Dutch graphic design student Zilla van den Born recently conducted an interesting experiment on the power of phoney and misleading photos on social media. For five weeks, Zilla tricked her family and Facebook friends into thinking that she was on a long and exciting vacation through South East Asia. In reality, she never even set foot outside of her home city of Amsterdam.
One example is the above image of her sitting next to a Buddhist monk in a temple. For the shot, Zilla simply found and visited a Buddhist temple in town.
Another example shows her swimming in beautifully clear water, with a number of tropical fish floating by in the background. Looks like a fairly standard diving trip while out on vacation, right?
Well, the truth is, that photo was taken in her apartment complex’s pool. The fish were Photoshopped into the shot.
Zilla went so far as to redesigning her bedroom so it resembled an Oriental hotel room. As the video below shows, her friends and family didn’t suspect a thing:
So why did she conduct this bizarre social engineering experiment? She simply wanted to get an ‘A’ for the assignment that was given to her by a professor at her university.
The objective was to explore how simple it was to put up a façade and fake a persona on social media. We’re guessing she passed the project, since not a single person caught onto her fakery (with the exception of her boyfriend, who was in on it from the get-go).
In speaking with local news in Amsterdam, she said,
I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.
As part of the project, she created a number of short video clips that show some of the BTS detail that went into making the project a reality. Also included (the last video) is the revealing of it to her friends and family who were caught up in the experiment.
While this ‘vacation’ was more work than it was rest, the project was certainly a success.