The 10 biggest lies we tell each other on Instagram
It’s safe to say that in 2019 we’re all trying to be on our best Instagram game. That means bright colors, no-filter filters, and FaceTuned perfection.
What we also know, as people of the internet, is that most of it isn’t real. The nonstop loop of highlight reels belonging to people we may not even know usually entails a very wee percentage of our waking lives. Instead of the truth, we get the rare moments in which our hair is just right, our coffee table is freshly cleared, and the waffles aren’t soggy yet.
Reminding ourselves that what we see may have only a passing resemblance to actuality is crucial, lest we start to expect a life free of anything other than perfectly poached eggs and forever fresh shoes.
What do we lie about? Well, reader, to put it frankly: everything. Here are 10 of the most prevalent falsehoods on the app.
1. “I only wear cute clothes. Like, ever.”
With trending hashtags like #ootd (“outfit of the day,” for the fit-pic-deficient) and #instafashion, it’s hard to avoid images of people dressed like they just got back from a successful shopping trip. And they probably did! But what they’re not posting is the laundry-day outfit they wore to the grocery store.
2. “Clutter? Not in my home!”
Plants. Candles. Books you’ve never read. These homely accoutrements abound in the abodes on Instagram. Sometimes the items are arranged in such a way that doesn’t resemble any sort of livable reality. Case in point: This art book resting open on a small fur rug. How does one go about flipping through those expensive-looking pages? Do they recline on the bed with their head and arms dangling off? Or sit pretzel-style on the fur rug, hunched over the book?
3. “Endeavors that require skill are super easy!”
Makeup and baking are probably the two most common culprits here. We see people applying primer with precision and eyeshadow with ease, usually while playing upbeat radio-hit music. Suddenly the person who wasn’t wearing makeup 30 seconds ago is sporting a full face and it looks uh-mazing.
With baking, posters employ the same sort of editing and digital sleights of hand to achieve a breezy result. Whether it’s icing a cake or making sliders, foodie Instagrammers know how to make their process seem fast and simple. Since we’re viewing the whole process in a 15-second clip, it’s hard to recognize the labor that actually went into these ‘grammable treats.
4. Celebrities love their paparazzi shots.
Stars, especially models, are always posting paparazzi shots of themselves. This can lead one to believe that these special creatures truly “woke up flawless,” as Beyoncé would say. The truth, however, is that celebrities have many different relationships with paparazzi. Sometimes the stars are working with the paps in order to achieve a certain shot — like appearing candid while holding a product they were paid to be seen with.
Singer Bebe Rexha just posted a paparazzi shot that she detests, saying, “Im posting it cause it’s REAL.” That’s pretty remarkable. After all, most celebs usually only post the pap shots that are the most flattering. We don’t see the ones where they have a double chin or are mid-blink … you know, the state of normal people. Stars they’re just like us!
5. “I’m perfect.”
Facetune is one of the most popular photo editing apps in the Apple app store. Since being released in 2013, it’s come a long way, making it easier than ever to completely overhaul one’s face, from getting rid of pores to making eyes brighter. Nobody needs plastic surgery when Facetune is loaded on their phone. With a quick couple of swipes, a new nose could be yours to show the world.
This sort of digital deception, though, comes with consequences. Journalist Julia Brucculieri gave herself a nose job, and it “crushed” her self-confidence she ended up liking her digital nose more than her own. Brucculieri ultimately decided not to keep the app on her phone, knowing it would lead to unhealthy habits. “I like to think that part of me realized if I did have FaceTune on my phone, I’d spend way too many hours trying to turn my face into Kendall Jenner’s,” she said.
6. “I always keep random products by my side.”
Product placement is an insidious beast on Instagram. In an age in which everyone and their mom is supposedly selling something, it can be hard to tell who’s being paid and who just genuinely likes a product.
Here’s Kendall Jenner lying in the sun in a towel. Several inches from her face is a tube of Proactiv. Her use of the #proactive_ambassador hashtag lets us know it’s an ad. What we don’t know is whether she actually uses Proactiv … or if she just got paid enough to pretend that she does.
7. “My meal is perfect.”
We’ve all witnessed (or been) that person who won’t eat a bite of brunch until they get a picture first. It seems that after one mimosa, everyone becomes a creative director, tilting their cutlery this way and that, shoving their dirty napkin out of the shot, and maybe even making a mess, all for the ubiquitous snap of their poached egg. We just hope you wipe down the table after your photoshoot.
8. “I’m best friends with that person I haven’t seen since college, six years ago.”
It’s a tricky chore deciding who gets a public birthday post. Who makes the cut and who doesn’t? For some, the answer is everyone they’ve ever met. Nicole, 25, has a chronic birthday poster; it’s even more awkward because they’re not close. “We graduated 4 years ago and don’t talk much anymore, but every birthday she still posts multiple old photos of us with the same levels of enthusiasm she did when we were at school. I know I’m not the only one she does this with. As she makes more friends, her birthday stories are becoming hilariously frequent. I think she recently celebrated three people in one day. A lot.” While birthday posts are NBD, the cheery well-wishing can be misleading, making people appear closer than they actually are.
9. “I got the perfect pic on the first try!”
With multiple platforms on which to post selfies, it’s imperative to upload the one. I only have personal experience to back me up, but I think it’s safe to say that getting the shot takes a couple of tries. And by a couple, I mean 753.
Ansel Elgort may have been shedding light on the falseness of first-try culture when he posted a slew of 17 photos to his Instagram feed recently, giving followers a glimpse into what his camera roll looks like. It’s refreshing to see a big movie star appearing indecisive about which shot to post. Or maybe he just wanted to put himself out there 17 different times. Either way, thank you, Ansel, for each and every angle.
10. Linear time doesn’t exist on instagram.
Apps like Timehop make it easy to take a stroll down memory lane on a daily basis and then post any relic you may find. Throwback Thursday (#tbt) and Flashback Friday (#fbf) turn the tail end of the week into a free-for-all for any old content you wish to post. It’s all nostalgic fun and games, but this can create a blurry timeline, devoid of life’s ticking clock. When things on social media get blurry, people start to worry. How many times have you had to hold off on posting something because you told one friend you were sick and couldn’t go out, only to do just that with another?
It’s also all too easy to use the Stories feature to slyly deceive your followers. Simply upload a picture from last week and then drag the timestamp Instagram sticks on it into the little white trash button at the bottom of the screen. This allows users to sit on the couch on Friday and upload pics and videos from that forbidden party they attended on Wednesday. Careful, lest you set the group chat on fire.
Look, we’re all guilty of projecting a better version of ourselves online. If it were a crime, we’d all be behind bars. But if you buy into the lies, you may as well be buying everything else these deceptive Instagrammers are selling you. Save your money and your mind scroll with a grain of salt. Not everything you see is true, but as long as you’re aware of that, it’s probably fine.