Social media filters are all about adding a bit of fun, colour and, for me at least, sorting out a pale complexion.
But what about when the social media gods take it that step further? What about when they start trying to airbrush parts of our lives?
We’re all different, that’s part of what makes platforms like Instagram so fun. It’s a glance into other people’s lives, what their version of “ordinary” is.
This of course means that we share pictures that don’t feature us looking red carpet ready, or that show a different side to life.
They might not be picture perfect by the standards of glossy magazines, but they’re our own picture of perfection.
Our Altered Life
I got to thinking about this after the ludicrous decision by Instagram to remove a picture of Harry Beswick, whose mum Charlie blogs under the name Our Altered Life.
Harry was born with Goldenhar syndrome, which means he has no left eye, eye socket, nostril or left ear.
This is a lovely 12-year-old lad whose mum’s Insta account is packed with gorgeous family pictures that provide daily inspiration to fellow mums and other kids with disabilities.
On Sunday Charlie uploaded a happy family picture, like many others she has shared with her thousands of followers, which featured Harry without his false eye. Charlie was left dismayed when it was removed two days later.
Apparently a cowardly user had reported it to Instagram. But even more shockingly, this huge social media platform saw fit to remove the picture as a result. Why? Instagram says it was a mistake, but someone in their organisation had to take that decision to remove the photo in the first place. I would like an explanation for what they were thinking.
It would also be nice if Instagram could announce some kind of sensitivity, or perhaps common sense, training for its staff.
Instagram says it has apologised but it’s terrible this happened in the first place and totally the wrong message to send to impressionable young people who use the site.
Wrong message for kids
It tells them disability is not part of every day life, it’s something we shouldn’t look at and we should shy away from it. It is Instagram’s responsibility as an influencer of millions of people around the world to help normalise disability, to celebrate individuality.
Discrimination against disabled people is wrong in any public place in the UK, so why should social media be any different.
I have similar feelings about pictures of breastfeeding mums that have been labelled offensive by sites such as Facebook in the past.
Why, when there is already a mountain to climb for many mums trying to breastfeed their babies, would you single out a picture of a nursing mum for deletion when there are thousands of posts that actually are offensive.
What about the cyber-bullying posts, the call to arms terror posts, the videos of terrorist acts designed to cause fear?
Surely these are the posts we don’t want to see? Not a picture of a mother doing the most natural thing in the world, feeding her baby.
Editing our lives
If social media can single out these types of images for deletion, then where does it end? What would the future hold with this type of logic?
Would make-up free selfies be removed because our spots and bags under our eyes are offensive to look at? Would pictures of wonky cakes be removed because they don’t look mouth-watering enough?
I don’t want our lives to be airbrushed. I want to see everything, unfiltered, that people have to share with the world.
All this type of action does is give greater power to bullies. I already worry about what the future may hold for my own daughters and the pressures to achieve perfection they will face.
We still place far too much emphasis on looks. I hope that when they are older, my girls’ social media accounts are places to have fun and share snapshots of their lives with friends, not face discrimination and nastiness.
I hope Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms take a little time to learn from their mistakes.
It would be a terrible shame to put other people off from posting beautiful pictures from their real lives just because they are a little bit different to what’s classified as “normal”.
Do you think social media platforms like Instagram are too quick to remove pictures? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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