False reality on social media

I challenge you to name a single development to have shaped mass culture more than social media over the past two decades. This revolutionary innovation of the world wide web that allows us to share pictures, talk with friends and just generally declare how we feel about the customer service in the world around us. It is everywhere and fully integrated into our daily lives with more than 60% of the UK owning a Facebook account, and spending an average 1hr 29minutes each day scrolling, tapping and tweeting away.

But social media isn’t as simple as just socialising online. Hidden behind our screens, social media has given something entirely alien to the human race; the complete unreserved ability to control how others perceive us. It has granted us the power to allow others to see the lives we want them to think we have. And why wouldn’t we take advantage of that gift – given the choice who would choose to share a photo that they think is unattractive, or reveal how their holiday of a lifetime to the Great Wall of China is in fact just tourist soup – especially when your childhood enemy is still a ‘friend’ on Facebook?!

Great Wall of China

This won’t come as a surprise; most are aware of the distorted reality streaming from their news feeds. What’s interesting now, however, is how this awareness of the unreality of social media has ironically made honest posts something refreshing that seize our attention. Famously, last year Instagram model Essena O’Neill edited the captions on her posts to reflect how far from real life they were, receiving widespread attention from the worldwide press. And #nofilter sits firmly in the top 30 Instagram hashtags of 2016.

Authenticity is not something to be hidden, therefore. With ad blocking on the rise, brands are increasingly reaping the benefits of connecting more authentically with consumers by embracing honest marketing. Realising that mockery and parody, (or worse – simply being ignored,) is often the result of conforming and pretending to be something you’re not – is the best way to defend against these outcomes to do the opposite and be true to who you are?

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Joe Wilson

With a background in Psychology, Joe has an intrinsic interest in what makes people tick: relishing the challenges and intricacies of interpreting how and why consumers behave in the way they do, and turning this into actionable insight.

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