By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
Zilla van den Born’s family and friends waved goodbye at the airport, thinking that she would be off to East Asia for the next five weeks. Instead, van den Born snuck back home. This was the start of her university graphics project, which focused on the perception of the world based on social media.
Over the next five weeks, van den Born decorated her bedroom to look like a hotel room, Skyped her parents at random points at night to keep up with her act and posed in the only Buddhist temple in Amsterdam so she could legitimize her trip on social media.
But perhaps most prominently, van den Born photoshopped pictures of herself with fake friends and in temples in East Asia and posted them on Facebook so her friends and family could see what she was up to on this vacation.
“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media – we create an ideal world online which reality can no longer meet,” van den Born stated.
In a series of videos on Vimeo, van den Born reveals how she was able to pull this stunt. In one, she shows her viewers how she was able to easily photoshop herself into these pictures. In another, she explains how she changed her apartment to look like a hotel room in order to Skype with her friends and family, and finally, she exposed herself to her friends and family and compiled numerous reactions to the social experiment in a video.
This social experiment focuses mainly on the fact that people usually post good things on social media, which makes others think that their life is not as fun as everyone else’s. Van den Born had mentioned that people know that models are photoshopped and it is wrong, but no one ever thought to think that people could be manipulating images to make their lives seem better on social media.
Van den Born’s experiment was brilliantly followed through. The amount of time it probably took for her to manipulate the images and find ways to make people believe that she was actually in Thailand and East Asia is very clever and took a lot of dedication.
The point she was trying to make in her project is true, in some aspects. Van den Born used her social experiment to show the world that everything can be manipulated, and that people should not be concerned so heavily about what others think about them, because most things could be manipulated and fabricated, just like her little trip to East Asia. So the next time you’re on social media and are jealous of someone’s life, just know that it could always be fabricated.