Facebook has approximately 1.71 billion active profiles. We are often using the site to share what we did on the weekend, what we like watching on Netflix and to moan about what really grinds our gears. We are used to sharing our lives online. But is social media a platform that portrays our lives & identities or an idealistic version of them?

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‘Mediated communication’

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Everything that we consume through the media, is mediated.[/inlinetweet] The creator’s view is shown through everything they share. We have control of how we take in this content, but ultimately there is always a reason and a preferred view.

This even applies to what we view as the most reliable and factual sources; for example a news broadcast – when a breaking news story is revealed, we’re given a representation of events, not necessarily exactly what is actually happening. Someone has decided which footage to show, the wording to be used and how it is displayed. Social media is exactly the same.

Everyone has bad days and everyone has good days. We’re all well aware that people often just share the good parts of their lives, yet we still ask ourselves “why isn’t my kitchen that clean?” or “how is her hair always so perfect?” Her hair is always so ‘perfect’ because she only shares photos when she’s just styled it, has some good lighting and used the ideal angle. She obviously doesn’t look like that when she’s just woken up, even if she’s suggesting as such.

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Social media

Mediated communication is impossible to avoid, but it’s important to remember it exists. I don’t believe the media is the ‘enemy’, it’s great that digital media can be used to portray someone’s vision; just like a painting or a photograph can. But the danger with social media is that the subject being shared is often someone’s identity.

Social media can be used for so many good things; it can help businesses and charities reach and expand their audience, but it can also do the simple things like connect friends and families across the world. I love that social media allows users to express their interests, hobbies and even tell everyone what they had for breakfast! We are constantly encouraged to use social media, and sharing everything has become the complete norm.

As a digital agency, social media is an important platform for Createful. It allows us to express our voice in the digital community and show you all the awesome stuff we do!

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The dog filter

We’re used to seeing unrealistic expectations from celebrities, with airbrushed images and glamorous photoshoots in their gigantic houses. But the introduction of social media means we get the same from our friend’s selfies and holiday photos too!

Snapchat, an app that is perfect for sharing selfies and updating the world on what you’re up to instantly, it’s another platform that makes mediating our lives very easy.

Snapchat is probably best known for its filters! For those of you that don’t use Snapchat; these filters are the reason you see people pulling funny faces at their phone screens. The app detects your face and adds a filter, animating when you open your mouth or raise your eyebrows. They’re a lot of fun, but they’ve also been the cause for uproar! This is because some of the filters morph your face to promote western beauty ideals.

For example, even the infamous ‘dog filter’ (which you can see below, demonstrated delightfully by some of the Createful team) lightens your skin and elongates your face. Is there really a need for this? Surely this is just encouraging mediated communication.

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In an article by Atlas magazine the point is made that these filters are just another example of the media making us feel like we should look a certain way. It seems contradictory to push these beauty ideals onto people at a time where we are told to celebrate diversity and love ourselves.

So…

I don’t want you to come away from this blog post feeling cheated by social media or angry at the media industry in any way. I’m all for sharing and communicating online. It’s great that we live in a world with technology this advanced, and social media is a tool that can be used for so many good things.

It’s just important to remember not everything we see shared by others or even post ourselves is a realistic portrayal of our lives. We shouldn’t browse through social feeds feeling terrible about ourselves. Instead [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]we should view the content shared for what it is; a desired portrayal of an event, person or place.[/inlinetweet]