Contemplating social media’s filter phenomenon

It would probably be incredibly difficult to find someone who’s never heard of Instagram. If you are familiar with the ‘gram, then you, myself and billions worldwide are guilty of spending more hours than we’d like to admit scrolling through pictures and videos. Even those of you who refuse to fully make the network plunge, and instead opting to peruse the feed via the accounts of those trusting enough to share their credentials with you. Yeah, you know who you are. 

We all just can’t help it. It’s like a sickness, the plague of our generation. And sure, let society blame Millennials, that’s cool. Last time I checked though, Gen Xers invented the Internet. So, let’s be careful with where we point our fingers. But, I digress. 


My photo editing consists of correcting my usual red-eye, as I have a habit of staring at the flash.

Rosy messaged me a few weeks ago when the, “Instagram is like window shopping for the life you wish you had,” idea came to her. It was both an accurate and a somewhat sad description of Instagram reality. Accurate because you can actually shop on it now, or at least be lead closer toward a purchase. Sad because we are consciously and subconsciously seeking what we don’t have (FOMO); or at least some perceived notion of what we don’t have.

We were taught as children how to share; social media has taught us how to share online. Problem is, all that sharing has given us a false sense of what’s real, what’s acceptable, what’s just too far.

And I – as someone comfortable with Photoshop – can never foresee myself editing a selfie, no less, on anything other than basic iOS functionality or Insta’s built-in filters (and even that’s a rarity). To be honest, when #NoFilter became popular, a small part of me was thrilled to know there were others out there capable of seeing unedited beauty.

But then there are those who relish in capturing more than just the right angle and flattering light. There are those who live and breathe the third-party editing apps, the ones that give full manipulation capabilities for every minute physical detail. It’s fascinating, in a messed up way. 

**Pictured above: On the left is the original, which I thought turned out great despite having been sick for two weeks. On the right, post app editing. No comment. Actually, I didn’t even want to post this because I found it embarrassing.

But why are people actually doing this on the regular? Are you striving for perfection? Are you trying to emulate awe-inspiring celebrities? Are you striving for Insta-famous status? What drives such commitment? Am I just really lazy?  

I actually had this conversation with a friend not too long ago. I asked if she thought these people knew that the rest of the world can see through the app-filtered lens. She said these people want to look this way and they don’t care if others know that. She was right.  

I suppose all the power to them then – to find comfort in being so in control of one’s image. As Rosy said, “… Remember how many shots it takes to get to that perfect one.” Fair, guilty as charged.

But the line in the sand she spoke of – where does it get drawn? Well …

If you have to spend more that 30 seconds from capture to upload, I think that’s too far.  I hate to reference Drake because it’s just so cliché, but this commitment to ‘perfect’ leads me to believe you must be part of that group he so poignantly describes as, “fake people showin’ fake love to me, straight up to my face.”

At least through the lens of your Instagram account.

Be unapologetic, yes – but be you. Because in a world full of Cheerios, we should all strive to be the Fruit Loop.


One thought on “Contemplating social media’s filter phenomenon

  1. Pingback: Fitness advice from the heart: Kindness over comparison | The Ms. Adventures

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