Not too long ago, I came across this video by Em Ford,”YOU LOOK DISGUSTING,” which was featured on my Facebook feed. This captivating piece brings together social media and film, two areas that I am deeply invested in both my work and personal life. This content really hit home for me. A few times I caught myself on the verge of tears.
Em Ford is a beauty YouTuber, blogger and filmmaker. On her blog, My Pale Skin, she posts makeup tutorials. Em suffers from adult acne, and many of her makeup tutorials focus on how to cover-up acne. For a number of months she has been posting photos of herself without makeup on social media. Em did this to reach out to other adults who deal with acne or other insecurities that may affect their self-confidence. She received thousands of messages with comments about her face. Based on the comments she received, Em created “YOU LOOK DISGUSTING,” which features real comments that were left on the photos of her face and her silent reactions towards these criticisms. Some comments were loving and supportive, but many were hateful and cruel and reveal the dark side of social media.
You may be wondering: How can people get away with such terrible comments? The answer is anonymity. When it comes to social media, you do not have to disclose personal information like your name or where you are from. Therefore people can trash talk all they want on social media without any repercussion in their real life. Through social media, you can be someone else. In other words you can create another persona, which can be a beautiful thing or a terrible one.
Going along with the theme of creating a persona, with social media you can create a completely different life. Like the filters used on Instagram, you can alter the perception of your life and tailor it how you want the outside world to view it. This being said, you can attain your “perfect” life whatever that may be. Yet the perfection bar is then set higher. People go to unbelievable lengths to compete with other people (who they might not even know) and mold themselves to fit unrealistic standards. Trying to achieve “unrealistic standards” is not a new concept; we have been dealing with this theme for years. However, social media enhances those standards.
There are many wonderful things that come from social media. Between the thousands of miles that separate us, social media channels can bring brilliant and creative minds together to create an amazing community. It connects us. But there is a very dark and cruel side that can be brought out in people when consequences for one’s actions do not exist. Em is able to turn a deaf ear to the haters and even spin those nasty comments into an empowering message. But there are many people who are cyberbullied who are not as strong as Em.