Here’s a 3-minute video that shows the reality behind many picture-perfect Instagram photos. It was created by Ditch the Label, an anti-bullying organization working in the USA, UK, and Mexico.
The video highlights how the “perfect” lives seen in social media photos are often faked and completely different from the person’s reality. Users can appear to be living lavish, “perfect” lives, but in reality, they are often mundane like everybody else.
The video features scenes of people spending lots of time and effort in capturing one apparently “natural” or “off the cuff” image. But the shots are contrived and not an accurate representation of what’s going on.
Unfortunately, the act of sharing photos that embellish the truth in an effort to garner likes and followers can actually be detrimental to onlookers, who are left feeling inadequate.
Ditch the Label just published a new study that found that 42% of over 10,000 young people surveyed had experienced cyber-bullying on Instagram. Not only that, but a previous study published earlier this year found that Instagram was the worst social media offender for fueling anxiety, depression, body image issues, and more.
Creating and sharing your work is just the beginning, as Chase Jarvis explains in this 6-minute ‘tough love’ video for his RAW series. Building a community is the long game. Sure, it’s hard work, but it pays off.
“How do I network?” is a question Jarvis frequently receives from photographers who are frustrated that people are not engaging with their work on social media. His advice? Do 100% of the work!
Simply putting your work out there and hoping that people will find it is not going to get you far. In fact, Jarvis claims that creating and sharing your art is only the first 50%, and yet “most people think that that’s where the work stops,” he says.
It’s not… at least not if you want to be successful.
So, what is the other 50%? How do you get people interested and engaged with what you are doing? Like anything worthwhile, it takes hard work, and those with followings like Jarvis have gone that extra mile.
To summarize his advice:
Reach out and engage with your target audience before, during, and after creating your content.
Participate in conferences, meet-ups, events, and establish rapport with people face to face.
Engage with others online—follow photographers you admire and comment on their work; participate in forums, on blog posts, and make yourself present.
Make your name synonymous with not just the great work that you do, but also with your level of participation in the community.
If your work does start taking off, don’t just sit back and enjoy it. Success can be fleeting—you have to continue working hard and build on it.
Jarvis stresses that building a following this way is the long game, and it requires a constant cycle of content creation, promotion, and engagement. Most of all, you have to be patient.
“Don’t get frustrated; be super patient,” says Jarvis. “Don’t be afraid of the work, put the work in, and it will come back to you—it’s just not going to come back to you overnight.” In the age of draconian social media algorithms and ‘influencers,’ this advice is more important than ever.
Check out the whole ‘rant’ up top to get your full dose of Monday morning inspiration. And if you want more tips, tough love, and inspiration from Jarvis, check out his weekly RAW video series, which explores “creativity, hustle + other stuff you want to know.”
Instagram is the most likely social media platform to cause teenagers to feel depressed, anxious, lonely, and with low body confidence. That’s according to a newly published study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK.
The report, titled #StatusOfMind, surveyed 1,500 young people includes some troubling statistics on social media and mental health among people aged 14-24. In the survey, the participants were asked to rank to what extent different social media platforms impacted certain health-related factors, from -2 (a lot worse) to +2 (a lot better).
Of the 5 platforms included in the survey, Instagram fared the worst. From most positive impact to most negative, the platforms are:
It should be noted that all social media platforms except for YouTube were reported as having a net negative impact on mental health.
Instagram users reported a high negative impact on Sleep, Body Image, FoMo, Bullying, and Anxiety.
“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’,” says one female participant in the report.
The results were not all negative though –– the report notes that social media can improve young people’s access to other people’s experiences of health and expert health information, and those surveyed reported feeling more emotionally supported through their contacts than those who do not use social media.
The RSPH is calling for action to help mitigate the negative aspects of social media use. From their report, these recommendations include:
Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated.
Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – include the support from young people for each of these recommendations.
Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support.
Social media has revolutionised how we all connect with one another, but has impacted none more so than our youth. According to the report, 91% of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking, so studies like these are vital to understanding and discussing how these platforms impact our lives.
If you are interested in learning more, the full report is available in PDF format from the RSPH website.
Image credits: Photograph by Tom Sodoge and used with permission
Today, while casually scrolling through someone’s perfectly curated Instagram feed (#FeedGoals for sure), I all of a sudden had to fight the urge to hurl my phone against the wall.
I wasn’t annoyed at the Instagrammer with perfect hair (although why mine never falls remotely like hers is infuriating). I was annoyed at the cultural pressure so many of us choose to succumb to when snapping away and editing our latest photos for Instagram.
Look, it’s not like I’m going to start posting pictures of my boring lunch in my dimly lit kitchen — I’m not that against Insta-culture. And to be fair, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel flattered or a sense of triumph when comments like ‘rustic’, ‘pretty’ or ‘#goals’ pops up on my own feed. The bar will not be brought down — not yet, anyway.
What I can do is be more open about my Instagram photos and explain how things really are versus the filtered version of me that you see on your screen. So, here are the raw, REAL, what-happened-behind-the-scene versions of three ‘pretty’ Instagram photos.
Taken just after my boyfriend and I had loaded up the car after a weekend away where I forgot to take photos. When realizing this, I demanded that Andrew unpack the camera and take this picture. Andrew was frustrated with me for being so last minute about it — he really wanted to hit the road because we had a long journey ahead of us, but I started panicking about a ‘missed opportunity’.
My face was a mess (hence the pose) and my hair was scraggly (zoom in, I dare you), so thank goodness for the hat! I know, I know. I look like I’m having a blissful holiday. The ‘real’ is I was anxious and tired from the flies that buzzed around our room all weekend, not giving me one decent night’s rest, and I was grumpy from being up so early in the morning.
My attempt at sounding ‘together’ and appreciative and non-anxious.
Basically, I’m a fraud. I saw the picture somewhere online and decided to copy it (creative license, amirite?). That said, I didn’t have a white surface to artfully sit on, so I drove to the mall to buy a bath rug. Needless to say, the carpet is now full of yellow pee stains from Popcorn.
The coffee in hand was stone cold because I made it before I realised I needed to go and buy a white surface prop. The croissant was an afterthought that I picked up at the mall. I didn’t eat it because I was worried about the icing sugar. The flowers are almost dead (or fake, I can’t remember) and the book was included purely for aesthetic purposes. I hadn’t even started reading it yet. All I can say is, at least my legs were shaved… jokes! I have blondish leg-hairs that are easily removed using a simple IG filter.
A lie. I’d taken the photo the previous day and just forgot to post it. Plus, there are other ways to start Fridays! Gosh, who am I to say this is the RIGHT way? Pfffft.
Me looking #SuperFit and so NOT sweaty after a workout – a fake workout, might I add. I never worked out for this picture, I just got changed into this outfit in the back of my car. Although it is all an act, my photographer Sarah suggested I actually drink the water (which was old and stale and from a forgotten bottle in my car, by the way) because my attempt at ‘pretend’ drinking caused water to dribble down my face.
Okay, at least the caption is semi-truthful. Yes, I had taken a break (I was being a bit lazy) and yes, I was keen to start exercising again… but not ‘ASAP’. ASAP would have been me chucking my water in the car and heading off for a jog right there in the mountains after the shoot. But I didn’t do that. Instead, I got sushi.
What’s the real behind your Instagram photos?
About the author: Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Theodora Lee has attracted a following of 104,000+ people on Instagram and 240,000+ people on YouTube through her weekly wellness content. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. She’s also working on her first novel. You can find more of her photos on her website and Instagram. This article was also published here.