Everyone knows that a lot of online content can easily be faked. From Photoshop to Facetune, we all have to take online images with a pinch of salt and try to remember that not everything we see can be believed.
So, what happens when people decide to fake a lifestyle? Fake homes, money or trips to other countries? In the true online social experiment way, many people have been taking up the “Fake Travel” challenge to see if they can trick their Instagram followers into believing that they’re somewhere else in the world.
I, personally, came across this trend through my YouTube recommended videos, and honestly, I’m glad that I did. Here’s the video I was shown:
In regard to the video itself, I think it’s a very well-made video, highlighting the difficulty and guilt that go along with the lies, but also (more concerningly) the ease with which their followers were able to believe in the trip.
While the two in the video came clean with their audience, it goes to show how easily we can be deceived by things online, and this could cause some real problems for many people, both online and offline.
In terms of PR, the use of fake imagery in this way causes mistrust. Not only does it make us feel that we cannot trust those people that have been proven to use these techniques, but now, we are made to feel that we cannot trust any person, organisation or image, in the fear that it could be fake (more so than ever before).
Influencers have the power to make their audience believe anything they post, so how could this impact future marketing? After the recent #AD and #spon changes on social media (which now forces creators and influencers to be completely transparent about sponsored content), is this just a new way in which influencers can use the fake-ability of images to influence audiences and potentially help to sell products and/or services?
Social media has been proven to impact mental health as it is – so many people feel under pressure of having ‘lesser’ lives than others due to those other people having perceivably better lives than them online. Fake trips to foreign countries can only be seen to add to the culture of one-upping that is already causing so much harm to social media users around the world.
So, what can we do?
While there isn’t a great deal we can do as individuals to impact others, we must all be aware of online trends such as these. Currently, people online are actively tricking their followers into believing things that aren’t true, and the trend is only making more and more people aware of how to do it!
Equally, as individuals, we should aim to be as transparent as we can be with our audiences, because ultimately, a lot more people stand to benefit from honesty than from dishonesty.
As a collective online society, we can take guidance from the #AD and #spon movements of recent years and make a change together, by standing up for honest content creation and raising awareness for transparency online.
It makes me sad that this has to be the case, but as long as humanity is selfish or greedy, we will always have to keep our wits about us. It makes for a cynical society, but unfortunately, seeing isn’t believing anymore.