The Others

Is social media making us ‘fake’?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about social media (and, by extension, blogging) and how ‘fake’ it all is.

The perfectly-staged Instagram photos. The outfits that don’t seem remotely suitable for any “real life” situation. The always-chirpy, unicorns-and-rainbows personalities so many bloggers seem to posses. All of those macarons and Starbucks cups and … pineapples. Seriously: what is it with all the pineapples?

In Blog Land, everyone’s homes are pristine and white, everyone’s closets are filled with endless amounts of designer clothes, and everyone’s days are spent drinking perfect cups of coffee (with the froth on the top placed just so) in cute little cafes with picturesque, Instagrammable interiors. There are no bad days, no moments of stress, no sinks full of dirty dishes, no chipped nailpolish or really bad hair days. It just can’t be real, can it?

Well, no: it can’t, and it isn’t. As I mentioned in my post on how you can like shoes and still be an intelligent adult, most bloggers (myself included) carefully select which aspects of their lives they want to share with the internet. I, for instance, will happily share my random acts of stupidity, and I’m not ashamed to admit when I’ve had a bad week, or am feeling a little low: I think those things are important to share, because they’re honest and relatable, and help remind people that there’s more to my life than just shoes and dresses, and endless posts about lipstick.

When it comes to photography, however, I’m a lot more picky about what I’ll choose to show. I don’t photograph the outfits I hated, the lipstick that made me look like a corpse, or the state of my floors at the end of a busy week. Why would I? For that matter, why would anyone?

The fact is, I don’t think it’s just fashion bloggers who are “guilty” (I’m putting that word in inverted commas, because I’m not sure there’s an actual reason to feel guilt) of trying to present their best selves to the world. It’s certainly easier for bloggers, because people only see the things we decide to show them, but that doesn’t mean that people in “real life” don’t at least attempt to do the same thing. Be honest: if you invited someone to your home, would you give it a quick clean and tidy before they arrived? Would you comb your hair, make sure your clothes weren’t stained, maybe buy some fresh flowers to put in the window? Or would you just greet them in your pyjamas, with the house in chaos around you?

I think most people would do the former: I know I would. When we bought our new house, for instance, we threw a house-warming party, and invited around 30 people. I spent the entire day of the party cleaning the house, and tidying it up, including packing away some things that would normally be out on display, like the dog’s bed and food bowls, and all of his toys, (I have to add here that the dog was spending the night with my parents, so he wasn’t left without food or toys!) so that our party guests weren’t constantly tripping over them. I also moved some pieces of furniture, so that people would have more room to circulate, and wouldn’t be knocking over ornaments or banging into random belongings all night.

My assumption was that these are the kind of things most people do when they’re expecting a large number of guests. When people started to arrive, and be shown around the house, however, I became increasingly embarrassed by their reactions to how tidy it was. “OMG, it’s so CLEAN!” they kept saying in amazement. “How do you keep it so tidy? Where’s all your stuff?!” I was a little surprised by this, because while I DO like to keep my home as clean as possible, I HAD made an extra-special effort for this party, and had put things away that would normally be out. Yes, my house is usually quite tidy, but it’s not normally THAT tidy: and as for “all the stuff” – well, it was crammed into closets, so that people wouldn’t fall over a dog bed on their way to use the bathroom.

As I said, I’d assumed everyone did this kind of thing before hosting a party, but people were SO astonished by how tidy my house was that I actually started to feel like a giant fake- like I’d tricked everyone into thinking I was something I wasn’t. I felt I was getting credit I didn’t deserve, basically: people were assuming that because my house was neat on that occasion, that it must be like that all the time, and that made me feel like a complete fraud.

My point in all of this (I do have one, I promise), is that if I’m fake as a blogger, then I’m fake in “real life” too. I think most people are – IF you want to define “fake” as “trying to show your best side to the world”. I, on the other hand, prefer to define it as a simple human nature. Most of try to avoid letting people see too much of the “behind the scenes” aspects of our lives. We don’t go to parties in our sweatpants, and we quickly pick up the house when we know someone’s on the way over.

Sometimes, of course, it’s not always possible to be always at your “best” – and that’s absolutely fine. I think this is the main difference between blogging and “real life” in this respect: as a blogger, it’s much easier to keep up the façade. In real life, people can turn up unexpectedly, and get an up-close view of the dirty laundry pile and last night’s dishes. Or you decide you can’t be bothered to put on makeup to walk the dog, and then bump into every single one of your neighbours (this has happened to me too many times to count).

In Blog Land, by contrast, that doesn’t happen. I’d have to actively CHOOSE to photograph the dirty dishes, and, be serious: who’s going to do that? And who, for that matter, even wants to see it? Because one of the difficult things about blogging is that the people who criticise fashion bloggers for being “fake”, are the same people who’ll ALSO criticise them for having chipped nail polish, or a hair out of place. I see this all the time on snark sites: “you’d think she could have tidied up her living room before taking that photo,” people will say, or – in the case of professional bloggers- “For God’s sake, this is her JOB: you’d think she could at least put in a bit of effort.”

Then there are all of the, “Why did she* think this outfit was blog-worthy?” or “Who’d bother posting a photo of THAT?” comments, which go a long way towards convincing me that while blog readers often SAY they want bloggers to be “real”, they don’t always mean it – and, in the bid to be relatable, it’s possible to go too far in the opposite direction.

(*Disclaimer: I’m not saying I’ve had any of these comments myself, I hasten to add – they’re just things I’ve seen said about bloggers in general…)

So, ARE fashion bloggers fake? I think some of them undoubtedly are: I’m sure there are some bloggers out there who are intentionally creating the illusion of a perfect lifestyle which they don’t actually have. I think most of us, however, are just doing the best we can to create beautiful content – the type that people actually want to read and share. Because people may claim to want a “warts and all” view of the bloggers they follow, and some might genuinely mean it. But let’s face it: you’re not going be pinning the photos of the “warts”, and photos of thrown-together outfits and unkempt hair aren’t going to keep you coming back.

How can bloggers ensure that they strike the right balance: that they remain “real”, without being SO real that no one wants to read them any more? It’s a tricky one, and I guess the answer will be different for everyone. In my case, I try to do it with words. I don’t have the confidence to post photos of outfits I consider unflattering, and I’d be embarrassed to show you my house when it’s a mess, so I post the photos I feel comfortable with sharing, and try to use the words which accompany them to let you know that my life is far from perfect, and that a photograph doesn’t tell you the whole story.

I also rely on my readers to draw those conclusions for themselves. I credit you all with the intelligence to understand that when a blogger posts a photo of her pristine white desk, she quite possibly pushed her dirty coffee mug and the remains of her lunch out of the shot, first: and I’m sure you’d all do exactly the same.

books by Amber Eve
  • Since bloggers are publishers, I think they have an absolute right to cherrypick the image they project to the world. In some ways I think people have been misled by more confessional blogs into thinking that’s what a blog must be (and they’re also overlooking that EVEN THOSE are carefully curated by the person who is writing them – yes, even if they appear to be sharing their emotional bowel movements to the world on a daily basis).

    Personally, I like to follow blogs that show snippets of personality, of real-ness, and your Random Acts of Stupidity stuff makes me laugh and feel normal, because I do things like that too! But I sort of love that your outfit posts feel groomed and polished and aspirational, because I don’t think any of those are bad things, and I think they go hand in hand with the subject matter which is, after all, all about how you present yourself to the world (and see your role in it).

    I couldn’t agree more that we are all, constantly, reviewing how we interact with the world – I can’t see how blogging would be any different.

    tl;dr – Yup. What you said.

    February 10, 2015
      • Carol-Anne


        It’s hard to consider you a Publisher when you refer to “quotation marks” as inverted commas…..Just saying.

        February 11, 2015
        • Carol-Anne


          I’m retracting my nasty remark, as I just searched and see that this is a totally appropriate way to refer to quotation marks…..I’d just never heard of it before!

          I apologize (and I like your blog, which I just discovered!)

          February 11, 2015
  • Love this post. I clean the house when I know I’m expecting guests and I hide things that shouldn’t be “on display”. I do the same with my blog because mainly I write for me and, in 1 year, when I look back of that post, I don’t want to see dirty dishes (all tucked up in the dishwasher anyway) or a picture where I look like I’m 5 months pregnant (size S and it happens, very strange).

    I think I am showing my real me every time I post something. I wear heels all the time, not just for outfit pictures and I try to have a tidy house. For me it’s natural to refresh my lipstick and brush my hair a few times a day when I’m at an event and I would do the same if I worked in an office… so why should I post a picture with “crazy” hair and no lipstick?

    February 10, 2015
  • Great post Amber, and so very true too. In a way I think it highlights a need within modern society to have everything under control. We tidy before visitors come because we need to be seen as being a wonderful housewife as well as excellent career woman and all around fabulous person too. The publishing of your best images and the online persona you create is most definitely an extension of this, showing anything less (the dirty dishes, the chipped nail varnish) just hints at something slightly less than perfect, and perfect seems to be something society is demanding of us ladies. Interestingly, I’m not entirely sure that men feel that same pressure to ‘keep up appearances’ but that’s just my generalisation of the day 🙂 anyway, didn’t mean to get so deep, but it’s definitely a accurate post, I think. X

    February 10, 2015
  • Selina


    I feel like this also applies to people on, the hot page people always look pristine and incredible, thanks to the photography and photoshopping and even with the most boring outfit or almost no outfit, they get a tonne of praise and comments about how amazing their life is and most of them keep it up on their blog, apart from a few honest few. For me, that’s the danger of blogs and Instagram, you think their life is like that 1 perfect captured second but all the time and sometimes wish to have that too

    February 10, 2015
  • Completely agree with your sentiments – to be fair, I rarely disagree with anything you say on matters like this as you just talk sense. What you’re talking about here ties in with my constant inner battle about outfit posts and the worry that my readers will think ‘she can’t surely be telling me she’d wear high-heels when walking through a field?’ every time I’m surrounded by nature in a slightly inappropriate outfit. No, of course I wouldn’t usually – but who wants to see me in my wellies and parka in every. single. outfit. post. That’s not what blogging outfits is about! The joy is creating outfits I really wear and then photographing them in a beautiful surrounding – the two things don’t always quite match up because of the reliance a lot of us have on natural light! If that makes me fake then quite simply that baffles me… I imagine that thoughts along the lines of fakery would mostly come from those who don’t blog themselves!

    February 10, 2015
  • TinaD


    I agree with Alex. I appreciate the aspirational aspects of both your outfit posts and your home posts, and occasionally attempt to emulate them (the Boden crops and funnelneck for at-home wear? Cherry.) even though I live in a decaying house with 3 Gods of Chaos and you live with a tidy guy and a dog :). People seem to have two ways of going on: the schadenfreude (or catharsis?) of tragedy–think Extreme Hoarders–and the pretty delusions of romance–think Pinterest boards or Jane Austen films.

    February 10, 2015
  • Myra


    We all do it, I remember one occasion when someone appeared unexpectedly and not only was the house a mess, I had no appropriate food either to offer them, so while Raymond and the other husband went for take away, I hoovered and tidied lol.
    I love Terry’s opening his cupboard lol

    February 10, 2015
  • I appreciate the photos of perfection and the funny stories. Not so much because you seem more or less “real” in them but because the stories make me laugh since you are such a good writer. I don’t bother buying fashion magazines anymore because they have gotten too strange and unrealistic. They have gone beyond the boundaries of what I could or would want to look like with bizarre poses and uninspiring outfits. I don’t need inspiration on how to dress around the house by myself, I’m quite experienced at that, but I do appreciate ideas from well dressed fashion bloggers. Plus all of this doesn’t cost me a cent. (Or pence.) Thanks and have a great day.

    February 10, 2015
  • I cleaned the house this weekend because electricians were coming to make the place a mess. I think it’s totally normal to want to seem neater and cleaner (and smarter and funnier and generally better) than we are.

    For what it’s worth, I think you do a very good job of explaining how imperfect life is in your writing – your pictures are always gorgeous but your stories of your attempts to create them crack me up.

    February 10, 2015
  • I don’t have much to add- only that you’re one of the few fashion bloggers I read (and by that I mean I check here every morning) and that you’ve always seemed “real” to me.

    I think it is just common sense to hide the mess and I would as well. I think the only time I’d show a picture of a mess would be if I were baking something. I’m a messy baker and am often surprised by how far I can spread flour and such-like.

    February 10, 2015
  • Wendy


    I agree. If I wanted to see an unkempt house and poorly assembled outfits I would just look in the mirror and around my house. I come to these blogs to be INSPIRED. Inspired to shop my closet, to get out of my comfort zone, to get new ideas. You can’t please all the fashionistas out there and you shouldn’t try. Thanks, very good article.

