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Can You Fake It?
When I was hanging out with my boyfriend one day, I saw that one of my friends had posted a picture with her boyfriend. I said to him, “I wonder why some people post more with their boyfriend than others.” It made me inquire what a couple’s social media says about their relationship. When given the opportunity to look further into these inquiries, I went in with prior implications of what my analysis would show. However, when I looked into a couple’s percentages of posts with their significant others, the progression of the couple’s photos, and the percentage of selfies together, the major conclusion that I came to was that you cannot fake a good relationship on social media.
The first aspect of social media that I analyzed was the amount of posts with one’s significant other. My prediction was that the girls would always post more than the guys because social media is more important to girls than guys. I found the opposite. It seemed that percentage wise, boys typically had a higher percentage of posts with their girlfriends than girls did. Why? Because girls post enough pictures of the sunset, apple picking, and Lapham Peak to balance out the posts with their boyfriends. Boys, who have about 20 pictures, don’t care to post as much. They all have the photo of them holding a fish from 8th grade, some sports photos, but a higher percentage with their girlfriend. Guys figure that their girlfriend will get angry or over-think if they don’t post a picture for their anniversary, so they just do it to please their girlfriend not because they actually care about what their social media looks like. I figured then if it was the girl with the higher percentage of posts, it reflected a bad relationship. It means that the boy has enough control over her to tell her not to be upset about him neglecting their anniversary, or it means that the girl is far more infatuated with the boy than he is with her. Both scenarios do not reflect positively on the couple.
While it is hard to quantify the progression of photos on one’s Instagram, I made observations about whether posts together appeared natural or rigid. Almost everyone’s first picture together on social media is of them standing and smiling with a corny caption. This is understandable. Things are still weird and awkward and it is better to play it safe. However, after this initial awkwardness, pictures should even out and become less forced as the relationship becomes more comfortable and familiar. The exceptions where the first picture was natural seemed to have more natural photos overall. There were several cases where photos maintained their rigidity. These couples appear to be fake and posed. I feel that natural photos cannot be forced, so looking at the progression of a couple’s photos is emphatic of the type of relationship they really have.
The idea of the selfie has been slightly tarnished in that they are made fun of by many. However, I found that selfies had an importance in a couple’s social media posts. Selfies don’t need someone else to take them. They are convenient and in the moment, often times without any special background. That’s why they reflect so positively on couples. If a couple posts a lot of selfies, it means they aren’t taking the time grab a passerby person, pose, fix their hair, or fake a smile. When a couple takes a selfie, it means that they are more in the moment and don’t necessarily care about the background of where they are. They don’t need to make a spectacle of themselves. This ties into how natural posts are. Couples taking selfies aren’t just taking the photo to post on social media, more so to commemorate an event or time spent together. It is positive when couples post a higher percentage of selfies.
Now that general conclusions have been made, the proof is in the pudding. To develop these concepts, I looked at five couples that I know well in order to judge the accuracy of their social media to their actual relationship. They have been labeled as couples 1-5 in order to maintain anonymity.
Couple number one has been dating around 18 months. They show moderate PDA at school and spend a lot of time together. 10.8% of the Girl 1’s posts are with her boyfriend, whereas 55% of her boyfriend’s posts are with her. 43% of their combined posts were selfies. I found this couple to be very solid. The boy fits the standard of posting more than the girl. Pictures clearly become more natural over time as the relationship developed. Interestingly, the first photo the boy posted of her was actually a video in which both of them are laughing and having a good time. I believe all of these reflect positively on their relationship.
Couple number two has been dating a little over 18 months. They show minimal PDA at school and don’t spend as much time together. 14% of Girl 2’s posts are with her boyfriend and 32% of Boy 2’s posts are with her. This fits the mold that boys should post more than the girl. However, their progression of photos is monotonous. The first photos on both accounts are standing and smiling, and they do not change very much. Pictures remain stiff and forced which leads viewers to believe that the photos and even the relationship are staged. The couple isn’t really happy. They only had 10.2% selfies, which is low. These all reflect that they post for show and don’t actually have a good relationship. I know this couple personally and this is an accurate reflection. They argue a lot and have fidelity issues. With this information, it is even more apparent that their social medias are phony because who would post a photo with someone who cheats on them?
Couple number 3 used to have a good relationship, but then it deteriorated and fizzled out. The boy posted more which is good. Their photos started out really natural and over time became more rigid and posed. They had a selfie percentage of 27.8%, which I think is high enough to argue that there once was a good relationship. Unfortunately, couple number 3 is now broken up, but it is interesting to see in their social media that their relationship was getting worse through their photo progression.
The fourth couple was interesting. Girl 4 had a higher percentage of posts with Boy 4 than he did with her. They exemplify the argument of the boy having enough control in order to tell her not to be mad about social media. At the same time, because I know them as a couple, I know that she is much more into him than he is her. This shows in their Instagrams. All of their pictures were forced, posed, smiling photos. There were also NO selfies. This was the biggest indicator of a false relationship in this instance to me. It is very apparent that this relationship is one sided.
The fifth and final couple had about equal percentage of posts. When I looked, Boy 5 had only a few less pictures than the girl, which means he cares more about his social media and evened out their percentages. Also what was interesting about this couple was that the girl’s photos were stiff, but the boy’s photos were natural. I found this to be another indicator of a one sided relationship, in this instance it is heavier on the boy’s end though. Some of their photos were posed to be natural. Their selfie percentage was low, only 8%. From this I concluded that a lot of their social media posts were for show. Couple 5 has also broken up.
From my explorations, I have concluded that it is impossible to fake a good relationship on social media. In the end, the truths of your relationship will be apparent in the amount of posts on both sides, the progression of the photos posted, and the amount of selfies posted. I never realized how much you could tell about people from their social medias and how fake the whole concept of social media is. Now that I have found these key components, and you now know them too, I hope you will look further into what you see online in order to tell what 1000 words a photo is REALLY saying.