Trish, do u use filters? I know they’re controversial, what are your thoughts on them?
Hi there! First and foremost, I want to thank you for your great question. Thus far, we haven’t touched on filters in much detail on Ask Trish, which is why I’m so glad you’ve raised them. They are, as you allude to, a popular but sometimes controversial social media feature (we’ll dive into why in this post!), and it’s absolutely worth thinking about how we can all build healthier relationships with them.
To briefly answer your questions: I sometimes use filters, though not regularly (I don’t at all on Ask Trish’s TikTok!) and my thoughts on them, in a nutshell, are: they’re fun, but in some cases, warp our self-image in a way that isn’t super great. The good news is, that a little #filter education and tips/tricks can go a long way. That’s why, in this week’s post, I’ll both 1) briefly describe what filters are (and why they’re so important) and 2) offer some advice on how you can use them in a way that’s affirming, not harmful. Let’s get into it!
First up: what are filters? Simply put, filters are photo-editing tools that use fancy technologies, like artificial intelligence, to alter the appearance of facial features. Filters can do everything from augmenting your appearance (e.g. add bunny ears) to supposedly “perfect” it (e.g. by changing the brightness or the way your skin looks). Filters are popular across many platforms, from social media – whether it’s Instagram or TikTok – to even video communications tools, like Zoom (have you tried the “Touch Up My Appearance” feature? That’s a filter!). Indeed, according to the Newport Institute, more than 90% of youth in the US, France, and UK, use augmented-reality powered filters on the Snapchat app. Augmented reality, by the way, is when real-world objects are enhanced with some digital information, like graphics or audio. Filters are one type of AR!
Filters are an important social media feature not only because they’re currently so popular but because AR technology is projected to grow in the years to come. Indeed, as the lines between the real world and virtual worlds begin to blur, AR tech will only become a greater part of our lives. All that’s to say: there’s good reason to think about how to use AR tech like filters in a healthy way.
So how exactly do we do that? Well, I’ve got two key tips for you! Tip #1: If you’re thinking about using a filter, take an extra minute or two to reflect on why you want to use that filter. Maybe you think the filter is hilarious, or know a friend or family member will love it, or you’re just genuinely interested in seeing what it looks like on you. (For a lot of folks, I know, that last reason is a big part of why they’re into filters.) But on the other hand, you may also feel some pressure to use the filter, potentially because you think it’ll make you look better or make other people respect or like you more. And if you do feel that way, you’re not alone – once again, according to the Newport Institute, “90% of young adult women in a City University of London study said they used filters because they felt pressured to look a certain way on social media.” (I know; it’s a shocking statistic.) But using a filter because you think it’ll help you look a certain, possibly “better” way is not healthy. For a lot of us, though, using filters to supposedly “enhance” our appearance has become second nature. So taking a second to analyze our motivations – and affirm that we don’t need filters or any person’s validation to feel beautiful – can be a powerful way to set some boundaries with filters.
Tip #2: In that vein^, my second tip is to try not to use filters all the time! Part of eliminating any pressure you feel to use a filter – and changing the way you see yourself – is celebrating you as you are, untouched and unenhanced. So the next time you’re about to post a selfie or a vacay pic, and you go to hit a filter, take a beat, and consider going with #nofilter. (You can even use #nofilter in your caption, which has indeed become a very popular hashtag.) The best part is, not only will you get a little space from filters without even knowing it, you’ll be a powerful role model for so many of your followers. As the last 90% statistic^ highlighted, many people feel pressured to use a filter because they think others will too, and that’s the “standard” on social media. When you show them that it’s okay to go without a filter for a post, they just might try it too. And that can ultimately help them set healthier boundaries with filters. So do it for yourself…and your friends!
I hope this week’s post offered some valuable food for thought on a popular social media feature that’s likely to only become more popular in the years ahead. With a little reflection and self-affirmation, you can ensure your relationship with filters are fun, not anxiety-ridden. Next week, we’ll take on a new topic – and that topic might just be yours! As always, I want to encourage you to share your Internet-related musings or thoughts – whether similar to this post or completely different – here. Don’t forget: anything is on the table, so don’t worry about whether your question is “relevant”: whatever you’re wondering about, I want to help you navigate it. I can’t wait to hear from you!
And finally, one last request – if you can, give Ask Trish some love (likes, shares, comments) on social media! With your help, we can grow this amazing community.
Talk to you all again soon,