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Faking Good

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Did you know that some personality tests are sophisticated enough to detect when a person might be faking bad or faking good? When I took one in grad school, the computer report said that I could either be faking bad, or that I’m just really hard on myself. Talk about sophistication! My Inner Critic was detected right away.

In general, I think people are more likely to fake good than fake bad. I am no exception. Most people can’t tell when I’m upset. Even when I tell people I’m upset, they don’t believe me because I’ll be smiling–like when I bought my mattress. So even when I’m trying to be honest, my face is still faking good.

Facebook is the perfect example of millions of people faking good every hour of every day. Even though I know from experience that things are often not what they seem, I still feel like my life pales in comparison to my friends with their happy spouses who declare their undying love for each other on their anniversary. Or their children who are winning sports competitions and getting good grades and saying funny things. Or their vacations to exotic places while I’m stuck at home because of the snow.

But then again, sometimes I’ll scroll through my pictures and wonder if people feel the same way about me. All of the happy pictures with my family. Pictures at sporting events, tennis tournaments, and karaoke parties with my friends. Pictures of my latest knitting project or the jewelry I just made.

Even if we want to be more honest on social media, it’s hard to do because it’s so visually oriented. Like, it never occurred to me to take a picture when I was getting my divorce papers notarized. Or to take a selfie of me lying on the couch, too depressed to do anything. I guess I could have taken a picture of that time I shattered my microwave door and had to sweep up hundreds of shards of glass, but I was too busy being pissed off.

The most honest posts I’ve seen are the ones where people say how they still miss a loved one on their birthday. I have not yet lost someone close to me, and the thought of doing so fills me with fear. And now I know that the sadness stays with you for the rest of your life. It exists right alongside of those happy family posts. But at least it makes the picture of their life seem more realistic, and therefore more relatable.

If you scroll through my wall, amidst the posts of family and friends, sports and crafts, you’ll see my blog posts. Verbal snapshots of my obsessiveness in action. Guilt and shame over failed relationships. Evidence of how difficult it is for me to be kind to myself. To believe that I deserve to be loved. That I’m worthwhile. This is my attempt to be honest through social media. My tribute to the complexities of real life.

But not everyone has a blog. So if you have ideas for how to stop faking good on social media, I’d love to hear them. It could be the beginning of a campaign. Like the one to stop bullying. We can work on the catchy phrase later.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

20 responses »

  1. I feel the same about social media, especially FB, but have no answers. I’ve noticed that people often exhibit the desire to be fooled, as if they want to believe the world is bliss (except for the increasing number of political propaganda, which is a different issue). I’ve noted how kitten and puppy pictures/videos (which, yes, I love) are avidly viewed and shared while someone’s increasingly dark posts are ignored (I’ve lost literal hours conversing with such people and don’t regret it). Yes, I know, there are those hungering for attention, but then that, too, is part of the problem as too many people’s lives become social media. When I was extremely sick it was, in many ways, a lifeline to other human beings, but over the last year my participation on FB has plummeted as I’ve re-embraced my love for the outdoors. Much of the problem with a site like FB is that it’s TOO big, and so what was personal becomes increasingly impersonal. Sorry, I’m rambling as observations spill out. The bottom line is that social media continues to have great potential, but is increasingly becoming a sprawling mess, and I have no idea how to fix it, though I believe there are answers.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sometimes maybe it is good to have the distraction from the crappiness every day life. Sort of like watching a sitcom. And sometimes it’s better to go outdoors than sit on your computer scrolling through FB. But I, too, could do without the political posts.

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  2. I just don’t bother with Facebook much. It should be called Fakebook. I’ve never taken a personality test. I read that studies show the test most commonly used is not very accurate, but potential employers continue to use it anyway. I don’t know which test you took, but apparently it was accurate for you, though.

    Love,
    Janie

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. You nailed the problem with FB, this need to show the better side of ourselves: look at my vacation/cute children/puppy/dress/food on my plate. Exhausting to keep it up!

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  4. lol… i feel fb is jammed with people who love attention. there is no way they will admit to being upset on it, unless if it gives them more attention. everything most people do on fb is to get attention, even when they miss a loved one. am very protective and dont tend to put my friends and family out there… and on a bad day, or even a really good one, there is no time to take photos. photos we have are mostly of those slow boring days and we are trying to make everyone else think that we are having the time of our lives

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  5. It’s true that we all ought to share the happiest of all the memories to show the brighter side of the picture to others. But the we’re better at fooling ourselves than to fool others and at ignoring ourselves than to ignore others. We tend to ignore the dark sides as they don’t really exist but that’s clearly not helping the masses.

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    • Ideally we would feel free to share everything.

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      • Yup, true. Totally agreed and we do at some points with closed friends but humans as unpredictable as they are, when a feel of betrayal comes along the ways, that patch of sharing gets even darker. Probably this is why people project themselves stronger than they actually are or because of the same reason ‘I don’t care’ attitude is exhibited, as per your field of expertise, you’d have a better insight into this.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I only post my blog and 2 to 4 updates a week on Facebook. My friends who do must have exceptional lives!!!! (Faking good)

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  7. I like this…it’s real talk. I really thought it interesting when you said “Like, it never occurred to me to take a picture when I was getting my divorce papers notarized. Or to take a selfie of me lying on the couch, too depressed to do anything. I guess I could have taken a picture of that time I shattered my microwave door and had to sweep up hundreds of shards of glass, but I was too busy being pissed off.” Although I don’t much do Facebook for personal benefits I can respect your perogative to put it out there as a way to show social media an example of realness so to speak, and the multifacets of life. However, and this is just my opinion, I don’t see the need to share, or show personal information without purpose unless the person divulging the information or receiving could possible benefit from it. Perhaps, to a family member, best friend, or pastor/therapist that could give me the support and feedback I need. In other cases I could see the benefits say if an individual was going through some situation that I had been through in which I could share my testimony so to help someone focus on what helped me in a similar situation, or to avoid some mistakes that I had made. This will benefit in helping them to get through it more easily, or to comfort and encourage them. Nevertheless, I appreciate your post, and thanks for sharing Christy;-)

    Be A Blessing!

    LaTrice

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Thanks for your feedback. I agree that there’s a difference between sharing things for the purpose of getting attention or griping that is not the same as being truly vulnerable in an effort to connect to people in a more meaningful way.

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  8. Kathleen McCormick

    I agree with you. Keep up the good work in letting people know the good and the bad. Just relating the happy times can be a tyranny of sorts – it leaves others outside the kingdom of utopia and relegates reality to the hinterlands…

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. Kathleen McCormick

    Oh and, by the way, I really like this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Great post! I try to avoid Facebook for many of the reasons you cite. I’ve seen people I don’t really know post extremely personal stuff and I have no idea how to respond.

    Liked by 1 person

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