“Facebook can be depressing because everyone else’s lives are better than yours… But are they really?” director Shaun Higton wrote alongside the video.
Social media (in particular Facebook) tends to have a prismatic effect on our public lives, transforming the mundane into a bright and colourful display of wild parties, personal milestones and Disney visions of romance, filtering out all of the day’s boring moments when you were stuck in traffic, wondering around Tesco or aimlessly scrolling through the very social media feed you’re updating. It’s very easy to let people’s online exterior have a depressing effect on you, but it’s worth remembering just how much artifice and fabrication there often is to them. We are able to manipulate our “posts” so that we only show (and often exaggerate) the good or exciting parts of our day to day lives, often used as proof that something in our reality happened- if you didn’t upload it and show hundreds of people then obviously it wasn’t real right? Living in the moment seems to be old school nowadays.
One girl who took this a step further was 25 year old Dutch student Zilla van den Born. She put Photoshop to heroic use by inserting herself into images of stunning beaches and scenes of Buddhist monks and uploading them to Facebook to highlight how “we create an ideal world online which reality can no longer meet”. It seems nowadays that reality is almost defined by how much of it we share with others or use as bragging rights to confirm that what we have experienced was genuine. I love Born’s work and how she has manipulated not just the viewer, but her entire family and friends to prove just how warped peoples belief is that social media is the reality of all. I want to explore using Photoshop more in my work to help manipulate the story that I want my book to tell- not necessarily to the same extremes as this, but none the less a distortion of the truth and “the real”.
“Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality in our own lives as well. A picture is perhaps one of the most layered and contradictory objects that we can see around us. It represents the reality, but also falsehood. It is a fact, but also an opinion. It is technology, but also an art form.
My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media. What a picture really shows is not the exact situation as it really was, but what it represents. This ambiguous relationship with reality makes photography so fascinating to me. It raises questions about the representative power of pictures and reality itself.”