Fake perfection: the negative effect of Instagram on individuals

Did you catch the viral news story on Instagram photo fraud last week? Just to recap, Carly Sosnowski tweeted out a photo of her sister’s recent Instagram photo on August 3rd. She showed that her sister, Casey Sosnowski, had faked a hiking trip post by going into their backyard to take a quick photo for her feed [referenced below].

Carly Sosnowski’s post versus the reality of the photo

This is not the first time something like this has happened before. A lifestyle blogger, Scarlett London, went under fire last August because she faked a photo of her morning breakfast- a stack of decadent Swedish-style pancakes. Or in this case, conveniently placed tortillas to give the illusion of pancakes.

Comments quickly started to pour in that bashed her for trying to fake a “perfect lifestyle.” Many users complained that her post was causing issues for self-image and FOMO, the fear of missing out on what others are enjoying.

This would be hard to contest as we see this beautiful woman with flawless makeup, hair perfectly styled as if she just left a blowout bar, matching, unwrinkled pajamas (that coordinate with her bed and balloons), made bed complete with balloon bouquets that probably cost close to $100, pedicured feet, and even her flamingo mug matches her wall decor.

Don’t feel badly if your mornings don’t start off the same way.

Instagram influencers exposed in how they pay to have their photo appear in a stunning way that is not at all reality. [Photo Credit Indy100]

These comments are not wrong. Many people on social media platforms find themselves trying to fake their online image, from a slight filter to a complete photoshop job of the entire photo. Many people have started to agree that Instagram may not be the best for its user’s mental health.

Image result for social media effect on mental health
Photo Credit: Sanctus
Image result for social media effect on mental health
Photo Credit: National Education Association

In a 2017 study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), a survey was done on the effects of the top five social media platforms: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Instagram was voted with the most negative effects on its users. Some of those effects include FOMO, self-identity, body image, and depression.

“It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH

So the question is, why do so many people strive to have this fake perfection online? From what I have seen, it is to seek approval from their peers to feel a sense of self worth. In today’s terms, self worth is equivalent to the number of likes that the user is receiving, and the only way to get likes is to post whatever everyone else is posting, but better.

I tested out own deceiving Instagram photos with these recommended “photo hacks”

It seems to be easy to fake a perfect lifestyle as many influencers online have shown. That is why I decided to put one of these “Instagram hacks” to the test to see how easy is it really to convince people you are living the best life.

One of them was a hack by 5-Minute Crafts to make it appear that you are on the beach, even if you are not. This one involved the photographer to hold up two hot dogs next to an image of a beach on a computer. With some clever cropping, the user is left with a photo of two “legs” next to a beach front.

5-Minute Crafts attempt at the beach hack. [Photo Credit: 5 Minute Crafts]
My personal attempt, but instead of hot dogs I used my fingers instead.

Mine, however, did not end up looking as good as 5-Minute Crafts’s photo, but it did the trick. At a quick glance, someone might have not even have realized that those were not my legs at the beach, but my fingers in front of a screen photo. And after asking a few of my peers, they seemed to agree with my statement.

All though 5-Minute Crafts’ hack was not the greatest, it still shows what people will do to get the “perfect photo.” This is exactly why we should not be investing value into something that is superficial and made-up like Instagram.

So next time you are scrolling through your feed, do not forget that what you are seeing is not 100% real. Or if you would rather live your life without seeing these staged photos and feeling a sense of disappointment in yourself, you might be better off disconnecting.

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