Wagatha Christie, social media and the intricacies of defamation | life and style

Mhis jaw hurts a bit from clenching through the bits of the Wagatha Christie trial that involved educating the judge on Instagram. Whole days in an oak-panelled room revolved on a shade once reserved for teenagers at bus stops. What does it mean when someone unfollows you, for your ego, for your social status, for who you are as a human. Who’s tracking who and why, the shadow when someone messages you and you know they’re just pretending to be a mate and so on, millions of pounds turning to dust as the internet is explained piece by piece, like grandchildren teaching a lesson in how to use the new TV remote control at Christmas.

It’s funny, but it’s also shocking, the fact that the next generation lives in a new and different world, with its own language, laws and rules of beauty. And that, for all the mapping of said world, for all the lessons of Duolingo in its grammar, dialect, and phrasing, those who didn’t grow up there are destined to remain tourists forever, squinting at the sight.

In another oak-panelled room on Westminster Road, in an inquiry into body image, the Health and Social Care Select Committee was jaw-dropping at the power of social media. 80% of their survey of social media users told them that their appearance harmed their mental health, and 71% said their body image caused them to enjoy life less. Giving evidence to the committee, their ‘lived experience witness’ Kim Booker, a woman who lives with body dysmorphic disorder, said she used to bring magazines to hairdressers, showing them the style that she wanted. “Now you go through Instagram and you take this picture to [aestheticians] and say, “I want my face to look like this.” “She had become so familiar with her Instagram face, “When the video flipped on my natural face, I was in for a bit of a shock. I hated what I saw, because you get used to the filtered version of yourself.

In response, MP Dr Luke Evans discussed his Body Image Bill, introduced in parliament in January, which would require advertisers and influencers to put a logo on digitally altered images. “Would that have stopped you from getting where you are?” he asked Booker. “It’s tricky,” she replied. “Although my logical mind can see that the image is changed, subconsciously my brain sees an image and tries to reproduce it.” She was talking about the two worlds, yesterday and today, and the complexity and treachery of the journey from one to the other.

This dissonance struck me again when I read Victoria Beckham’s recent assertion: “It’s an old-fashioned attitude, wanting to be really thin. She was talking about her new line of bodycon dresses up to size 18. “I think women today want to look healthy and curvy. They want to have breasts and buttocks. I have plenty of time for Beckham, a camp celeb, smart and cheerful, but nonetheless talking about a place of extreme thinness, who ate (according to her husband) nothing but steamed vegetables and grilled fish every day for 25 years. And that “healthy” look she promotes is just as hard to achieve as that old-fashioned slimming thing – the Brazilian butt lift, which involves transferring fat from the thighs or belly to the buttocks, is the cosmetic surgery procedure. which is experiencing the fastest growth in the world. The pursuit of thinness, while chaotic, destabilizing and sometimes fatal, was never the issue. The problem was the idea that an ideal body should be pursued at all.

We’ve spent a lot of time indoors over the past two years, a lot of time alone – a lot of time alone, inside our bodies. It’s only recently that we’ve returned to a world where we’re no longer disembodied faces on a screen, and maybe that’s because of that shocking jump into the pool, where we feel scrutinized again, unfiltered and raw, this negative body image is so high. But, even if they recognize the implications of an Instagram filter, isn’t it vaguely convoluted how long it takes officials to learn what it actually does? That they can truly understand a person’s “lived experience” online seems unlikely.

As adults try – and God bless them for it, their fat fingers stabbing at an unsheathed screen – it seems clear to me that more emphasis should be placed on teaching children how to navigate the two worlds they are in born, rather than how adults might monitor it. This means consuming media critically and encouraging conversation about unrealistic ideas of beauty in order to reduce internalization of them, and learning to read an image, and avoiding forensic analysis and judgment of the bodies that enter. and go out of fashion before the end of a season. Then maybe we can save ourselves the agony of another weary politician who has to learn about the ethics of Facetune or the length of Instagram Stories. Life is short and the two worlds melt – let these old ladies live.

Email Eva at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @EvaWiseman

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