I read a great line recently, noting that most of us are neither as attractive as we are in our own social media photos, nor as ugly as we are in the photos of our friends. It’s true, right? The reason for this is twofold, the first being that—doh—the picture we post of ourselves tend to be the most flattering. The second is that we don’t scrutinize the appearances of others the way we scrutinize our own, meaning that the “totally hideous” photo of you may not be as bad as you suggest.
You don’t mention what makes it so unflattering, so I’ll go ahead and assume it’s the usual stuff: you look heavier and/or jowlier and/or chin-ier than you would like to be. Or your hair looks bad. Or your outfit looks unflattering. Or your expression makes you look ten years older than you are.
Am I warm?
You refer to your friend as “so-called” suggesting (I think) that the post is some kind of nefarious, passive aggressive plot, but unless you are part of some modern day Mean Girls clique, you may be getting ahead of yourself. Isn’t it more likely that your friend doesn’t realize how unflattering the photo is (or how unflattering you believe it is). Think about it: when you look at a group shot of yourself and your friends, who do you look at first? Answer: yourself. Reason: because most of us are embarrassingly narcissistic at heart, and ten times more so in the world of social media.
In this interview, Facebook engineer Arturo Bejar explains that the majority of “flagged photo” notifications they receive are not about exposed privates or violent images, but unflattering pics of themselves posted by friends. The company actually changed their programming a few years back so that people have to explain the reason for the flagging upfront. If it is “I don’t like this photo of myself,” it goes into a different, less urgent category that is probably marked something along the lines of “delusional supermodel wannabes.”
That is Facebook telling you to get over yourself and I’m going to tell you the same thing.
It’s not that I don’t feel your pain. Just yesterday a friend emailed me photos from a birthday party last week and the one of me is, well…let’s just say it’s not a framer. I will admit that my first thought was thank God she had emailed the pictures rather than posting them on social media. But if she had posted them, I think I would have forced myself to grin and bear it.
Because of course you can ask her to take it down, but is that really the person you want to be? What happens the next time someone posts a photo you’re not fond of?
I mean, really—the people who already know you know what you actually look like (for better or for worse), and the people who don’t know you don’t care. Which leaves only you and your bruised ego.
You don’t mention what social media program we’re talking about here. If it is Facebook and your friend has tagged you in the photo, you can always un-tag yourself. I’m pretty sure this is not an option with Instagram, but then the nature of Instagram is so fleeting that the offending photo is already yesterday’s news.
More lasting is your relationship to your own appearance and the level to which you indulge your own vanity. Instead of wallowing, why not channel your internet energy into something more important…like the Taylor Swift/Calvin Harris feud. Save your own bad blood for something more substantial.