When I was a kid, my social network was called 'outside'
Let's play pretend
[ We're all getting too old around here to understand social media. So we asked Millie, our work experience student, to explain it to us. Over to you, Millie! ]
Social media is the latest in a long line of ways we all try to pretend to be a completely different person. Those of us born after the 80's will be able to understand the full effect of the rise of social media. It has hit my generation with full force, obliterating everything in its wake. And as dramatic as that sounds, it's true.
My aunty spent 2 hours and 37 minutes creating her 'eHarmony' account before Christmas because a Facebook quiz told her that Mr Right was still out there. I don't quite understand how the robots knew this from just her profile picture and photos she's been tagged in. Nevertheless, she was matched with 'Ginger Darren', as I like to call him, from Woolston, and they hit it off right away. 3 dates I think they've had already; he even took her to an art gallery. I know that sounds incredibly tedious, but I think that's just the kind of dates he's into. If it were me, I honestly would've gone for 'Bodybuilder Tyler', but that's just personal preference. I think a couple’s selfie might be appearing on Instagram soon - that's when you know the relationship is going somewhere.
In terms of creating a new identity, just look at Kylie Jenner - the 'queen of social media'. I get that people grow up, but let’s face it, puberty hit her like Ronda Rousey. She started with thin, long, brown hair and skinny lips when Keeping Up With The Kardashians first began and I feel as though she has evolved as fast as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. You can't deny that she worked hard to get where she is - especially in terms of her makeup line. However, if it wasn't for the platform social media has created for her, who would she be? Another reality star that's famous for being famous? Her family is quite controversial, in the sense that they got a TV show because one of them was best friends with Paris Hilton and filmed a sex tape. I’m just saying, I've definitely come across people worthier of their fame and fortune.
If we're focusing on the concept of fake personas and how people create a platform from it, I have to mention Photoshop. It’s been in the headlines so often that all the important stuff gets shoved to the end of a celebrity news programme. Zendaya was highly praised last year when she released side by side photos for a magazine shoot, with one that was real, while the other had been photoshopped. Her already skinny thighs had been slimmed down to the size of a Frankfurt sausage and the colour of her skin was oddly tanned. Her cute cheeks had also been carved out to the point where she almost looked like the stereotypical alien. Even if you don’t open up a photo editing tool, you’re probably guilty of this sort of thing. If you’ve ever obsessed about which angle to take the photo from, or which filter to use, I’m talking to you.
So, when I look through my Instagram feed, and see pictures of my innocent Primary School friends in their new Calvin Kleins, I cringe. Their 30AA boobs are pushed up to the maximum and their heels spread wide apart to create that thigh gap illusion. I know for a fact that they're breathing in and awkwardly posing for their 627 followers. But why? Why do we do this? Why is the opinion of acquaintances and strangers so important to us?
Think about your own profile. Who are you pretending to be? I’ll hold my hands up too.
(Want more of Millie? You can read about her experience at Etch on her personal blog.)