Chapter 2 - Influences Subchapter: Technology

Online representation of relationships

Fake it till you make it, or not

You’re busy crafting your digital identity and have a number of different social media accounts where you follow people that you think are cool or attractive or interesting.

There could be any number of reasons why one person chooses to follow another person. It could also be that people you admire follow this person, and so you decide to follow them too.

 

 

A social media influencer is someone with a large following who can persuade and influence many others because of the size of their audience.

Attracting enough followers to be considered an influencer is a combination of hard work and luck, the main goal being to edge out the competition.

The digital identity of successful influencers is a work in progress. To keep pace with the competition, they constantly tune and enhance their identity to be even more exciting and aspirational to their followers.

A lot of it isn’t real.

Much of the imagery you’ll see online is modified or enhanced to depict something better than real. It’s unrealistic. It’s a fantasy.

 

Character in ski gear in front of a snowy mountain; zoomed out version of scene shows same character in their bedroom with the mountainous scene just a picture behind them on the wall.

And yet, many people feel they should aspire to emulate this unreal imagery. Many feel pressured to only show the very best (most photogenic) parts of themselves and their lives to make things look more exciting than they really are.

 

You’re more than an enhanced dating app profile

Dating sites and apps are hugely popular. The pressure to stand out from the many thousands of others sees many users enhance their profiles and bio pics to appear as attractive as possible.

To want to appear as attractive or interesting as possible is natural.

But poses in photos are often setup or faked, images are enhanced with photo editing tools, and bio details exaggerated or made up. And all of this is done to get the right swipe or the super-like.

This is legal, but it’s not real.

 

Porn is not sex education 

Some young people watch porn. On some websites, it’s difficult to avoid ads that encourage a click through to explicit images and videos. 

 

Character with thought bubbles (water splash, peach & eggplant emoji) looking curiously at computer screen with another character who has blurred out genitals.

 

It’s natural for someone to want to explore their sexuality and how they might connect with another person in a physically intimate relationship.  

But porn is not sex education, and it’s not what sex and physical intimacy is really about. It’s visual entertainment that uses paid actors who have every single move they make choreographed and filmed to appeal to the viewing audience. 

Most people don’t look like the actors in pornographic images or videos. The actors’ looks may be digitally altered and they may even have surgically ‘enhanced’ parts of their bodies.

Relationships depicted in pornography are very rarely respectful, so modelling your intimate interactions on what you might see on a porn site is a really bad idea. 

Interactions between characters in porn videos usually involve an imbalance of power and involve characters not being able to give free consent without coercion or pressure.  

Messages about safe sex (such as using condoms) are often absent. 

Messages that it’s sexy to be aggressive are harmful and false.

Pornography can harm a person’s sense of self, damage relationships, be unhelpful for positive relationships, and affect their psychological wellbeing.

It can also make it difficult for someone to understand what consent means or looks like.

Healthy and respectful intimate relationships - where two people are attracted to each other, care for each other, want to get to know each other, spend shared time together doing grocery shopping and house cleaning and sleeping side by side - might not be hugely entertaining for anyone else. But they are real. And they are rewarding.

 

Two characters with love heart drawn above them pushing shopping trolley.