Hashtag, No Filter.
Spoiler: neither of these photos look like I did that day. And trust me, I could have made one MUCH more aesthetically pleasing, and the other one, oh I could have made it MUCH much worse.
Both of these filtered photos took no more than two minutes to tamper with on my phone. The first one I ran through a Photoshop app which automatically smooths out the lines on my face and adds a more “glowing complex” and the other one, the oompa loompa, is the result of the weird “structure” tool Instagram (which does nothing but add wrinkles you didn’t know existed) and I pumped up that saturation.
It’s so easy to not look like yourself these days. With a flick of a button I no longer look like the person in front of the camera. I have nothing against photo-editing tools, but I am against the idea of people these days spending more time staring at their phones editing pieces of own their face than actually LOOKING at their face in the mirror and taking care of it. It worries me; the idea that it doesn’t matter what our actual skin looks like because we can just edit it out. We can cover up so many things. It’s so easy. Editing tools are like having the best most expensive LA facialists on call 24/7. Like botox (so I’ve heard) I’m sure editing is just as addictive.
Could we get to the point where we are so addicted to editing the tiniest like strand of our hair for an Instagram photo that we don’t worry about nightly moisturiser or taking off all our make-up because, hey, we can just filter out those dark circles in 5-4-3-2-1…..
Because of course IRL still matters, but our validation comes through our phones.
Ping! You have a new “like”.
Someone “likes” your face.
People write about the curse of “Instagram Jealousy” but I can honestly say I just zone out to this now. I don’t get jealous of these Inspirational Instagrammers because I can tell the amount of effort that goes into doctoring the photo, like a game of Operation, carefully moving things around. I’m sure some photos are genuinely capturing a perfect lovely moment, but I’d rather go and capture my own lovely moment than give puppy-dog-eyes to a stranger’s life. I’m not being smug: I’m just saying I’d prefer to have the full story before I start to fantasise about someone else’s perfect life. I’m not going to dream up a reality from a tiny little snippety photo. I don’t buy into a lifestyle, unless I know the person. I don’t expect anyone to buy into mine. Maybe because I feel there’s nothing to buy into. But that’s because I’ve always found imperfection 100 times more interesting.
As a teen, I used to find those Abercrombie & Fitch models so creepy – those ones that used to hang around outside the stores trying welcoming you in. WHY ARE YOU A ROBOT MAN TRYING TO HUG ME.
“Buy into our lifestyle”, they’d say, without moving their faces.
Inspirational Instagrammers remind me of these sculpted creepy Abercrombie Models. I scroll through, liking my mate’s photos, and liking things that look pretty. Normally food. But really I just think: Look, I’m REALLY glad your burger looks so JUICY but I cannot eat it myself through my phone, so I don’t actually care! Sozzles! Enjoy though! I like Instagram, the layout, the way you can endlessly scroll, I love selfies of people I know because it’s like they’re saying a little “hello” with their face. But, I love looking at my own Instagram feed the most. And who doesn’t? This is mainly because it’s my own memories with the pictures prompting bigger reflections of all the stuff that went on behind the photo, all the stuff that cannot be captured in a still image. Our personal social feeds feed us. They are for are own emotions and viewing pleasure. I like looking back on my holiday photos, but honestly, fair play if you’re not that fussed about my European city break. Just like with your own family sunset photos, it’s a kind of “you had to be there thing.” Really, deep down, it’s just for us and anyone who wants to stumble across it.
We are free to share whatever the hell they want to, and what a joy it is. But I’m just saying, it’s OK to take these “aspirational” or “thinspirational” (or whatever they are called) Instagram accounts with a pinch of salt.
Because: who actually knows. You had to be there.
And ironically I bet the imperfect stuff behind the scenes was actually much more interesting than the photo.
How I Grew Up Online
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic