When is it just being funny and when is it cyber bullying?

By June 26, 2018Current

TL;DR – Why you gotta be so rude?

Probably the most searched for photo on Shutterstock these days

When news first broke about a certain Instagrammer using Photoshop, I didn’t think much about it. I mean, come on, we all know that practically everybody who uses the platform edits their pictures to a certain extent. Be it to correct lighting, to remove stray hair or that weird photobomber in the corner or even to alter one’s looks to make our eyes bigger, nose sharper and skin smoother. Even if you are just slapping on a default Instagram filter (though it’s quite outdated to do so now), you are doing it so that you can have the best possible images for your Instagram feed.

So who are we to cast stones on those who edit their pictures? Photoshop or not.

“But it’s different,” my partner explained. “He took stock pictures and pictures from other photographers and passed them off as his own.”

Ok, the stock images part, I actually think it’s kinda in a grey area. He rightfully paid for the images and hence the rights to use it. I mean, you see brands using stock images all the time. Did you really think that you’re gonna meet that handsome Caucasian dentist with shining blue eyes when you walk through the dental clinic’s doors?

But passing off the images as his own and claiming that he had spent hours waiting at that spot, hmmm, then that’s definitely crossing the line. Why would he do that anyway? I mean, clearly, it’s not the brightest thing to do.

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And so, the witch hunt began. Digging out of old pictures, harassing fellow Instagrammers he has shot for, brands he has worked with – hell hath no fury like Instagram fans scorned.

I don’t understand why people have to get this angry though, and to spend so much time and effort pursuing this matter. If you are a client, then of course I understand your anger. If you are a professional photographer and feel that his actions have given the community a bad name, then okay, you can get angry too. If you are one of those whose works have been stolen by him, then please, by all means go ahead and rage all you want.

But for the rest of us, what exactly are we angry about?

We go on and on that it’s about ethics and integrity and claim such moral high ground as if we have never done anything wrong in our lives.

Obviously I know I am comparing apples and oranges when it comes to the types of mistakes we have each made, but ask yourself, are you really feeling unjust about this matter solely because of “ethics and integrity” or are we casting stones, simply because we can?

And to the brands who chose to capitalise on this topic for your promotions, would you still think that it’s funny if, for example, someone died as a result of your mockery?

I’m not defending said Instagrammer nor condoning his actions but looking at the comments and collateral surrounding this entire incident, it makes me wonder if the things we say online these days are any different from cyber bullying?

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I mean, we probably wouldn’t say such unkind stuff to a relative, a friend or stranger but just because it’s a public figure who’s made a mistake, we can now burn him or her on the stake?

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Cliche, but, this is one quote from my O level’s Literature text To Kill a Mockingbird that stuck. And as the events surrounding this incident unfolded, I sometimes find myself wondering how would I deal with this matter. And to be honest, I probably would have considered suicide if I were to wake up one morning and have my entire career – and life – suddenly come crashing down on me like that. But of course that’s me being me, all dramatic and extreme as always.

Anyway, he has apologised and deleted/ archived all his Instagram pictures and to be honest, I don’t think it’s going to be easy for him to revive his photography career after this. So  for what he’s done, he has probably already received his punishment.

Shouldn’t we then, to borrow another cliche, just live and let live?

 

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Flora Isabelle Lim

Author Flora Isabelle Lim

On a constant quest to be a really professional internet person.

More posts by Flora Isabelle Lim

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