I like social media. You like social media. Also, I think we can agree that we loathe it at the same time, being a bright spot yet the utter downfall of our social lives. Nevertheless, as brilliant and inclusive it can be, there are facets of social media that can be a pathway to exclusion and self-imposed narcissism, namely Snapchat. 2016 saw the introduction of facial filters in the app, bringing back a resurgence of popularity that Snapchat needed. While it brought fun and ironic humor to a somewhat dying brand, it also initiated a legion of users tapping into their own insecurities, using the filters (namely the dog and flower crown) as a legitimate encapsulation of themselves, no matter how misleading and false it often is.
Introduced a little over a year ago, the dog filter was the first of several that became the foundation of a new found appeal in Snapchat. Snapchat finally gave the people what they wanted: filters to make the user look like cartoon characters and flower children, all in the name of fun and intended irony. And for a time, that was exactly what it did: it brought a sense of humor and fun to an app that was gradually growing stale. Many were able to see the irony behind the update, and rightfully so; it would be egregious and downright foolish to genuinely believe that,even for a moment, this update was conceived with the intention of making some tragically self-conscious users seem more attractive to their peers. Make a long story short, logic did not prevail in this instance.
Unfortunately, there are no concrete statistics to back this claim up, but I feel that I am not in the minority when I say my own feed has been completely bombarded and decimated by wanna-be canines and the false offspring of flowers. And let it be known that I was not oblivious to what I had seen. At no time did I think “Well, look at that! This new Snapchat update is truly bringing the inner comedian in us all, as I trust everyone recognizes this as an ironic, silly and fun tool”. That would be the epitome of wishful thinking.
I cringe at the idea of trying to describe what these filters were used for by my “friends”. Simply put, some were using them in the “appropriate” manner. You know, for fun(!), whereas others used those lenses as a means to seem or appear to be more “attractive”. By attractive, I strictly mean it by the viewpoint of the poster who is, well, posting it, as it not only gives them dog ears and a nose and an actual dog tongue (what a time to be alive), the filter also conveniently clears up the subject’s skin of acne and actually makes the face leaner than it actually is. By doing this, the user essentially feels that they feel more attractive and confident under the guise of a dog, being heartbreakingly insecure over their appearance to the point where they use a tool of ironic fun as a catalyst to achieve their notion of “beauty”. Also, a case could be made that I am making a gross assumption, but go to your Friends List on Facebook, and Followers on Instagram and Twitter; I have a hunch that you’d be able to find the case I just elaborated on. And if it isn’t the dog filter or the flower crown, it is most certainly is, without a doubt, the googly eyed one. You know, the one that isn’t at all subtle with its act of slimming down the face. Social media users eat this up, and it is extremely alarming that people use these pictures as a genuine representation of themselves, like “Yeah that’s me, dog ears and all. Who needs to be comfortable in their own skin when a flower crown can be my lasting legacy?”.
Conclusively, you, the reader may wonder why would I bring up this subject at this time, well over a year after the update. I’ve begun to realize the toxicity that social media as a whole can easily bring. Yes, it’s a great way to keep in contact with friends from afar and amazing help in group projects. It is also a fantastic way to express your true self, giving you a platform to display life as you know it, through your eyes, and showcase it to the world to admire. Then there’s others who are so fatally insecure about themselves, especially on the outside, who feel the need to literally filter themselves because they feel they’re not good enough. By using this app, letting that app shape their appearance and by letting that appearance represent them to the outside world, they have effectively given into their insecurities by letting a tool that was originally a parody into the real thing.
They think of themselves to be The Godfather, a masterpiece in every sense of the word, but they’re actually The Godfather Part III: a tired and delusional production that desperately wants the public to believe that they are as good as the original. The Godfather Part III didn’t win any Oscars, and the dog filter won’t win you any friends.