Style and travel blogger Scarlett London recently uploaded a photo to her Instagram profile which depicted a perfect morning: cute hair, beautiful pajamas, tons of balloons, strawberries, and, of course, some tea with pancakes.
But things quickly went very wrong when London's followers noticed her tea cup didn't have any tea in it. Even worse, her pancakes were actually...are those tortilla shells? Could this picture actually be...fake?!
The comment section quickly became a hive of outrage, with some people even telling London she deserved death for setting unreal standards for young women worldwide.
London, who has around 46k Instagram followers, told The Daily Mail she received thousands of comments, many of them overtly threatening:
Many to the effect of that I'm a danger to young women and should suffer, I should be stopped, I should suffocate on the balloons, I should kill myself because of how pathetic I am. But if I'm totally honest, those were the more tame of the bunch.
The photo was shared on Twitter, where even more users took a swipe at the "reality" London was presenting, leaving comments like:
Instagram is a ridiculous lie factory made to make us all feel inadequate.
Everything in this picture is ridiculous and hella FAKE.
@hintofsarcasm @gillesoffthenet Either that’s a plate of tortilla wraps or some dry as pancakes. Least that’ll rui… https://t.co/lvjZu6tUzF— See Dubya (@See Dubya)1535722804.0
@hintofsarcasm That mug is empty and those pancakes look more like tortilla wraps to me, I hope she steps on a Lego… https://t.co/sKm5zsbQfQ— Ryan Austin (@Ryan Austin)1535832899.0
@hintofsarcasm @Arash_Mohebbi Every time I look at this it's more ridiculous. Who has Listerine by the bed?— @soniaahhh/mastodon.social 🌈 (@@soniaahhh/mastodon.social 🌈)1535850371.0
Others, however, came to London's defense.
@hintofsarcasm If you feel inadequate because of an Instagram post made to sell mouth wash. Then maybe it’s time to… https://t.co/AC9hAIzkVT— ChurchTank (@ChurchTank)1535832552.0
@AlexCozens11 @hintofsarcasm @JoelHeyman Yeah! I feel bad for her that so many people are being so unnecessarily ha… https://t.co/IA3OV7b1Fn— Gemma Cozens (@Gemma Cozens)1535839796.0
@hintofsarcasm I’m so sorry there’s so much hatred in your life, that you’d start a witch hunt for a young girl ove… https://t.co/shmys8gijD— Lauren Dudley📸 (@Lauren Dudley📸)1535876961.0
A recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health found that Instagram was the worst social media platform for users public health, most likely because of its focus on creating and consuming idealized versions of people's lives, making real life seem like a disappointment by comparison.
London released a statement asking people to consider that she is a real person with real feelings and problems before posting hateful comments on her pictures:
I implore those mindlessly sharing this content to research who I am as a person, before they further drag my name and image through the mud. Yes, I do adverts on here, but only with brands I genuinely use and would spend money on myself. My feed isn't a place of reality.
The blogger suffers from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and says she just wants to use her Instagram feed to show that people with the affliction can still live a happy, fun life:
I am a strong 24-year-old woman who has experienced bullying in the past. I am and will be okay after this hideous experience. But another young girl or guy as the subject of a targeted hate campaign might not be okay. Please remember at the centre of of every viral storm is a human being.
It's worth noting where this debate broke out: on London's photo which didn't manage to keep up the illusion of a perfect life. London has shared nearly 1,500 photos on Instagram, but outrage surrounding her pictures' authenticity has appeared only on the one which is noticeably and provably fake. Are the commenters angry that London is setting unachievable standards, or are they furious that the veil slipped on her watch, allowing them to see for a terrifying instant that the social media stars and online role models they've devoted so much of their time to might be just as fallible and disappointingly normal as they are?
The online debate surrounding social media and its influence on our psychology will continue, just as surely as travel bloggers like London continue to post pretty pictures while paying little heed to those issues. Regardless, no one deserves death threats or hate-fueled comments for posting an innocuous and delightful photograph. Let's get with it, people!