Dr. Smartass

Are We All a Bunch of Facebook Phonies?

Do people’s Facebook profiles actually match up with their real-world personalities? Dr. Smartass delves into the science of social network honesty.

By (@doctorsmartass)

December 14, 2009

Got a question for Dr. Smartass? E-mail doc [at] esarcasm.com.

Dr. SmartassThese days, my virtual patients, the world of social networking is as real as the world in which we walk. But how honest are our profiles when it comes to sites like Facebook?

From my inbox:

Dear Dr. Smartass,

My roommate and I decided to start trying to meet chicks on Facebook. He says we shouldn’t believe anything we see in a profile, because it’s all a bunch of exaggerated lies. What do you think?


Boy oh boy, Stevie-boy, do I ever have some good news for you. Facebook, it appears, really is everything it appears to be. Generally speaking, anyway.

My esteemed colleagues here at eSarcasm have already touched on the topic of spotting narcissism in a social network profile. Now, new research from the University of Texas further reinforces the idea that what we put online matches up with how we act offline.

The UT researchers had a couple hundred young adults fill out personality profiles. They then compared those answers to the traits depicted on the subjects’ Facebook pages, and — lo and behold — the qualities were the same.

“Is Facebook an opportunity to promote ourselves, a PR exercise? Or is it just another medium of social communication, like the telephone?” the lead scientist asks. “This research suggests the latter. Young adults are using it as a way to communicate and leaving lots of clues about what they’re really like.”

Facebook Phonies(Those “clues,” your dear doc believes, seem to suggest we’re all a bunch of self-centered farmers — don’t you think?)

Interpretations aside, the researchers did forget a few key points:

  • Just because her profile is honest doesn’t mean she isn’t a total Facebook knob. She probably is.
  • You may know what kind of personality she has, but you still have to know the rules of online dating if you want to poke anything other than her Facebook profile.
  • This study focused specifically on Facebook; the same finding does not necessarily apply to other social networks. On MySpace, for example, most of the hot-looking girls are actually 370-pound men. Trust me on this one.


The Internet changes the courtship dance;
It’s easier than ever to now get in her pants.
Believe what you read, but always keep track;
That “hot girl” online may be sporting a sac.

Until next time,

Dr. Smartass

(Cartoon courtesy LOLHome.com)

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