    February 10, 2015
  • Stacey


    There’s a difference between writing about a stupid thing that you did, or had happen to you, and actually providing photographic proof. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were a blogger I would be much more likely to write about how I just rolled down a hill with my dress tucked up in my underwear, rather than having a picture of it – step by step (or roll by roll!). Same with the house status. Everyone knows what a dirty house looks like. Tell stupid stories. The stupid stories don’t necessarily need a photograph. I hope that makes some sort of word-jumble sense!

    My house is usually reasonably neat. Beds made, dirty laundry in the laundry room with the door shut, food put up, dishes if not in the dishwasher are at least in the sink, etc. We’re all dressed in clothes that we would be comfortable running out in public in – if not the door doesn’t get answered.We used to have a family friend that would just pop in with no warning. Her house was a disaster at all times. Dirty dishes piled on the floor (with food still on them, she bragged she only did dishes once a month!) Laundry piled up everywhere (same deal) beds not made, etc. It’s her house, so her right to keep it how she wanted even if it drove me insane to go near. Anyway, during one of her pop-in’s, I left the room to get something and I hear her tell her daughter to not touch anything because my house “was like a museum.” I asked her about that comment later, and she said she was always uncomfortable to be in my house because it was “too neat.”

    February 10, 2015
  • Irene


    As a reader, I find myself less interested in the blogs of people who seem to lead absolutely perfect lives 24/7, always looking marvelously put together in the most unpractical outfits, extremely fit and beautiful, getting new designer goods every other day, etc., because I can’t relate to them. Don’t get me wrong, I read blogs for style inspiration and would not want to see anybody’s dirty dishes on Instagram. I put make up on everyday (something my husband can never understand!), like to dress as glamorous as possible for every occasion, and show the best version of myself to the world. But I enjoy those little snippets of bloggers’ real lives, the “I didn’t have such a great week” or the “maybe I should have chosen another pair of shoes!”, because they make them more relatable, more real, closer to their readers. It also bugs me when someone who’s not living a certain lifestyle tries to fake it in a very obvious manner through photos and pretentious writing, or wears certain outfits just to try to stand out or copy trends that have proven popular for other bloggers (I live in NYC so I see that every Fashion Week on the streets). In short, I follow bloggers for inspiration in fashion and style, and while I expect them to edit what they show to the world, I don’t want to see a complete fabrication.
    (Your blog is the perfect example of what I like, and one of the few I bother reading)

    February 11, 2015
      • Irene


        Goodness, people love to complain, don’t they? Then again, it’s impossible to please everyone, there will always be someone finding faults in what one does or how one looks or what one says. Just do what you feel is right and works for you, there’s many of us here who love your blog(s) and support you.

        February 13, 2015
  • Sophikita


    I laughed at your tidying the house before the workmen came round. It reminds me that for years I would always, always wash and dry my hair just before going to the hairdresser. Even though they wash it for you straight away afterwards. I couldn’t bear to have them touch my hair and think it was grubby.

    February 11, 2015
  • Love this post and you make a great point – all of us in our daily lives want to show the world our best side.

    On the other hand though, putting up a magical, life is wonderful front up all the time turns me off. I’m not saying that means I want a blogger to share every single part of their life with the internet but it feels like there’s a bit of a barrier when you see some bloggers who make out everything is wonderful. I mean, everyone has a bad day now and then, but when someone acts like everything is perfect, it makes it feel less personal and I read blogs for the people behind the blog.

    I don’t expect a blogger to share everything with the internet, I don’t do that and I wouldn’t expect anyone too. But I want to feel like I’m reading about a real person and I’m talking to a real person. I hope that makes sense.

    February 11, 2015
  • I could so relate to your comments about being bemused by peoples surprise that your house was clean when you were expecting them. The friends I had over last night teased told me that the new “trend” in parties was to not clean the house so that a pristine house doesn’t make your guests feel bad about the state of their own homes! The world has gone mad

    February 14, 2015
  • Amber I couldn’t have put it better myself! So refreshing to read someone admitting that blogging is a little bit “smoke and mirrors” – but you’re quite right when you say that we all tidy up the house before anyone comes round. I don’t want people to see my house in a mess, and I don’t want people to see too much negativity/me in a mess on my blog.

    I read blogs for inspiration; I WANT to see the best photos. So that’s why I show the best photos on my own blog too. Though I know that you, like me, occasionally show the bloopers… they always make me laugh! 😉

    Thanks for a very insightful read!

