You're not a Kardashian, so stop lying about your life on social media

Just be yourself. There are worse things in life.
Image: Instagram nemesis, Illustration of a phone screen displaying an Instagram post of a sunny day while the background shows a broken down car on a rainy day
Everything doesn’t need to be perfectly curated in order to sell yourself to friends and strangers. Elena Xausa / for NBC News
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By Michael Arceneaux

Lies are flooding Al Gore’s internet, from Russian bots to the lying thot currently occupying the White House, and from the wide array of memes that trample on our better senses and correct spelling to everyone we follow on social media. No matter the app — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever the kids use now (because, honestly, it’s too many to keep up with after the age of 30) — you can spot one or several people lying at any given second.

Take that "friend" who is posting a picture of their huge salad on Instagram to pretend they've living a health-conscious life when, in actuality, there is a 12-piece order of hot wings (fried, not roasted) just out of frame. Then there are those people who post so much about going to the gym when they know good and well they are about to nullify whatever exercise took place by ordering Shake Shack on Postmates after, despite it being only a few blocks away from their apartment. (Full disclosure: I have told that fast food-related lie before.)

But the lies get spicier, and subsequently, even more intolerable.

I’m thinking of the person that repeatedly professes on social media how little they care about the opinions of others when the entire purpose of social media is to generate reactions from others. (Spoiler: the type of person that does this is the most irritable person imaginable.)

And, as a supporter of the thirst trap, I don’t mind a little fine-tuning before posting your picture — as a famous stripper and sex worker said in an old Ice Cube production, “You’ve got to use what you got to get what you want” — but there is a difference between gussying up via the Facetune app and using Photoshop to move entire body parts to physically impossible places to promote your new website, Poosh. (If you are a virtual Mr. or Mrs. or Mx. Potato Head, you need to stop by the end.)

And of course, there are those who just love to post about “bae” in an effort to present themselves as Barack and Michelle’s romantic understudies (a reference more about my adoration of Michelle Obama than heteronormativity) when their relationship is much closer to “Don’t Hurt Yourself” than “All Night.” Now, as a believer of true love as outlined in several classic Mariah Carey ballads, I don’t mind seeing happy couples — but no one is happy all of the time, and only pretending to be happy for likes wastes your time and my patience.

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According to research looking at online honesty published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior in 2016, researchers claimed "online deception is the rule, not the exception."

Michelle Drouin, a psychology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and one of the authors of the research, explained to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation at the time that most people who reported lying online in the survey did so in order to make themselves appear better.

"They wanted to be cooler,” Drouin explained. “They wanted to be more beautiful. They wanted to be sexier. They wanted to give an appearance of a life that was better than the life that they were leading.”

While I know such revelations are as clear as the color of the sky in cities that can boast a smaller carbon footprint, I have a plea all the same: Please stop lying.

I know these days many consider themselves to be “brands” — a thought that always makes me want to vomit in my mouth a little bit — and I accept that people want to present themselves a certain way with that select goal in mind. However, no lie can last forever. Have we learned nothing from select cast members of "The Real Housewives" franchise who have been exposed and then faced consequences for tricking people?

Maybe you’re not the kind of person who wants to become an “influencer,” but just someone who wants to come across as having a much better life than you claim to have. Still, please consider the people in your lives: They have to wake up every morning and scroll through your lies hour after hour. It’s exhausting rolling our eyes that hard. (I know because I needed extra doses of caffeine just to get through this essay.)

Stop lying about being a well-funded world traveler when you’re a flight attendant. Yes, you are traveling the world, but you’re also at work so you’re not better than anyone else. Stop acting like your relationship is better than it is; I have the group chats to prove otherwise.

And, love, stop acting like you are in the 1 percent when you are a few checks away from scrambling to cover that one extra bill, like most of us scratching and surviving in Trump’s America. (And if you’re telling some other lie that I haven’t listed, pat yourself on the back for being creative, but quit lying, too!)

All the lying does is perpetuate the seeming necessity of presenting an idealized image and faux-positive life for some people, and drive others to wanting to slip into the comforting arms of a Sade or Adele album while lamenting their lives. All because you can’t tell the truth about yours.

Still, even if you don’t consider the feelings of others (for shame), think about yourself: You are probably being clowned for every new fallacious posting.

You may not see the screenshots captioned with “Look at this liar!” in group chats in which you’re not included, but believe me, your posts are there. I am not a fan of schadenfreude, but sometimes the lies are so bad that even I end up dabbling in that dark art before I mean to, which leads to me feel immense guilt later. (As someone who grew up Catholic, I don’t need any more guilt in my life, so please, I'm begging you, stop the lies so I can't enjoy making fun of them.)

Try to be more honest. After all, you’re a person: People are fallible, and people often struggle. And while most don’t want to see your literal struggles constantly documented online, everything doesn’t need to be perfectly curated in order to sell yourself to friends and strangers. You’re not a Kardashian — or, at the very least, you’re not a Kardashian with a team of editors and filters.

I hate to end sounding like a late ’80s after-school special but, yeah, just be yourself. There are worse things in life. Again, if not for your own benefit, do it for those who know the real you and can’t stop sneering at this faux-you that you've created online to make us "jealous."