You can barely move on the internet for people emphasising the importance of authenticity. But it turns out that, in order to be perceived as keeping it real online, you have to be a huge fake.
Yep, we’re all there because we want people to talk to and to like us, but apparently we get really offended if it actually looks like someone’s made an effort to… get people to talk to and like them.
Researchers from Aalto University in Finland studied profiles on Facebook and Last.fm and surveyed users about their experiences. They found that social media users place a high importance on other people keeping it real.
Anything that came across as making an effort to send a good impression, like photo manipulation, over-excited selfies, or editing a profile to make yourself seem like you’re living your best life when you spend most nights with a glass of wine and Netflix, was looked down on.
But the Finnish team also found that in order to fit in and be ‘real’ in the way other people expected, users worked to portray an image that didn’t reveal any of their weird quirks, in case they weren’t accepted.
On Last.fm, users admitted to curating which songs they listened to according to the impression they wanted to make; avoiding anything they worried would embarrass them. On Facebook, people chose not to share experiences they suspected other people might not relate to, or opinions that went against the grain.
The researchers concluded that if you want to be liked online, it pays to be a conformist – as long as you make it look effortless.
So if you want to come across as authentic on the internet, you can do so by being sure to never reveal the truly personal, slightly embarrassing, individual flaws and tastes that make you real, and people will probably like you as a result. If you actually want to be authentic, well, you’re on your own.
Image via Pixabay.