Last year, Amelia Liana went viral for all the wrong reasons. She had been “exposed.” Her idealistic instagram life caught wind of the wrong attention and in a social media shit storm, her pink skies with flocks of birds and idyllic people-less settings were all exposed as a lie. This is not what real life looked like but it didn’t matter, instead of losing followers, she gained and still gets thousands of likes on each picture she posts today.
I’m always interested to see which images are trending on instagram. It’s always these super fake, heavily edited type shots that seem to get the most likes, engagement and traction. I say ‘super fake‘ because even these top influencers have started sharing their before and after photos in their instagram stories. “Wow,” I think to myself, “Their before is exactly what mine looks like, minus the Lightroom CC editing.” Ok, so I’ve got it half right.
I came across a photo a few months ago on instagram’s trending page that had an asteroid in the blogger’s abyss, “Wow,” I thought to myself, “What perfect timing to capture such a special moment..” Of course, I’m being sarcastic but with over 12,000 likes, who’s really laughing? Then another in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background and complete constellation surrounding it. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “She managed to get that shot, despite the light pollution levels in Paris making it merely impossible to capture a single star in the sky…” Whatever, the picture is trending and people are liking it.
Likes and engagement determine your value on Instagram, her fake constellation in Paris is worth money now. More eyeballs mean more Gucci bags.
Then those images that seem to capture the perfect flock of birds in the sunset which you can clearly find exact copies of here, or when you type ‘flock of birds png‘ into Google. Then you see comments like “perfect shot,” or “I really admire your photography,” that are most likely bots or part of comment pods anyway.
Is anything real on instagram anymore? Oh Yeah, those darker, lesser staged images that don’t trend because they don’t get as many likes.
I recently watched a video by Aggie Lal of In Her Shoes, on how she edits her photos for instagram. Kudos to her, she grows over 40,000 followers a month and has over 10 million impressions a week, yes a week- with just under 500k followers! The effort she puts into her instagram is evident, from the editing to the captions, her audience is fully engaged and she’s a great story teller, quite entertaining too. The video goes into full detail on everything she changes just for the gram and it’s intense. Some people argue that the original was already good enough and didn’t require so many “touch ups.“
Ten Million impressions a week, that’s all I’m saying.
*EDIT Aggie Lal has recently being accused of scamming her followers into buying a pyramid scheme style course providing no value and also accused of buying followers. Read more here.*
How far is too far? Where do we begin to draw the line? And how far does someone need to go before we say, “Hey, this is false advertising.” While social media is still a fairly new and unregulated medium in most countries, we as the “followers” are the only ones with the power and each like is another merit point, towards another fake filtered photo.
I promised myself that in 2018 I would focus more on instagram and curating great images throughout my travels. I live in Croatia, the most beautiful country in the world, one that doesn’t need a filter and still thankfully hasn’t been insta-raped by the instagram mafia.
But then again, do cities like Paris, Santorini, Barcelona or even the Maldives need all the editing and filters that they receive on instagram?
I’m very divided by instagram. As much as I “show up,” I have long periods where I don’t. This doesn’t mean I don’t have pictures, I have thousands but in order for them to really trend, I’d need to strip away their reality and replace it with a filter of falseness. Just like being fake in real life, fake on instagram is exhausting but fake is the only thing that works on that medium.
As I mentioned earlier, many larger influencers have started to show their before and after shots in their instagram stories, many selling their presets for profit. A preset is their personal filter that they have created for their feeds. See the picture below of Pilot Madeline. Then find this exact location under places on Instagram and compare her images to everyone else who has visited Aqua Dome in Austria.
Their before shots are exactly the way you take your photos on whatever you use, phone or camera. There is nothing great about the original shot in most cases, but the way it is edited to look afterwards is very interesting. Some of these instagram feeds literally look like editorials from magazines. Imagine shooting an editorial every single day of your life, ten points to Tamara too while we are here. Don’t get me wrong, I get it that this is their job now but an editorial isn’t reality, both in print and digital.
(Before & After shots of Pilot Madeline at Aqua Dome Wellness)
I have found over the past few months that I use social media less and less. It’s got nothing to do with whatever just crossed your mind first. The truth is, I found love and someone to share some of the most special moments of my life with, my ride or die. As each day goes by, I find myself less inclined to look or post on instagram, I just don’t want to touch my phone. For the first time in 10 years, I miss calls and don’t respond to messages or emails right away.
I don’t want to see other people’s lives and I’m less open about showing the finer details of mine. I am a much happier person for it. Before my love walked into my life, I spent countless hours on instagram just browsing pictures of nothing and I was more unhappy with myself and life, why? I was comparing my life to those filtered ones on instagram at the expense of my own happiness. You don’t even realise you’re doing it until you pull yourself out of there and join the real world.
I’m really interested to hear your opinion about this.
Are you over the fake & highly edited photos on instagram?0