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Daily Digest | Pretty places

Written by The Uptake Published on     2 mins read

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Social media and unrealistic expectations.

Hi. It’s Brady.

Some of you are familiar with Xiaohongshu, or Red, which is a social platform with a heavy focus on beauty and lifestyle products. People also share diet tips and their “outfit of the day” shots on there. It’s a popular place for young people, especially women, to scope out new things to spend money on.

Xiaohongshu built its reputation of hosting reliable user-generated content. But, of course, influencers with massive fan bases are paid to run posts, and plenty of brands send their products to bloggers with small followings for free so that they get cheap exposure.

There’s yet another kind of user seeking clout—those who over-edit images or present unrealistic depictions of things and places. For people who are looking for nice places to visit during holidays or vacations, this can wreck a trip.

That happened during Golden Week, a seven-day public holiday in the beginning of October. Xiaohongshu users bookmarked dreamy photos of a pink beach in Yunnan, only to arrive and find, well, a regular lake shore. People were upset, complaints caused a stir, and the platform apologized.

There are two forces at work here. Xiaohongshu’s apology doesn’t solve the problem. But also… maybe a place where beauty and lifestyle are the focus will naturally foster some unrealistic presentations and expectations? It cuts both ways: bloggers want followers, so some will create images that are sticky, and users want to see gorgeous shots, so someone will serve them up. That’s a slight over-generalization, but the feedback loop is there.

Mengyuan had the story. She spoke to a couple people who offered their insights on the matter. You can read it here.

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