By: Allie Norris and Crystal Fox
When it comes to Snapchat and other social media, Syd Calhoun has seen first hand how a business or person can create their own reality.
“I followed a store in Southern California, I followed their Snapchat and Instagram because their photos are really cool,” says Calhoun, who lives in San Diego. “I went into a store in Pacific Beach and asked if they had a pair of shorts a size bigger. There was a banner that said sizes fit all. The lady said it looks like ‘our clothes only fit most.’ I unfollowed their Snapchat and realized the store wasn’t meant for all body types. I kind of moved on from it and learned about certain businesses and their prerogatives…The snapchat made me want to buy their clothes, but it’s literally just the same shirt 15 times.”
Businesses might misrepresent themselves on Snapchat or Instagram, but so do people.
“The Kardashians are a good example,” says Calhoun. “Kylie Jenner has started to use a waist trainer, basically Spanx, so she’s been wearing and promoting. I know a few friends of mine who have actually bought them, even though I’ve read studies show it moves your internal organs…because the Kardashians promote it.”
Calhoun uses filters herself but not for any ulterior motives.
“Honestly, I use the filters because I think they’re cool,” she says. It’s not because I want to look cuter, it’s just out of a force of habit and trend.”
Indira Cunningham, a senior at Woodward Academy, also uses filters, especially one that makes her eyes bigger. “For me personally, I would put the most interesting parts that I think people want to see.”
“Honestly, it’s just cool that they can do that,” says Calhoun.
Research shows, however, that using filters can be more meaningful.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Dr. Gary Glass, director of counseling and psychological services at Duke University says, “People tend to publish the most impressive, entertaining…or attractive versions of themselves on social media platforms. This can create a false impression of how much happier or more successful others are.”
According to British company Photoworld, around 200 million Snapchat users share around 9,000 photos per second. There are just as many reasons why they’d be sharing those images, say researchers at UGA.
“I think they’re doing any of the following: killing time with a jokey activity; expressing something symbolically about themselves or someone else,” said James Hamilton, department head of the University of Georgia’s Entertainment and Media Studies. “Something that isn’t obvious on the surface, and hence needs to be expressed symbolically.”
Sometimes, people may use filters “because people construct a different image instead of using theirs. They do it for artistic reasons, a reaction in viewers, to entertain them, to be racist, or to be harmful,” said Welch Suggs, associate professor of journalism at UGA. “Social media is just tricky.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 91 percent of young people go online daily. Taylor Bailey, a senior at Statesboro High School, is one of them, and she uses it “every time I open my phone. Fun filters accent my face and make me cuter. I just want to have stars float around my head.”
“I have a friend who doesn’t use Snapchat to edit her photos, she uses an actual editing app to blur out spots on her face and put more makeup on her face than she actually wears,” said Bailey. “And the thing is she’s really pretty…I don’t think you should edit your pictures to change your appearance, but a little filtering is OK. Everybody does it.”