Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Facebook vs. Google: The Battle of Self Projection versus Who We Really Are

Is your Facebook wall more of a façade? Data shows that people are brutally honest with Google, but that Facebook is a pack of shameless lies.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz: Google, I think, is a revolutionary data set. I call it digital truth serum because people are so honest to it and they confess things that they might not confess to anybody else to that little white box on a search engine. Facebook is different. Facebook is digital 'brag to my friends about how good my life is' serum, where people try to make themselves look good on Facebook.

So if you compare two magazines, The Atlantic Monthly and the National Enquirer; The Atlantic Monthly is kind of an intellectual, highbrow magazine, with poetry and philosophy and political theory. And the National Enquirer is a lowbrow trashy magazine, with celebrity gossip and rumors and stuff like that. And on average the National Enquirer sells more copies than The Atlantic Monthly, but on Facebook The Atlantic Monthly is 45 times more popular than the National Enquirer because everybody wants their friends to think they’re reading The Atlantic Monthly. They don’t want their friends to think they’re reading the National Enquirer which makes them seem less impressive. And people exaggerate their financial situation. Circus Circus, a budget hotel in Las Vegas, holds about the same number of people as the Bellagio, a luxurious hotel in Vegas. But people are about three times more likely to check-in to the Bellagio than Circus Circus.

So I think on Facebook you get bombarded with these images: Oh, all my friends are staying at the Bellagio. Well, you know, about the same number of them are saying at Circus Circus, they may just not be posting that on Facebook. And I think it’s interesting to compare these two sources, Facebook and Google: Facebook where you’re showing off to your friends, Google where you’re just getting the information you need.

So one of the comparisons I talk about in the book is the ways people describe their husbands on the two sources. The top ways people complete the phrase 'My husband is...' on Facebook is: my husband is the best, my best friend, amazing, so cute and awesome. And on Google the top ways people describe their husband—also one of them is 'awesome' so that checks out—but the other ones are: a jerk, gay, so mean and annoying. So that’s kind of the difference between what people are saying when they’re trying to impress their friends and what people are saying when they’re trying to get information, and maybe being, I think, more honest. Alcoholics Anonymous has this phrase: don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides. And I think the 21st-century big-data version of that would be: don’t compare your Google searches to other people’s Facebook posts.

To know who someone really is, don't look at their Facebook wall—look at their Google Search data. This is off-limits information to most people (definitely for the best), but data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has analyzed what's behind that curtain. His findings echo what you may intuitively feel: skepticism over how incredible everyone's life looks on Facebook, compared to your own. He cautions people not to compare yourself to that rosy standard for a pretty simple reason: it's a bundle of lies and exaggerations. Facebook presents who we want to be, but Google Search knows who we really are. Davidowitz calls it a "revolutionary truth serum", one that reveals that on Facebook husbands are described as "amazing" and "so cute", but in the confessional booth of Google Search, they are "gay" "jerks". Ouch. What it boils down to is that bragging is lying, but searching for knowledge is truthful. That, and that Facebook and Google might be the best social experiments ever designed. Stephens-Davidowitz is the author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are.


Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

Bubonic plague case reported in China

Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.

(Photo by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Getty Images)
Coronavirus
  • The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
  • Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
  • Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Keep reading Show less

Education vs. learning: How semantics can trigger a mind shift

The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.

Future of Learning
  • The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
  • Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
  • Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Keep reading Show less

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less

Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast