Here is the second in our series of monthly chats where we have a poke at some insights being reported as facts.
What do you say to people when they ask how your weekend was? According to this research, a quarter of Brits lie about their days off so instead of saying what they’ve really done (been boring, slept, caught up on admin) they say they’ve been doing wildly exciting social and enjoyable things.
Research findings like this are constantly being pumped out by the PR industry as a hook for generating some news. This was conducted for Travelodge who have a talent for generating this kind of fluff (eg. a quarter of men take a teddy with them when they are travelling, we’re losing sleep because of our addiction to social networking) and what is apparently the fifth biggest lie? Taking a mini-break. Typical of this kind of press, there’s a quote from ‘a top UK psychologist‘ who uses this survey finding to identify a new psychological condition: ‘weekendvy’. That’s catchy, but there are at least 100 psychological conditions, all the result of thorough peer-reviewed research.
Many of us may well be gilding our weekend lillies but is it envy? According to the Mail it is to impress others, Cosmo say it’s to make us cool and sexy while the Independent has a more insightful if bleak thought from Furedi who says it is about not acknowledging our essential loneliness and isolation, and a reluctance to admit that our lives are not moving in line with our aspirations. If we are to do anything with a finding like this, we need to know why.
From a social media perspective, are social networking updates overly sunny? Can we trust what people publish online? We need to be sceptical rather than taking their comments at face value. If we know what is motivating updates we can place their comments in context.
A final thought, based on some rather more solid research from Stanford University. Happy posts may make the rest of less happy. Happiness, like a sense of wealth, is relative. Encouraging greater honesty at an individual level to say when things aren’t great may paradoxically make us all happier.