Social Media Filters: Fun, Dangerous Or Just A Veil For Narcissism?

​Twitter has announced plans to unveil a new range of stickers and filters. But, is it for the better?

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When was the last time you received a picture from a friend that didn't feature a licking dog filter? 

Or a floral crown? 

Or an eye-bursting river of rainbow vomit? 

Already today, I've received four Snapchat-filtered selfies from friends, ranging from one sitting with animated tears streaming from their eyes (she's still in that post-Glastonbury phase) to another who looked undeniably glorious thanks to that dewy, skin-enhancing filter.

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👻 - karliekloss

A photo posted by Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) on

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With over 100 million users, Snapchat and its ever-revolving filters have transformed the way we communicate, encouraging us to share brief visual snapshots our our lives as opposed to 'real' conversation over the phone or via text. 

But, with the recent announcement that Twitter plans to launch a range of stickers (basically new filters) in the next few months, it poses the question: Are social media filters innocent fun, quite dangerous or a thin veil for narcissism? 

I admit, I'm close to breaking point with social media filters. 

I've lost count of the number of times I've sat talking to friends at dinner or mid-conversation to find them fully-engrossed with choosing which filter to add to a selfie. 

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There's nothing wrong with appreciating one's looks, neither is taking a selfie, but by wasting time choosing the 'perfect' lens through which to let people view us – be it for comedic effect or self-esteem – seems a dangerous extension of impossible beauty standards and heightens the premium we place on looking a certain way.  

While many of the filters play on the fun side of selfies (who doesn't love a face-swap?) others are potentially damaging our self-confidence.

Take, for example, the floral crown filter that also lightens a user's skin tone. 

While many people believe it to make them appear more attractive (adding lighting effects, ridding the user of blemishes, skin discoloration and texture, softening the focus), it unnecessarily whitens skin and thins out facial features, ultimately portraying an unrealistic and unattainable version of ourselves. 

We're all guilty of wanting to portray an envious lifestyle to friends and followers – after all, people always prefer to post the party, not the hangover – but with the invasion of more social media filters, are we losing a sense of self and becoming more introverted? 

We asked the ELLE team to find out whether filters are a bane or bonus of life: 

For: 

Social Media Manager Unsah Malik says: 

'The point of Snapchat is to be fun and goof around a little. I think the same applies for the filters they provide. If someone decides to take selfies that look like they've been edited in Photoshop (flower crown and alien face shape filter comes to mind), what's the big deal? If you don't like them, don't use them.'

Digital News and Features Editor Bibby Sowray says: 'Guys, it's just a filter'

Against: 

Culture Director Lena De Casparis says: 

'In these fairly miserable days, if people want to have a laugh by adding some dog ears or a floral crown to their selfie to cheer themselves up, who am I to stop them.'

'I just wish the filters on offer were a bit less naff. Can someone give me some Frida Kahlo brows, a Rosie the Riveter headscarf, Gloria Steinham's right fist and a Patti McGee skateboard? Then I'd be all over them!'

Digital Content Editor Natasha Bird says: 

'I know it might sound like I'm reading too much into this, but I do wonder about the long term impact of some of the filters (that various apps have) on young women. The culture of whiter skin, flawless complexions and big puppy-dog eyes.

'On the one hand, it could be argued that it's infantilising, as well as racially a bit insulting. But on a separate note, women have so often, through history, been upheld to standards of virginal, other-worldly purity and perfection. Isn't it about time we stopped trying to make ourselves look like soft-focus woodland nymphs and celebrate being real, unique and diverse women?'

What do you think? Are social media filters dangerous or just a bit of fun? Tell us what you think on Twitter @ELLEUK

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