid conflict at all costs and will say almost anything that gains them the approval of others. Individuals like this type of social media user may rank near the very bottom when it comes to being genuine, but they do tend to keep things very light and positive online despite their almost incessant need to fit in everywhere with everyone.
- The “Extremely Occasional User” Profile – I think that many people have to have at least one of these friends. These are the social media users (typically only Facebook account holders) whose posts are very far and few between. They haven’t been completely indoctrinated into social media addiction and were probably talked into signing up only because someone told them, “Everyone is on Facebook these days?”
- The “Constant Poster” Profile – Finally, there’s a type of user who doesn’t quite understand the point of social media sites, so they simply post just about anything. Either that, or their just REALLY bored because they post the most mundane things imaginable, such as what they had for lunch or the fact that they’re waiting for their appointment at the dentist’s office. It’s likely that we’re all guilty of this from time to time, but these people do it all day, every day. Too much information can be a bad thing when it comes to detailing your life online. Now that I think about it, though, these profiles could very well be the least fake of them all.
So What’s The Problem?
A big issue I see is the fact that some employers use social media profiles, like those on Facebook and not just LinkedIn, as a way of researching potential new employees. These hiring managers take the information they find at face value (pun totally intended) and make employment decisions based on what they uncover. Moreover, some companies also attempt to monitor employee behavior on social media. In fact, my former employer would send out emails to the entire company on a semi-regular basis to make everyone aware of their unnamed but “sophisticated tools” (I think that was the term they used.) for monitoring social media outlets. These messages basically said that they were watching us, and we’d better not say anything negative about them or else. That’s really what it came down to. Those emails never left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling to say the least. I believe that they actually contributed to the hostile work environment there, but that’s a subject for an entirely different article.
By no means am I judging when I lightheartedly categorize profiles as I do above. In fact, I consider my own social media profiles to be fake to a certain extent based on the definition of the word. Not only are they divided up based on usage (e.g. I don’t post the same things on Google+ that I do on Twitter, nor do I follow the same people – yes, Google+ is still being used by some people as of this article’s writing.), but I also shy away from posting about things like religion and politics on those platforms. These are hot button topics that almost always generate a lot of bashing and negativity. I will also go so far as to admit that I will sometimes refrain from “Liking” something on Facebook that I may actually agree with simply because I’m concerned about what certain other individuals may think if I do (and I’m paranoid that Facebook knows WAY too much about me already anyway). This is coming from a guy who is pretty blunt and used to have an I-don’t-care-what-anyone-thinks-of-me attitude. Deep down, though, I honestly believe that almost everyone cares about what other people think of them even if they say they don’t.
True Social Media Profiles
It’s highly unlikely that social media profiles will ever truly reflect any individual no matter how complex the algorithm on the backend, and that’s okay because we all deserve at least a little privacy in our lives. We all have our flaws and, while some people are comfortable embracing them publicly, we are by no means hiding them either by not posting about them online.
Is there a profile type that you feel I’ve overlooked in this article? If so, please feel free to add them in the comments section below.