Fiona's Blog: Facebook Destroys the Real Girl
Last May, Lilly blogged about how Facebook enables girls to publicize their friendships through uploading pictures. However, posting pictures does more damage than just publicizing the friendship. It idealizes the girls.
Facebook allows everyone to create a fake, contrived profile, where each person is mostly able to manage the information they share and the persona they create. Although this control has its benefits, it also allows and encourages teenage girls to shed all their real girl qualities in favor of the perfect girl they can create online.
Before I continue, I should say that I have a Facebook account and am (like the rest of us) mildly addicted. Facebook is exciting and helpful in many ways, but also very dangerous. Many of us are aware of the immediate and physical dangers of posting personal information online (especially to a site that has recently had so many privacy scandals), but we tend to overlook the more lasting, psychological damage.
As digital cameras become the norm, and photo editing programs become more and more popular, girls now have the opportunity to both publicize and alter their appearances. We can remove blemishes, enhance colors, and control the lighting and sharpness of our own faces. Now, every girl can be one step closer to the model they see in Seventeen or CosmoGirl. “OMG Yay!” we all thought at first.
Overly edited pictures of girls have become prevalent on Facebook, thus raising the bar for the supposed “beauty standard” these pictures are supposed to reflect. The actual act of picture taking has also become incredibly contrived, since every shot has become a glamour shot. Girls have perfected their poses and editing techniques to such an extent, that browsing through a single girl’s photos reveals essentially the same picture taken three-hundred times. In addition to perfecting oneself, this trend sometimes leads girls to sabotage their friends (read: frenemies) by leaving their faces unedited and even deleting or cropping them out of group photos.
In short, Facebook has become another stylized advertisement featuring objectified images of fake women. The worst part is that we made it this way! There’s no glossy magazine editor or fashion designer to blame for this one, because we did it ourselves. With the rise in idealized photos, the entire focus of Facebook has shifted. Girls now browse through hundreds of profiles doing what is commonly known as “Facebook stalking.” This activity makes it almost impossible not to compare oneself to other girls. Is it any surprise that a recent study showed that Facebook is most utilized by those who have been determined to be insecure and narcissistic? We’ve created a cycle of insecurity and self-perfection that fosters an unrealistic standard of beauty and another source of resentment and jealousy between teenage girls.
As a teenage girl, it’s incredibly hard to avoid the Facebook craze and almost equally hard to participate without succumbing to the trend of perfected photographs. I think we all need to take a step back (me included) and reflect. Maybe we need to girlcott our own practices on the site. After all, Facebook says its mission is to give people the power to share, but what exactly are we sharing if not ourselves?