30 Times People Thought They Could Trick Everyone But Got Nominated For “Didn’t Happen Of The Year Awards” InsteadInterview
Let’s face it—people lie. Sometimes, they’re able to get away with it quite easily, too. But when they start spreading exaggerated stories on social media, the truth eventually comes out. After all, there’s always someone ready to call them out on their BS.
Enter the Didn’t Happen to the Year Awards (DHOTYA), a Twitter account that exposes and shames the most conspicuous lies shared on the internet. Each year, the most unbelievable tall tales are picked out and pitted against each other, with their 339K followers voting for the biggest liars on social media.
From kids having intellectual moments on politics to people receiving a standing ovation after announcing their opinion, we have collected some of the best posts this account has to offer. Continue scrolling, upvote the finest “didn’t happen” incidents, and share your thoughts in the comments below!
Bored Panda reached out to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a program coordinator of Master’s in Social Media and a lecturer at the University of Florida, to learn more about why people tell such far-fetched stories online. “Most individuals, brands, and influencers don’t really lie on social media, but they tend to exaggerate,” he told us.
“Everyone engages in self-image manipulation on social media. We highlight and promote our best moments while leaving out the bad or mundane,” Selepak added. “But for the individual user, scrolling through their timeline, it appears that everyone is always doing something exciting whether it is [going] on vacation, getting engaged, or having a child.”
Selepak explained that social media allows more people to see the lies and exaggerations others post. “Before social media, a person could tell a lie to another and then the exact opposite lie to someone else, and it is possible no one would know. But you cannot do this on social media because everyone you know finds out at once.”
“If anything, social media may actually limit the amount of outright lying people do anymore because anything they say or post can be refuted by any and all of their followers rather than by one person,” the lecturer said. “Instead, we may perceive people are lying more, not because more lying is occurring on social media, but because we can monitor potential lies from hundreds if not thousands of people at once.”
He noted that the great thing about having the internet in our hands is that collectively, we can expose lies and those who spread them more than ever before. When it comes to spotting these dishonest posts, Selepak mentioned there are two different types: lies and exaggerations.
When it comes to the latter one, most of us tend to blow up the facts on social media: “We post about a meal at a restaurant to show people we are out and take pictures of the food framing it in such a way to make it look more appetizing, or a photo of the restaurant itself to make it look fancier than it is.”
“We could also post to social media about a job promotion and how excited we are while leaving out that we will be working longer hours and have to spend more time away from friends and family,” he continued. “Exaggerations on social media, for the most part, are harmless and act as life updates to our friends and followers.”
Lies on social media are different. Andrew Selepak noted that they can be intentional or unintentional. Like when we see a story criticizing a politician or sports team we don’t like, we will probably share it because we want it to be true: “We aren’t the originator of the lie, but we are spreading it because we didn’t do our due diligence to fact check it first.”
Yet, this is not as bad as being the creator of a lie. “Politicians, internet trolls, and influencers spread lies about issues like COVID-19, their political party or the opposition, or and other major political issues, to manipulate the public.” These posts are dangerous because such people have a greater reach and thus their lies can be further spread by individuals who want to believe it’s true.
“This is how fake news spreads,” Selepak explained. “But it can be difficult to combat fake news because as individuals we often don’t have reach as influencers. We can debunk and dispute lies, but not as many people will see it, and some might be more willing to believe the lie than the truth.”
Disputing fabrications publicly also rarely works because “you could be attacked for being partisan” or doubting something others wants to believe to be true. “And no one likes to be called out publicly for lying. Instead, it is better to send a direct message or speak to someone offline about lies they are spreading, present accurate information, and hope they will take down their post or at least be less willing to share lies in the future.”
We are all impacted by dishonesty on social media. “When people, and especially young girls, see the fake body images presented on social media as the norm and forget that what they see on social media is not real, it impacts how they see their body, the bodies of others, and what they idealize as the beauty standard,” the lecturer explained. “This is unhealthy and can lead to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.”
While social media is full of dishonesty, “we cannot expect the platforms to remove all of this content, nor should we want them to. Social media should be a free speech space where ideas are debated and lies are publicly disputed,” Andrew Selepak said.
Dr. Cortney Warren told Bored Panda that when it comes to social media, people usually “lie by presenting an image of themselves and their lives that reflects what they wish were true.” A board-certified clinical psychologist, a nationally recognized expert in self-deception, and author of Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception thinks that the anonymity and lack of direct face-to-face interaction make it easier for people to pretend.
“You can essentially say whatever you want online—whether it’s objectively true or not—and not really have very serious consequences for it.” The professor of Psychiatry at the UNLV School of Medicine explained that this way people are “able to project an image or a statement without many of the nuances of non-verbal and interpersonal cues that indicate lying in person.”
She mentioned that in terms of spotting dishonesty, people should go into all online material with a critical thinking cap on. To evaluate whether a statement is true, people should ask questions. “First, consider the source—do they have a vested personal interest in presenting information a certain way? Then consider the perspective taken—are they able to articulate the other side of an argument? Also, look for self-deception. Are they in denial? Rationalizing? Projecting?”
“Although selective self-presentation and lying about ourselves on social media may not seem like a surprise (or even a big deal), it can affect us greatly,” Warren noted. “Humans are naturally social creatures—we crave relationships and social interaction. … We want to feel connected to people and “in the know” about our friends, family, and even celebrities. We crave connectedness. So, we want to interact with people and social media offers us one way to do that.”
We also tend to trust that others are being honest with us: “A large body of research suggests that we are programmed to trust others. Although the reasons for [this] are complex, without interpersonal connectedness and a fundamental belief that those around will support you, protect you, and treat you respectfully, we feel unsafe.”
So when people are dishonest on social media, it causes problems because we internally presume that what is presented is true. “That people are naturally as good-looking as their photos appear. … That people around us are in a habitual state of going on vacation, eating out, and parenting blissfully. This is clearly not true,” the psychologist explained.
“And although we are less aware of the realities of other people’s lives, we are well aware of the ways in which our own lives are NOT ideal,” Dr. Cortney Warren told us. When we compare ourselves with “the idealized images and unreasonably positive life accounts that tend to permeate social media, we are likely to feel more poorly about ourselves and our lives.”
We all lie—and on social media, this is rampant. “Often, people do it to try to project an image of what they wish were true. To make ourselves look more beautiful. Smarter. More successful. As though we have a more fun life!”
“Although lying to others is not something I would encourage you to do, the greater journey is to become fully honest with yourself,” Warren advised. “If you catch yourself in the act of lying, pause. Ask yourself why you are doing it. As you understand what’s motivating your lies, you can be more honest with yourself about who you want to be and how you want to act.”