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The power of social media

The power of social media

22 September 2014 | Liz Bowen

A student managed to convince her family and friends that she was on a five-week trip around South East Asia – despite never leaving her bedroom!

I know the first thing that pops into your mind – how did they (her family & friends) believe it?!

Zilla Van Den Born, 25, went to crazy lengths to fool her family and friends into thinking she was travelling by photo shopping photographs of herself in tourist attractions and posting images of local food on social media.

She even went as far to Skype her parents while sat on her sofa telling them all about her travels and even texting them in the middle of the night to add to her credibility!

So why exactly did she do it? To show how social media doesn’t always reflect reality (all for a uni project!)

Zilla told the Daily Express: “My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media.”

She went to extreme lengths photo shopping all types of pictures including images of herself on luxury beaches, on tuk tuks, in a butterfly garden and at famous landmarks. The pictures she took of herself snorkelling with tropical fish were taken at her local swimming pool and then photo shopped at home. She even got souvenirs at local markets and went to tanning booths to get a holiday glow to be even more convincing!

Click here to see the images before and after.

The only person who knew was her boyfriend who helped her hide in her apartment for the whole 42 days.

“#8220;We create an online ideal world which reality can no longer match up to. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality in our own lives as well. A picture is perhaps one of the most layered and contradictory objects that we can see around us.”

“It represents the reality, but also falsehood. It is a fact, but also an opinion. It is technology, but also an art form.”

Zilla eventually told her friends and family and filmed their shocked reactions. To document her adventure, she’s put it together in a book called ‘Oh God, Zilla’ to give readers the chance to see her pictures before and after.

“What a picture really shows is not the exact situation as it really was, but what it represents. This ambiguous relationship with reality makes photography so fascinating to me. It raises questions about the representative power of pictures and reality itself.”

I love this! Zilla couldn’t be more right; companies are constantly photo-shopping images to reflect a ‘reality’ that doesn’t exist. It happens all the time in hospitality – companies put out images on social media, which do not reflect the standard of the hotel, food or service and customers are frequently disappointed.

In order to truly reflect your business or company, you have to be honest to your customers. You need to be transparent. Ensure that your social media messaging is open, honest and true to who you are as a company.