Duck Syndrome & Social Media: Are you really Happy?

duck syndrome

Did you notice people’s perfect lives on social media? In their social media life, everyone is happy, everyone is booming, and everyone is travelling. When you’re sitting on the sofa at home and browsing social media, you see people sharing moments when they feel happy and think they are successful. But are people really what they appear to be on social media? Is everyone happy? Is everyone successful?

Consider a woman or a man. How do they feel when she is separated or abandoned by their lover or spouse? You often see these people hanging out in nightclubs and bars, going to the gym, having dinner with friends in cafes and having fun. These people break up with their lovers and try to give the image of being both happy and strong. So what’s behind this image? Do you know how these people feel when they go home at night and are alone?

Stanford University has defined Duck Syndrome as it is seen that people are successful and happy without any effort when other people look after them despite their inadequacy. 

Duck syndrome, which Stanford University first put forward, was used to express the state of appearing calm from the outside while trying to suppress themselves in situations such as boredom, depression and anxiety. 

duck syndrome on social media

Duck syndrome is people pretending to have achieved their desired emotions and success without effort. For example, you must have seen ducks swimming calmly on the water without any action. However, ducks, which move effortlessly on the water, make great efforts with their feet to move in the underwater part. For this reason, Duck Syndrome is used for situations that seem perfect from the outside but are not actually what they seem.

The basis of the study is Goffman’s Spreading Impression Theory. According to Goffman, daily life is more real and performances produced without proof are whole. People constantly review their performances in the face of their experiences and idealize and aestheticize their performances to impress the audience.

According to Adrian Gostick, author of Anxiety at Work: “Ironically, the highest-performing people are sometimes those having the toughest times. They’re perfectionists, they have imposter syndrome, and they have anxiety. Meanwhile, everyone around them assumes they’re doing great and just fine, so they don’t offer the support they might need.”

With the impression of success without struggle and effort, they post carefully selected, filtered images from their social media accounts to show their own lives in a way they want others to know. But unfortunately, with the widespread use of social media, more and more people are creating fake profiles. As a result, people lose their sense of reality.

Social media likes

On social media, even if you feel good about the number of likes you receive for your posts, you can hide your worries and concerns from yourself and others. At the same time, your posts can negatively affect your followers, causing them to ask themselves questions such as “am I just a failure or is my life bad?” Even though the posts made by social media users and the profile they reflect aim for perfection, the problems they experience and the troubles in their lives are in the invisible part of the water.


Fadus, C.M. (2018) Duck Syndrome, Social Media, and Struggling Together

Görsoy Atar, Ö & Gürsoy Atar Ş. (2020) Duck Syndrome is Social Media: An Assessment Through Instagram

LearnBetterAline, The Duck Syndrome Isn’t Just a Student Probelm, It’s Affecting Your Workforce Too

Safai, Y. & Moore, M. (2022) Understanding Duck Syndrome

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