See it doesn't look pretty does it?": Young adults' airbrushed drinking practices on Facebook.

Psychology & health

PubMedID: 24527709

Niland P, Lyons AC, Goodwin I, Hutton F. See it doesn't look pretty does it?": Young adults' airbrushed drinking practices on Facebook. Psychol Health. 2014;.
Abstract A range of negative health outcomes are associated with young adults' drinking practices. One key arena where images of, and interaction about, drinking practices occurs is social networking sites, particularly Facebook. This study investigated the ways in which young adults' talked about and understood their uses of Facebook within their drinking practices. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven New Zealand young adults as they displayed, navigated and talked about their Facebook pages and drinking behaviours. Our social constructionist thematic analysis identified three major themes, namely 'friendship group belonging', 'balanced self-display' and 'absences in positive photos'. Drinking photos reinforced friendship group relationships but time and effort was required to limit drunken photo displays to maintain an overall attractive online identity. Positive photos prompted discussion of negative drinking events which were not explicitly represented. Together these understandings of drinking photos function to delimit socially appropriate online drinking displays, effectively 'airbrushing' these visual depictions of young adults' drinking as always pleasurable and without negative consequences. We consider the implications of these findings for ways alcohol health initiatives may intervene to reframe 'airbrushed' drinking representations on Facebook and provoke a deeper awareness among young people of drinking practices and their online displays.