The Filter Enigma and its effects on our lives

The age of social media is now and we are now more compelled than ever to be social media-ready. Put into play Snapchat and Instagram and we have a plethora of filters and editing features that make the task evermore easy. It usually takes only a few moments and a couple of clicks to get that perfect selfie.

However, as it becomes easier and easier to adjust our looks using digital manipulation, the pressure on us to always look our best also increases and vice versa. This has been going on so much that these photos have become a standard for beauty.

A recent project named ‘Selfie Harm’ by renowned photographer Rankin delved in into the same phenomena showing the length some people go to in order to appear “beautiful”.”People are mimicking their idols,” Rankin said, “and all for social media likes.”

Rankin asked 15 British teenagers-aged 13 to 19-to spend five minutes editing their photos to make them “social media-ready”.

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The project aimed at showing how social media affects the way we view ourselves. And to show the pressure young people face these days to conform to a certain standard of beauty as well.

Rankin’s statement on the matter

Rankin wrote, “This is just another reason why we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety, and Snapchat dysmorphia,”

“It’s time to acknowledge the damaging effects that social media has on people’s self-image.”

“What’s even scarier is there’s little or no debate happening around this. Something like Photoshop, which is a much more complex and inaccessible program, is actually part of a huge social ethical discussion.

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Although, most of the teenagers said they preferred the way they looked, all of them edited their pictures in some way. Some added makeup and enlarged their eyes while some made their noses narrower and smoothed their skin.

“I found it disturbing how big even the small changes are,” Rankin added. “It’s so simple, almost like creating a cartoon character of yourself.

“These filters are something very new and, in my opinion, a lot more dangerous. It’s almost like giving a teenager access to a Photoshop expert.

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“In the age of the influencer, we’re increasingly force-fed thousands of images every day.”

“Hyper-retouched, sexually gratuitous bite-sized images are served up fast and fleeting. They often leave us feeling hollow and inadequate.”

“These are the empty calories. The visual calories we gorge on because they’re there. Our appetite for this type of content is insatiable. It is visual sugar and we are addicted.”

“Consuming too much of this content seriously harms your mental health.”

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David Smith

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