The Era Of Fake - Social Media, Photoshop and FaceTune.
We have entered an unprecedented time in our society, where social media rules our lives and we are constantly being bombarded with lies, manipulation and advertising.
Dr. Erin Vogel, a postdoc in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, says "a lot of my research is based on this idea that people present selectively positive versions of themselves in social media — they’re talking more about the better aspect of their lives and making themselves seem like they’re having this great life, which can then lead other people to feel worse about themselves as a result.”
This point brings us to the core of my article today. We have put these social media "influencers" on a pedestal and given them fame, when all they have contributed to our society is the glorification of a luxurious, vapid life that is nothing but a lie. A lie that mega corporations want us to get hooked on, so we spend more money. We let our kids, the future generations of the humanity, sit in front of these screens with minimal supervision, while they take in lie after lie about how they need to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and behave exactly this way to make it to the top.
Today I would like to focus solely on shameless photo editing, and the disturbing normalization of plastic surgery. Variations of photo editing have been around since the first photograph, this much is true. Our obsession with the "prefect human" has been ever changing since our conception. This is bound to happen due to human ego. In my opinion though, it has evolved into something very damaging...
What was once done as almost harmless advertising - slight touch ups on small blemishes and bags under your eyes - has evolved into something bigger and much more sinister. With the advance of technology, people have the ability to do what Photoshop does right in the palm of their hands. With apps like FaceTune entering our world, this allows your average Joe to edit themselves into caricatures and fool our youth. The deeper down the rabbit hole I go, the more worried I am about younger people being negatively affected by this. I personally know 20 year olds who have started to get Botox because they have been led to believe "you have to start young to avoid the wrinkles"
That beautiful woman in the red dress photoshopped herself to look like the alien on the right. She has millions of followers, and a large % of those are very young women. It would be one thing if it was just harmless touch ups, but it's another thing all together when "online influencers" are portraying themselves in such a bizarrely unhealthy way, and bold faced lying about it. Imagine growing up in a world that constantly shows you that you need to be skinnier but also thicker, smoother, more tanned. Our youth can not separate fiction from reality, that is why advertising to children is illegal. But is it really anymore? With Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok in the hands of most children, they are being bombarded with content that is heavily influencing them in ways we don't fully understand yet.
The Kardashians/Jenners are the perfect example of what happens when you grow up being influenced by this and how it becomes a vicious evolving cycle of madness. They are constantly claiming they have never had plastic surgery, that they do not edit their pictures, are living breathing brands that are selling a fake world to children.
This is ridiculous. How could you possibly make the conscious decision to completely alter who you physically are and then claim that "it was just puberty" to your millions of 12 year old fans? All this is going to do is create generations of insecure human beings who feel like they are not worthy, because the look nothing whatever the hollywood machine current trends portray. Then what are they going to do? Run out and get plastic surgery the moment they can, to try and embody what social media is telling them real beauty is. Kylie is 21 going on 50 due to the insane amount of surgery she has had done. Fame was given to her merely because she comes from money, and now gets built up as if she is some genius self-made business woman, portrayed to the masses as someone we should all aspire to be. All this has done is create a downward spiral into the world of the material, hyper-consumption, anxiety and depression.
They aren't even as bad as it's going to get...
All of these women are already naturally beautiful and unique. Then they get plastic surgery to try and force their bodies into something they were never intended to be. And then they still struggle with their own self imagine and Photoshop themselves further into oblivion. The fact that these same women are infamous just because of this is fucking terrifying. There is a small group of people on the web already pointing this stuff out. A great example is one of my favorite content creators on YouTube, NerdCity. They did an experiment with his girlfriend, they followed all of the trends of your typical Instagram "fitness model". Got the fancy bright work out clothing, went to all of the exotic locations, popped that booty for the photos and then enlarged it in Photoshop, before posting online. 35 posts, and a little bit of marketing later, she has 50,000 new followers. All she did was put on bright clothes and act like she was living a fit, luxurious life. Her user was even "NickyTryHard" - that is how easy it is to used trends on social media to turn yourself into a brand. Well, she's also smokin' hot so that helps.
We can keep pretending that this behavior has zero consequences, pretend that it is harmless. Or we can actually take a deeper look at what this is doing to our society, especially as technology progresses more everyday. The fact that we have given so much fame to these insipid humans has now encouraged them to turn their own children into marketing vehicles that they can use to gain more fame and suck in other children to sell more product. We officially live in a society where parents are photoshopping their own kids to have bigger butts and smaller waists. Can you please take a step back for a second, try to understand how mentally damaging it must be to grow up in an environment where "perfection" and unrealistic beauty standards are pushed on you at that level? At that age? By your own parents?
We already know that becoming a child star in Hollywood destroys people. We've seen time and time again what fame, and stupid amounts of money, does to people. How lonely and depressed it makes us. Yet we are now heading in a direction where a large percentage of people want to use their own children to try and bring them more money. Even abuse them for YouTube fame. We should be celebrating our differences, our flaws, and everything it means to be human - not smoothing the skin of a 6 month old baby. I do not like the direction our society is headed, and it has been headed this way for a long time due to peoples apathy. Our inability to self-reflect and examine our own flaws, which in turn prevents actual progress. We all pretend like nothing matters, that no changes can be made to really fix anything and because of this nothing happens. We are lying to ourselves.
This is the same woman, just a couple years apart... This discussion needs to keep being had as it ties in to so many other problems in our society, the big one being Education. Suicide rates are up 30% and there are 5 times as many overdoses on prescription medication, since 1999, People are depressed, people are broke and life seems resemble a fucking BlackMirror episode more and more everyday. The kicker? No one really cares. Something is wrong deep in our psyche if we feel the need to edit ourselves this way. We love ourselves less and less, and if people are talking about this I sure can't hear it. There is too much crap floating around out there drowning out anything with real substance.
I edited this photo of myself using my phone only, which as a photographer who has spent years learning the tricks and tools in Photoshop, freaks me out. An everyday person has the ability to completely change their body type with the swipe of a finger. This does not seem harmless to me. All I see coming from this is more unhappiness in the longer term, and an entire generation, our future, having ridiculous physical expectations of themselves and each other.
There was nothing wrong with the original, unedited photo. That is the trend I keep seeing. Normal, beautiful, uniquely human beings - editing themselves to look like a bunch of aliens without organs. We need to stop making people famous for no reason...all it does is spread more idiocy. Wouldn't you rather live in a world where people didn't think "if only my butt was a little bit bigger..." but instead thought "what can I do to learn something new?" or "how can I be a better human?"
We need to learn to love ourselves, flaws and all... Stay tuned for my YouTube video about this topic.