By now, it should hardly come as a surprise that what we see on our social media feeds is often a curated, glamorized version of real life. After all, with the ability to crop, filter, and caption our photos with a few taps of our fingers, it’s easier than ever to make our lives seem perfect.
But one blogger and Instagram star just used social media to fake out her hundreds of thousands of followers — including her IRL friends and family. She successfully faked a trip to Disneyland, proving just how deceptive social media can be, and how we shouldn’t view it as a true measure of reality.
Carolyn Stritch is a 32-year-old photographer, blogger, and Instagram influencer from the U.K., and she often shares picture-perfect shots and behind-the-scenes stories from her adventures on her lifestyle blog, The Slow Traveler. But for her latest journey, Stritch set out to encourage her followers to “question everything” when it comes to the aspirational images they see on their feeds each day.
Stritch first shared a photo of herself lounging in bed with a cup of coffee, writing that she was headed to Disneyland for her birthday to “Instagram the hell out of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.” She wrote, “I’ll be by myself, but so what? It’ll be my very own fairytale. Human possibilities vastly exceed our imagination!”
The next day, she shared the most picturesque photo of herself in front of the castle, mysteriously without the crowds, popcorn trucks, and selfie-takers. Some commenters did question how she managed to get a photo in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle without anyone in it, but others mostly marveled at her perfect shot.
However, Stritch eventually wrote a blog post titled “Why I hacked my own Instagram account,” revealing that the entire trip to Disneyland was an experiment inspired by a recent selfie she posted in which she used a filter app to change most of her features, sharing the side-by-side shots to prove just how different reality can be from what we project to the world.
Stritch claims that not even her friends and family questioned the image, because we’re all so used to seeing filtered versions of people online. She said, “I uploaded the selfie as a profile picture on Facebook as a sort of experiment and nobody questioned it. Not my best friend, my sisters, or even my own mam!”
She was then inspired to fake the trip, Photoshopping herself in front of Disneyland’s most famous photo spot without anyone else there…which is kinda the dream, right? Yep, and that was exactly her point.
She admits that plenty of her most popular shots are posed, writing, “I don’t usually FaceApp my face or pretend I’ve been places I haven’t. But I never read by the window — those windows, beautiful as they are, make my flat freezing cold. Sometimes that coffee cup I’m holding is empty. I suck in my stomach. I rearrange the furniture. I photoshop out dirty marks made by bashing furniture off the walls.”
Her posts are an important reminder that what we see on our feeds are often filtered, Photoshopped, and glossy versions of reality, and that even the most “perfect” images likely aren’t as perfect as they seem.