In our non-stop, interconnected world of social media and instant messaging, we’re used to being bombarded with images and advertising. Even if we leave networks or try to look away, we’re still subjected to content by those around us. Maybe it’s the fellow commuter who’s watching YouTube in the train seat next to you or the businessperson at the café, who’s implementing meaningful synergy, vertical integration and opportunities for learning and development on LinkedIn in front of you in the coffee queue. We’re even subjected to kids flossing on free-to-air ads about the National Broadband Network these days. Whatever you do, you cannot escape.
Just about every social network or piece of online content tries to impose its own illusion view of the world—a reality distortion field, if you will. Occasionally, however, our eyes are opened to the reality of the content that is produced; we see a moment (behind the scenes) that breaks that illusion of photographic perfection in our scrolling news feeds. I had such a moment recently at the local Eat Street food market in Wollongong.
What you can see above is the creation of what I am calling the ‘gyros distortion field’ by two people who work at a Mediterranean food stand (pronounced ‘yih-ross’). The woman to the left is holding a phone in one hand and a gyros in the other, lining up the delicious food item between the lens and the back of her colleague’s shirt, which bears the logo of their business. Undoubtedly this was intended for Instagram or some other feed. It’s quite a typical format for a street-food shot—one that people now accept and scroll past perhaps without thinking how it was constructed.
I happened to be walking past these two while they took the photo and couldn’t help but chuckle as they looked ridiculous in the process. Here is this woman, taking a photo of a wrap with no one else around, apart from a colleague who apparently seems intent on ignoring her. Years ago, people would have found this odd but no one other than I stopped to watch them.
To me, this is the modern social-media equivalent of watching boy bands dancing or hip-hop artists rapping in a music video. It all looks pretty slick when the footage is edited together with quick cuts, however to be there on set would mean simply watching a bunch of guys dancing and flicking cash at no one. There is no physical audience present, only the eventual one that’s glued to a screen.
Do you ever stop to wonder how posts are constructed? Next time such a thing pops up in your feed, spare a moment to consider the poor souls who had to make fools of themselves in public.