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A glass of wine here, a cocktail there – it’s not uncommon for Instagram accounts with thousands of followers to show glamorous, care-free, seemingly hedonistic lifestyles. But there can be a dark side to all those perfectly filtered pictures, and French alcohol awareness charity Addict Aide has used the platform to highlight it.

Like many young women’s social media presences, Louise Delage’s Instagram profile is filled with images of the 25-year-old looking healthy and radiant. And while it attracted 16,000 followers within weeks of being set up – a number that’s now grown to more than 90,000 – early followers were unaware that the account was actually run by Addict Aide, in an attempt to highlight the dangers of normalising excessive drinking. All images on the account showed Louise holding or drinking something alcoholic, without sparking any concerns over her drinking habits.

There's a disconnect between who we are and what we present online There's a disconnect between who we are and what we present online
louise.delage | Instagram (2016) ©

The hoax was designed to point out how easy it is to ignore the addiction of someone you're close to. "We all know a Louise Delage," says Michel Reynaud, co-founder of Addict Aide. "The Addict Aide platform offers tools to help all of those who ask themselves questions on their consumption or that of someone close to them." With social media consistently normalising hedonism, the platform of choice was a tactful move to target those most at risk on the platforms they frequent – ideal, given that over 90% of Instagram’s users are under 35.

Two-fifths of teens feel pressure to post content online that makes them look good to others, meaning social accounts are rarely a true representation of an individual's life. And while false social media accounts have become an established means to highlight and shame society’s ills – cyborg lilmiquela’s Instagram highlighted our willingness to believe what we see online – it’s promising to see the concept used as a tool to encourage positive behavioural change. With alcohol causing 50,000 premature deaths a year in France, Addict Aide has effectively used the disconnect between real and projected lives to remind people that our social accounts are merely a snapshot of what goes on behind closed doors.

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Hannah Callaghan is an account executive at Canvas8. As an Advertising Management graduate, she’s an expert in all things celebrity and pop culture.


10 Oct 16

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