Will the real you please stand up?

Sep 12, 2012, 07:03 IST | Ruchika Kher

Everybody seems to be faking it. From profiles on social networking and matrimonial sites to job resumes, people seem to have no qualms projecting exaggerated claims and sharing untrue details. The Guide speaks to experts who delved deep into the psyche of such people and gave us the reasons behind this behaviour and ways to check it

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything,” famous author Mark Twain, had subtly emphasised, while speaking about the importance of honesty. But with the growing desire of looking like someone you are not and the frantic, almost inexplicable urge to please, people tend to go overboard and wear a mask, hiding the real them on various mediums.

From social networking sites like Facebook to matrimonial websites and even dating portals, people nowadays don’t hesitate from tweaking their details as long as it makes them look good and more in demand.

Make believe, you
“Essentially, you want people to believe something else about you. Somewhere down the line, you are trying to build an image of yourself, which is different from what you really are. Complex personalities, who do not accept themselves the way they are, do these things. They want to believe that they are someone else,” explains Dr Anjali Chhabria, psychologist, who has come across a host of such cases in her over two-decade career.

Chhabria reveals that what such people don’t realise is that they are not just lying to others; somewhere, they are also lying to themselves. “This is why when the balloon bursts, they get very affected because they want to believe the image that they have created,” she suggests.

Since most places do not offer the facility of a background check, most fake identities do not raise suspicion and don’t get caught. An employee with one of India’s most popular matrimonial sites shared that they go by the details that the client supplies them with, and no background check takes place. “We are not in a position to check background details of every client. Instead, a form is filled out and based on whatever details are shared in it, we post it on the online profile of the person,” she shares.

CV superstar
Fudging of details is not just restricted to social networking sites. The trend is quite rampant when it comes to job resumes as well. Corporate trainer Anita Shantaram takes us through the most common reasons of giving wrong details in resumes. “Whenever people do wrong, they imagine they can get away, scot-free. A similar psychology prompts people to write fake things on their resumes. This is basically a false sense of security,” explains the trainer.

She adds, “Usually, people lie when they have an unaccounted year or time frame in their resumes. They feel that that will lower their chance of getting a job and that will have a negative impact on their CV. So, they attempt to fudge such details. The intention is not always to cheat, but at times, it is to ensure that no bias is created against them.” However, Shantaram is quick to add that good intentions are not the case every time. Many change their details, simply to make a terrific impression, and because they want the job at all costs. Although most companies carry out background checks to check the credentials of the applicant, Shantaram feels that it’s integral to have multi-level checks to ensure that all details supplied are absolutely true.

“It is said that just an interview does not provide an accurate assessment of a candidate, so, it’s important to apply other techniques and means to get the right candidate for a job. Organisations should adopt a multiple-level recruitment process and multiple checks, going down to various levels to ensure that even if a person has the intent, he will be unable to hide his true details,” informs the trainer, who reveals that according to a survey, nowadays, one in seven resumes include some element of fudging. 

Case Studies
MARRYING THE FACELESS: “I knew a girl, who had come to me; she was completely shaken. She had been speaking to a boy on the Internet for several months. They got so close by talking online that they decided to tie the knot without even meeting each other. But when everything got confirmed and she met the boy, she realised that he is totally different from what he had portrayed to be, in terms of his behaviour and his looks. She was thoroughly disappointed. It had impacted her to such an extent that she decided never to get married to anyone. She had lost trust and became very depressed,” Dr Anjali Chhabria.

THE SPY GIRLFRIEND: “A friend of mine wanted to spy on her boyfriend. To do the same, she made a fake profile on Facebook and sent him a friend request to check whether he will accept or not. Once the guy accepted, she started speaking to him, pretending to be some other girl. It was shocking to know what people do,” says Ritu Handa, who is studying to be a chartered accountant.

Real to reel
Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge (2011) brought forward the story of two college students, who start talking to each other, portraying themselves as other personalities and use their friends’ Facebook accounts to chat with each other.

The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996), starring Uma Thurman, was the story of a successful veterinarian and radio show host with low self-esteem, who asks her model friend to impersonate her when a handsome man wants to see her.

Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (2002), saw Rani Mukerji, taking the name of her friend, Kareena Kapoor, to chat online with Hrithik Roshan, who she loves, making him believe that her friend (Kareena) is talking to him. What ensues is an interesting love triangle.

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