THE BLOG

Caught In The Trap Of The Facebook Filter

12/01/2017 15:44

There was a time when glamour magazines were at the forefront of the news for being considered a thing of concern, and photoshopped images and unrealistic ideals were rallied against for the negative connotations created with respect to the representation of women. This, in turn, led to links between comparisons of such images and depression. A lot more awareness has come about since then, although I would argue that these unrealistic images are still present on our shelves. Something else has recently caught my attention, the 'Facebook filter'. Arguably it's one thing to have unrealistic images of models, nameless almost intangible beings presented to us on billboards, but Facebook posts of friends and family with whom we mix and relate, apparently making for a more realistic comparison with our lives, for me is far more worrying. Mostly because these perceived Facebook lives differ greatly from the ones actually being lived.

To be fair this isn't just limited to Facebook. However, time and time again we see carefully constructed images and updates depicting one's perfect life posted for friends to see. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sharing photos and witty quotes with loved ones, but it's important to remember that such posts only tell half the story. You only ever see what people want you to see. I know this because I have fallen victim to the 'Facebook filter' on both sides. Taking family perfect snaps on a picturesque day out at the beach or in the park and posting for friends to like. What these don't show though is the tantrum my daughter had 10 minutes before the photo was taken and the shouting match that then ensued. Perhaps it's a glamourised shot of your latest home improvement or a recent purchase, again neglecting to show the months of hard work and stress that went on 'behind the scenes' to get to the end result. Which could be one reason why I have heard Facebook being referred to as 'Bragbook'.

It's a vicious circle because these unrealistic ideals don't seem so unrealistic because it's not a nameless person staring back at you, but a person whom you know. It's 'real,' when in fact these perfect lives are arguably carefully constructed manifests of a life one would like to be seen living, leaving those who witness it wondering where they are going wrong. This was highlighted in the article "Seeing everyone else's' highlight reel: How Facebook usage is linked to depressive symptoms", when in 2014 Mai-Ly Steer researched and proved a link between the usage of Facebook and depression. It's human nature to compare ourselves with others. Indeed, social comparison theory notes that we are constantly evaluating ourselves with those around us to help find our place in society. However, by comparing ourselves with idealised Facebook posts I feel is no different to comparing oneself to the front cover of the latest glamour magazine. Not to say that this is Facebook's fault because it's not, people use comparisons to form a frame of reference. Facebook along with other such social media platforms lends itself as a magazine cover to portray one's life and just as you can deconstruct carefully edited images of models to find the real person below, the savvy Facebook user can equally strip away these perfectly constructed posts to find the real life underneath.

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