Scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, it might seem like everyone is having the time of their lives, traveling to exotic places, eating exotic foods, and engaging in only the most exciting of activities. Not only that, but they look flawless while doing it. How is it that so many people are living fairy-tale lives? So much FOMO!
Last week, Carolyn Stritch—better known as @theslowtraveler—posted a series of photos showing her magical birthday celebration. She began snuggled in bed, looking #wokeuplikethis naturally radiant. Ready for adventure, she talked about taking a magic carpet and visiting castles.
Then, she whisked herself away and took an impromptu trip to Disneyland. Or did she? She hints at a bit of trickery in her caption: “Tomorrow I’ll be back home and it’ll be like it never even happened!”
It was all a “dream.” Turns out the blogger “hacked” her own Instagram to prove an important point. She followed up her fairy-tale snaps with a blog post explaining exactly why, acknowledging that we all want to show the “best bits of your daily lives.”
We’re all guilty of it. I post pristine pictures from faraway places long after I’ve returned to my regular routine. Panoramas from the Napa Valley are definitely prettier than the view from inside my office, no matter how good the light is.
However, there’s a line between sharing the best and an outright false reality. With her experiment, Stritch aimed to better understand that line as it relates to her own work as a photographer, blogger and influencer on Instagram, and to help others do so, too.
This is the only time the blogger has posted a faux photo. “To be clear: all images I posted prior to this project are really me, really in those places,” she begins in her blog post, explaining her experiment.
A few sentiments in her explanatory post really stood out to me:
“When I swipe back to the real image, the flaws seem far more prominent than when I first took the selfie,” Stritch says. Now that we all have access to instant airbrushing and “perfected” selfies, are we that much more conscious and aware of so-called flaws? If we didn’t have the airbrushed version, would we even see the flaws in the first place?
She challenges the idea of the perfect self from Will Storr’s “Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing To Us.” “We are supposed to be slim, prosperous, happy, extroverted and popular,” she summarizes. Clearly that’s impossible, yet on social media the impossible is just a few clicks away, and many people seem to achieve it every day.
Real Life Influence
“I wanted my fictional narrative to challenge the way I portray myself online and the effects of this portrayal,” Stritch says. Her experiment serves as a good reminder for all of us to think about how we portray ourselves online and how that may influence other people, both positively and negatively. The photos and captions go online, but that content has real-world effects on anyone who sees them. We may never know the feelings a single photo instills in someone on the other side of the screen.
If her experiment resonates with you, you can get involved and help make a difference right now. Stritch set up a JustGiving page. Donations will go toward YoungMinds, which is an organization “committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.”
What do you think of her photo experiment and fairy-tale trip?