This week, Google has announced an important development in the image editing on its Pixel phones. They removed default filters to decrease the unhealthy comparisons.
One of the most significant concerns in this modern age is comparison, and users trying to unfairly be like the images of people they see online, which most of the time doesn’t don’t represent the reality.
Several social media platforms are already investigating means to be able to address problems with filter fatigue and comparison. This week, Google took an important step in this matter, which is announcing that they will remove the filters applied automatically in selfies taken by Pixel phones.
According to Google:
“We conducted multiple studies and spoke with child and mental health experts from around the world, and found that when people are not aware that a camera or photo app has applied a filter, the photos can negatively impact mental wellbeing. These default filters can quietly set a beauty standard that some people compare themselves against.”
As an outcome of the investigations, Google is planning to make its filter usage more transparent, and they also removed any ‘beauty’ references in its retouching tools.
“Starting with the Pixel 4a, the new Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5, face retouching options are available in the camera app, but turned off by default. In an upcoming update, you’ll see value-free, descriptive icons and labels for face retouching options. And if you choose to use face retouching effects, you’ll see more information about how each setting is applied and what changes it makes to your image.”
It is significant in the extended fight against unrealistic comparisons, although it may seem like a minor step. However, respecting the younger and more sensitive users who get impacted more by their interactions online.
This is one of the most important things people have to understand about social media, and the images posted by people on social media: Social media is not necessarily representing real life.
Most of the time, what you are seeing on social media is a collection of a person’s best moments. However, people do not share their bad hair days, being in bed all day long, and their worst days. People get through ups and downs in everything in their lives, physically and psychologically, and this is the norm. But it’s less likely to see these downs shared on social media.
This makes social media most of the time overwhelming. When you are scrolling through all these holiday photos and snaps from your former colleagues, neighbors, classmates, and so one, most probably you’re going to compare yourself to these cheerful images. So, these comparisons will not be good in many cases. Sometimes, it makes you think that you failed in doing something, or that you are not that beautiful. However, the deep truth is that in most of the cases, this is not true all the time.
So, Stories offer relief from the perfection of the crafted and curated selfies on Instagram. As in Stories, you get to see at least a small and goofy snippet of a person’s life. That is more likely to relate and more difficult to edit and beautify as you can still put filters to videos, you can not utilize tools to change your real personality as you do with your looks. Quick and short videos make people more of ‘humans’ it decreases the levels of the unfair comparisons that have seen a rise, that’s why it can be argued that it is important to have Stories option on many platforms to balance the unreality of the digital life we are living in.
TikTok is also another example of this trend. TikTok actually does focus on beauty, but it focuses more on creativity and fun and not even taking life seriously. Indeed, girls are still using these platforms to get self-validation from other users, and that’s why it’s a huge issue that 1/3 users of TikTok from the US are under 14 years old. However, moving beyond the perfectly crafted selfie is part of the app’s popularity and the media culture, and the evolution of social media networks.
So, that is a significant shift, with Google’s experiment, we have to look for ways to change our ways from the unreal representations of daily life. To decrease the pressure on people to have perfect skin, to always be fit and in shape, to always be the latest fashion, and to be perfect 24/7.
That is not how life is in reality. Particularly now as we are all working from home. Actually, I guess people who are reading this article are wearing sweatpants and their hair is messy with a tired eye. This is life, this is reality, and social media has changed our way of looking at it in many ways. Don’t let social media images affect your self-esteem, because people who are taking these selfies were looking just like you 5 minutes before taking the photo.