The bestselling novel 'Girl Online' from YouTube personality Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) was actually ghostwritten, much to the consternation of her fans when they found out.

Revealing ourselves (or not) on the internet

Text Summit Staff

The internet. We turn to it to assuage our insecurities as well as bolster our self-worth ... even if we can afford to hire someone to help build and maintain our social media cache.

Here's two posts for your consideration. The first from Marie Claire is subtitled "Ghostwriting for social media stars is the secret new Millennial It-career." Amanda Montell writes that as the definition of celebrity has broadened to include those who have made their name on YouTube et al, "even the intimate Instagram post has a staff behind it."

"Our Searches, Ourselves" from The Atlantic features an interview with a former data scientist at Google who shows how the terms and questions people type into search engines don't necessarily match what they claim on surveys.

Both posts share a common thread on our succumbing to pressure to exaggerate about ourselves on the internet, if only to grow our brand. In the Marie Claire article, a 27-year-old novelist says she has made her living ghostwriting books under social media stars' names. For instance, she fashioned a 300-page memoir based on the life of a teen Instagram star, inventing "breakups, arguments (and) entire family members" based solely on what was depicted on the teen's posts.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of the book Everybody Lies, says men and women lie about how frequently they have sex when comparing survey results with condom sales data. While surveys show that Americans claim to use a total of 1 billion-plus condoms a year, only 600 million of them are sold every year in the U.S. "They're exaggerating how frequently they use a condom," he says. "This doesn't mean that they are lying about how frequently they have sex. They may just be lying about how frequently they use protection when they do have sex, but if you look at how frequently American women of fertility age say they have sex without using any contraception, if they really were having that much unprotected sex, there would be more pregnancies every year in the United States.

"I think people put on a front, whether it's to friends or on social media, of having things together and being sure of themselves and confident and polished. But we're all anxious. We’re all neurotic," says Stephens-Davidowitz.


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