Can you see me?

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. Oscar Wilde

It couldn’t have been much more than a year ago that a guy (let’s call him Frank) asked me for my hand. Romantic, isn’t it? Not so much. See, the problem with Frank was that I didn’t have much of a clue who Frank was. Sure, we’d exchanged a bunch of messages on Facebook, but I do that with so many people I meet online. It really startled me and since I had absolutely no idea how to respond, I ended up saying nothing at all. A few days later, Frank deleted me off his friends list. I couldn’t pretend to be all that disappointed because, to be honest, my mind still hadn’t come up with anything to say. And yet, something about it kept on bothering me, but it wasn’t the lack of Frank’s presence in my inbox. No, what bothered me was how on Earth he’d been able to fall in love with someone profile-to-profile?

Taken from brizzdazz

Well, not too long ago a TED talk caught my attention. In the The Future of Lying, Jeff Hancock illustrates the problem of deception, something that’s been fascinating us for thousands of years. From Diogenes and Confucius right down to the modern day, we’ve wondered time and time again: why is it that people can just make things up? Not that we wouldn’t enjoy novels or tv series, but still, people don’t limit the use of their imagination to just storytelling. Even where the most mundane and boring parts of our lives are concerned – we lie. Research has shown that we do it approximately one to two times a day. It would be easy to assume that online – free from reality’s constraints – we’d be even less honest than usual, but oddly that’s not the case. According to Hancock we lie only by “a little bit”. Thus, although we may not be telling the truth per se, it’s close enough.

Wait, what? Yes. He’s used diary studies in order to determine our honesty across different media. A number of people were asked to record “all of their conversations and lies for seven days”. He then calculated “how many lies took place per conversation within a medium”. First, Hancock mentions e-mail (which is the most honest medium) and the phone (the least honest), but he also talks about Facebook. And, surprisingly, it really helped my confusion quite a bit. Why? Well, I suppose I’m not the only one who simply assumed that Facebook’s only showing us the most “idealized versions” of people, or to quote Hancock “no way are my friends that cool!”. But oh no, we may all be very much mistaken. By comparing the description of someone’s personality made by four of his closest friends to that made by a number of strangers based on his profile…Hancock and his team arrived at the following conclusion:

Those judgments of personality were pretty much identical, highly correlated. Meaning that Facebook profiles really do reflect our actual personality. – Jeff Hancock

Taken from mycareerbuzz

Possibly, Frank’s been playing the speed-dating game at much higher level than most – by profile hunting people. Our semi-lame exchange of messages might’ve had nil to do with him throwing his hat in the ring. It could’ve just been my taste in movies or the way I (usually don’t) do my hair. Plus, speaking as someone who’s always had a lot of “virtual” friends, I really do understand how great it can be to talk to someone who isn’t even remotely connected to your environment. So, who’s to say that these well crafted profiles we feel so comfortable hiding behind aren’t giving away much more of ourselves than we think and that some people, like Frank, are more attuned to this fact than others? Oscar Wilde – who was after all the master of artful lying – may have been on to something rather important. Namely that, whenever we’re dealing with any kind of mask, what we actually end up with is the bare naked soul of whomever is wearing it.