    Catherine x

    February 16, 2015
  • I really, REALLY love this post. I just started blogging recently and I feel like this puts into words how I’m feeling about the whole process. I also feel like it reflects a life lesson I, and probably most people, need — that we should always try to put our best foot forward, but that we need to cut ourselves and others some slack because perfection isn’t realistically achievable.

    Thanks lady for posting this! I would be honored if you have the time to check out my blog too. 🙂

    February 17, 2015
  • Julia


    When did this become a thing that has to be explained or justified to people? In my opinion, blogs are like online magazines. I expect them to be planned, perfected, and edited. I look at them for inspiration. If I wanted leggings and yolk stained sweats featured in every day outfits, I’d look in the mirror!

    February 17, 2015
  • Great post! I am not a fashion blogger or a lifestyle blogger, I am quite random and I don’t think of myself as inspirational. I am just sharing and meeting people. I do not make an attempt to be perfect and am quite willing to show a few warts, or a bad outfit or a bad hair day, but that’s the style of my blog and you are right, even though there are many flaws and messes I don’t mind showing I am still choosing what I will and won’t or don’t show. Generally it is based on whether or not I think it is potentially interesting, and less on how it makes me come across. If I thought my dirty dishes were interesting or related to what I was writing about, I would include a photo of them. In some ways my blog is like a personal journal, but the I would be somewhat choosy about what I wrote in a personal journal too. Those little locks with a key don’t really work you know!

    February 23, 2015
  • I completely get what you mean about presenting your best side/best pictures, because duh, why wouldn’t you. There is a line when a blog can feel soul-less to me, but as long as the blogger has a real voice that doesn’t happen. I enjoy inspiring fashion and beauty posts, there’s no shame in them, and people who pick apart individual blogs have too much time on their hands. I can’t even begin to comprehend the amount of work that goes into a good lifestyle blog like yours, on the rare occasions I have tried to do beauty or fashion posts I really have come to appreciate how much work it is just to make a still photograph not look like a dog turd (so to speak!). 🙂

    March 26, 2015
  • Regina


    Wait, cream bow, cream clutch, yellow shoes? What fakery is this????? LOL

    February 18, 2017
  • I am exactly the same; when it’s just me and the dog at home, the house is tidy, but I probably don’t vacuum as often as I should (the dog just brings more grass seeds and dirt inside immediately after I’ve spent an hour doing it anyways), or put away the projects that I’m working on and I definitely leave the dog’s multiple beds out. But if people are coming over I tidy, vacuum and put his stuff away (or make it neat). It’s what my mum taught me about putting my best foot on display. But also, I’m so proud of my ability to (mostly) keep things neat.

    I get what people are saying about bloggers cherry picking the best bits of their lives and I understand how some can feel it gives unreasonable expectations of what an ideal life is. But equally, I’ve seen people posting pictures of themselves crying and seen backlash against those ‘unattractive and whingey’ posts.

    Bloggers who I respect, like you, have a beautiful aesthetic but also are willing to acknowledge when they’re having a hard time (your recent time is a prime example), but also understand that they may need to balance exactly what they show in public. I’ve been trying to grow my own Instagram and Facebook in time for a new blog relaunch shortly, and I’ve been writing a little about when I’m struggling, but choosing to post a picture of what makes me happy, or of my feet not my face, to go along with these posts. It’s my way of balancing, but not showing too much.

    That being said, you can’t please everyone.

    February 20, 2017
  • Michelle


    I’ve never referred to a beauty blogger as fake based on outfits or the way her house looks. I’ve referred to them as fake when they warp their true appearance, like purposely altering their body shapes, photoshopping their features to look different than they are in real life, face swapping with celebrity bodies for photos, using filters that change their appearance, using hair extensions or getting cosmetic surgery then claiming it’s all natural etc. that kind of stuff is so harmful especially to our new generation of females who already at ages 7 feel like they don’t measure up because they’re surrounded by FAKE influencers everywhere. It’s on tv too, in ads. It has nothing to do with whether you wear heels or your sink has a dish in it or not. We aren’t that dumb to know everybody has to clean their homes like everyone else. I was looking for an article that touches on the real issue, but most just seem to avoid the elephant in the room and focus on something that isn’t really an issue for most people that talk about influencers as fake.

    July 13, 2022