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  • Writer's pictureRev. Joel L. Tolbert

Filters and Fakes

On social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook, people are given the option of filters to "improve" their physical appearance. Some filters automatically adjust for lighting or put cute effects into photos. Other more insidious filters adjust a person's skin tone (to make it lighter) or a person's facial geometry (to make them more symmetrical), or remove spots, wrinkles, or distinct features to make the person look like models, (aka air-brushed).

We are also given the option to post only the positive moments in our lives, not post the negative or harder moments. People often post their successes, accomplishments, and moments of harmony. People seldom post about the arguments, the mistakes, or the failures. We post beautiful family photos or cute couple photos when things are going well. But we are silent when the family is in turmoil, or when the relationship is rocky.

Social media encourages us to put up filtered selves and fake versions of our lives.

The filtered image is not a real person. The filtered person doesn't exist. You cannot have dinner with the filtered person. Yet, plenty of people see the filtered version and assume they are real, while never knowing what the real person behind the filter looks like. Even worse, the person compares their real selves against the filtered fake person on Social media. That comparison leads to a degrading sense of beauty or self worth, since we can never become the fake filtered person on screen. (I say never, but plenty of people are seeking out plastic surgery to look less like their real selves and more like their filtered selves)

Our real lives are not on social media. We only put up the bits and pieces that make us look good, or may impress. What about all the other bits and pieces that are just as real, but hurt, places we need help, comfort, advice, or healing?

Today, I invite us to prayerfully consider a new way of being on social media and IRL (in real life). Be more honest with yourself and others. Be more vulnerable with yourself and others. Risk being the real you with others and look deeper for the real person in others. If you find someone who cannot be real with you, ask them to take the filters down for a moment and to share with your the unspoken side of their life. If they are too scared or ashamed of their true selves, show them grace and love and stay with them as they risk being who they really are with you. Go through life without needing filters all over yourself, and without expecting or accepting an edited reality from others. Let's strive to be real and authentic with one another.

Then, if you really want to make a change in yourself, in your heart, mind, soul, or body, do the hard work to make that change in reality, not just beyond a filter, or in the over-edited social media world.

Blessing, Laughter, and Loving be yours,

Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

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