Instagram vs Reality : How Far Should We Stretch The Truth?

5 September 2018
Another week and another drama has rocked the blogging boat, with Scarlett London finding herself right in the middle of it. Earlier this week she came under fire from Twitter trolls and keyboard warriors alike, criticising the 'reality' of her Instagram post promoting Listerine mouthwash. Like many of Scarlett's posts the photo was pretty, pink and aspirational; but most importantly it was staged. 

While this may have come to a shock to many people on Twitter, the rest of us are aware that adverts (which is what this was) are often staged. But it's not just adverts that are staged; magazine shoots, films, television programmes, photographs and many more are also set up to create a certain aesthetic or appearance. For example lots of food and drink in movies is not edible or it may be substituted for something similar, e.g. when an actor is drinking 'Vodka' in a film it's actually water and ice cream is mashed potato. Similarly when we were shooting for a catalogue or an advert at work, we wouldn't always shoot on location. So while it would look like a beautiful room in a house, it would actually be a studio styled to look like a room in a house, even including fake windows with a photoshopped view.

The truth is lots of industries don't present us with reality, because reality isn't always that pretty. Instead we are given a perfectly packaged, Truman Show style world that sets our hearts racing and our imagination running. And I don't mind that. 

Media is there to tell a story and that is exactly what Scarlett was trying to do through her Instagram post. It also something many bloggers, including myself, do to try and engage their audience. I'm not ashamed to say that the image I posted on the morning of my 21st birthday was taken during the afternoon on the previous day. I got into my pjs, blew up some balloons are arranged them on my bed to look as though I had just woken up and was about to open all of my presents. I then edited the photo and posted it on my actual birthday, when I knew I wouldn't have time to take photos because I would be spending the day with my family.

I'm also not ashamed to admit that makeup, magazines and rose petals don't just happen to fall onto my desk but are carefully constructed into pretty flatlays that are visually appealing. 

Is that deceptive? I don't think so.

I don't photoshop my images to make myself look skinnier or to get rid of the scaffolding around the Sagrada Familia. Nor do I claim that detox tea made me slim when actually it's down to eating well and exercising plenty. 

Also, let's not forget that at the same time as posting these curated photos, many bloggers will also use their platform to talk and spread awareness of real life issues.  Mental health, chronic illness, relationship advice and much more, are topics I regularly see being discussed by some of my favourite bloggers to help, inspire and educate their audiences, as they find the balance between the real and the fake. 

So while we bloggers, need to be careful not to take things too far when staging a perfect life and to remind our audience that life isn't always perfect. Consumers also need to use some common sense and take their own wellbeing (as well as others) into consideration when online.

If you are that triggered by a mouthwash advert that you feel the need to start a witch hunt then maybe you shouldn't be online. In addition to this, if you want everything you see to be real and truthful then avoid any form of media, entertainment or people including (but not limited to) magicians, politicians, newspapers, the cinema, television and social media. So, come on and give bloggers a break for a change.

Eleanor xx
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