Filters + Their Impact

Filter means to pass through a device to remove unwanted material. 

They are designed to ensure that the consumer/viewer gets a refined, perfect perception of the product – or the person. 

Water filters: get rid of dirt and tiny bacterial particles – removing impurities. 

Snapchat filters: don’t allow the story viewer to see anything that doesn’t keep within the highest beauty standards. They also remove ‘impurities’. 

So, as a consumer, all we see is a ‘perfect’ picture. We don’t get to see what flaws, according to our unattainable beauty standards, were present before. We try out the filter ourself, noticing how it sculpts our jaw to a perfect point, adds blush to our pale cheeks, ensures freckles are dotted on the nose to make it look ‘somewhat natural’.

Filters are deceiving, especially those that change our outward appearance.

Notice a Year 7s Instagram, and how every selfie has a Snapchat filter on it? Apps such as Snapchat, and even Instagram now, prey on people’s insecurities. Young teenagers who are only just beginning to notice these negative inward thoughts are being provided a solution in the click of a finger. A flawed solution, might I add. Because filters only contribute to a further downward spiral.

Where the Internet used to provide a happy escape from these insecurities, now people have to escape from the Internet. The Internet, social media in particular, has become so experienced at looking sharp, refined and ‘perfect’ that it’s hard to distinguish what is fake and what isn’t. 

Without the ‘before’ images, how will we ever know what has been changed?

And Instagram posts – they have filters and presets too.

I use my own Lightroom preset to make my feed look coordinated. It lifts the brightens of my photographs, changes reds to deep browns, affects the way people see my life. Because everyone does this, we think we can get away without sharing the before.

But no.

Every now and then, its important to display the raw, unedited photographs compared to the ‘after’. Otherwise your followers are receiving a warped perception of your life – which leads to declining mental health over time.

And you wonder- how can an edited photo do so much?

Despite our efforts to prevent it: comparison. 

You look at your desk – and it doesn’t look like the photo with 1000 likes on Instagram… “am I doing something wrong?”

“My garden never looks that green… ugh why is my life so dull?”

“I wish my face looked that glowy. My only glow is my greasy acne scars.”

“I can’t understand why their life looks so aesthetic.”

We know that what we’re seeing on Instagram is purely a highlight reel, yet we can’t help that part of our brains that believes their life is perfect all of the time. 

When you are catching yourself having these thoughts regularly, step down from social media for a bit. Enjoy life. Unfiltered life. Appreciate the beautiful trees that dot the landscape on your daily walks – even though they’re not bright green or ‘beautiful’. Understand that what makes life special is its imperfections: the things that don’t go to plan, and the spontaneous solutions to unexpected problems. 

Learn that nothing is ever perfect. 

Any long term readers of my blog will know that this isn’t my regular style of post! My friend Rachel reached out to my a few weeks ago, about her project on discussing the impact of filters. After forming a group chat – where there were many submissions – Rachel brought snippets of everyone’s writing on the topic together, to form a short, impactful video. You can check that out my clicking here. I really stretched outside of my comfort zone, discussing something I never have done before. It was really testing of my writing ability, too! Of course, Rachel couldn’t include all of my piece. So I thought it would be nice to post the full thing on here for any of you that haven’t seen the video.

I really hope you like it. Let me know if you want to see more posts in this style in the future!

Catherine x

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