Social Media: As Fake as You Make It

messy thoughts

A note from Emma: When this whole social media scandal took hold of the world, I immediately texted Aisling about it. Her Instagram to me is the complete opposite of “fake” and “contrived”. I remember us all being together, Aisling sneakily taking photos, and if one of us noticed what she was doing, she put her phone down. She has a love of photography and authenticity that I really admire, there’s nothing fake about the way she does social media. 

Lately, social media has become really controversial, with the release of Essena O’Neill’s emotional video and declaration of her departure from this “toxic place”. She claims that we are a brainwashed generation, which is a scary notion, but unfortunately true in many ways. The other day I came across an article which revealed how Kim Kardashian had photoshopped an Instagram post to rid of her flyaway hairs and tuck in her loose skin. And don’t even get me started on the superficial Instagram relationship of Jay & Alexis. The bottom line is that more often than not, what we see on Instagram (& Tumblr, & youtube, etc. etc.) is rarely an accurate representation of real life.


But, I do love Instagram. I think that being able to fit bites of our lives into nice neat squares, and being able to share these squares and view others is an amazing thing. For me, it’s fun to make each square in my grid look nice next to each other and to match with the surrounding. I think Instagram allows an simple way to share beautiful moments from our lives. However, I also think it’s important to understand that Instagram is not only a social media platform but also an advertising platform, and that people are rarely going to share ugly moments from their lives, and that bikini photos aren’t as candid as they look, and filters do an amazing job of smoothing blemishes and brightening eyes. 

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All of these things make beautiful photos, but I like to capture everyday moments from my day to day life. This is probably the most cliche statement uttered by any teenager with an Instagram account and an iPhone. But it’s true. A lot of the times, I end up posting saved Snapchat stories that I casually snapped to freeze a moment. These photos are oftentimes my favorite ones because of how mindlessly I took them. There is no planning or angles or attempts for the best lighting, and they’re really what I’m doing and it’s really what I’m looking at. As much as I love a good group photo, I hate posting them. I also am not a fan of posting photos of myself and when I do, often resort to deleting them within a few days. My favorite photos are often the most simple- like a clear sky with a contrasting palm tree. 

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I like to highlight things that I might see everyday and frame them in that square and make them look special. I love to catch my friends when they aren’t paying attention-like India, standing on the beach with a film camera in hand, Emma sprinting to the ocean in the background.

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Little details that would usually go unnoticed almost always look nice when photographed-



 I’m lucky to live in two really different places-San Francisco & Encinitas- and I like to snap squares of things I love about each place. A view from an apartment building in Pacific Heights 

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For me, photography has always been about grabbing a fleeting moment and freezing it into something tangible. As much as I hate iPhone photography, I do love the convenience and simplicity of snapping a photo with my phone. I don’t like to make a photo into an ordeal and I absolutely hate when my friends pose (most of the time). I’d rather slyly capture the moment and keep it unnoticed. I don’t like breaking the flow of whatever is happening to force a photo to “remember” because this spoils the present. There is a difference in creating moments that never happened and using a photo to remember a moment, and I keep this in mind when I am documenting my day and my friends and my surroundings.

Aisling is a student in San Francisco who loves soft pretzels and has her iPhone language set as French.  Find her walking around the city in oversized sweaters, chunky jewelry, and sipping an iced coffee like Nancy from Weeds. Instagram  // Twitter



  1. Anonymous says

    I love how you didn’t tear Essena’s own views apart. I love yours. Your style of photography and thoughts on social media are appreciated 🙂

  2. Pingback: On Photography | the pebble huntress

  3. scarlet says

    “There is a difference in creating moments that never happened and using a photo to remember a moment”. I think this sums it up really well, especially the ‘creating moments that never happened’. very true

  4. Jordyn Smith says

    why do you think that Jay and Alexis’ relationship is fake? I’m not judging, just curious.

    and your Instagram is so enthralling — I often find myself scrolling through because all your photos are gorgeous! hope that didn’t sound too creepy……


  5. Sara says

    i lovvvveeee thissssss! couldn’t have put it into words any better myself. Especially the part about not posting/really liking posed group photos. I feel like these days that’s all that a lot of people post, kind of as proof like “hey im here with these people” and Its not creative at all.

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