Lying online: confession time?
Today’s paper includes an interview I conducted with Professor Robert Feldman about his book, Liar. It’s an excellent, entertaining and not-at-all-daunting read (the book that is – not the interview, about which you can make up your own mind). So, if you’re looking for something to take on holiday with you, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Intriguingly, Feldman mentioned that his next work will focus on the internet and how it affects our relationship with the truth. Early studies indicate that we are more inclined to lie online – not a surprising discovery in itself, given the wealth of opportunities the internet offers for deception, and the impersonality it introduces into relationships. More interesting will be Feldman’s finds in terms of how we lie online. Is it a matter of airbrushing the truth (for example, polishing our facebook profiles)? Or is it a case of outright deception (lying about our appearance on an internet dating site?).
Despite the fact that we seem to lie more online, I can’t help but wonder whether we also truth-tell (as it were) more too. Think about it: how many times as the World Wide Web been the source of exposés, leaks and confessions, whether it’s wikileaks revealing a list of BNP members or TMZ breaking the news of Michael Jackson’s death. Sometimes, we reveal too much. Who could forget the case of Sir John Sawers, the MI6 boss whose whereabouts, friendships, and beach body were broadcast via his wife’s facebook page. Personally, I’ve all-too-often regretted details posted online. Networks like Twitter bring out a new, confessional me. Gosh, I tweet, too many calories at lunch! Too much money spent on the weekend! Not enough work done today! It’s a trend I can see in others: facebook friends, twitter followers, other bloggers, all blurting out things to the comfortable, quiet, audience of the Net. Is it a form of truth compensation? Or an altogether separate trend? Let’s hope Dr Feldman can provide an answer.
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