An Instagram star shared a photo of a trip to Disneyland. But it was an elaborate lie.

“I hacked my own Instagram account.”

With those six words, travel blogger and photographer Carolyn Stritch revealed she had successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of her 191,000 followers.

Just days before, Carolyn had shared an image of herself in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland in California, a trip she had taken alone to “treat herself” for her 22nd birthday.

“I’ve taken myself off to California. There I am in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – my crazy, self-indulgent 22nd birthday present to myself,” she wrote.

“Tomorrow I’ll be back home and it’ll be like it never even happened! I keep saying to myself: it’s kind of fun to do the impossible. Life is what you make it!”

“Like it never happened” is exactly right. Because it never did. Carolyn had never gone to Disneyland or posed in front of the castle.

It was all part of an ‘experiment’ Carolyn – who is actually 32 – had undertaken to prove to her followers they couldn’t always believe what they saw on social media.

On a post shared to her blog, The Slow Traveler, Carolyn said she was inspired to try the experiment after reading a book by Will Storr called Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing To Us.


So, she downloaded a face-altering app and started seeing how far she could stretch the truth.

“I came up with a story: my FaceApped perfect self, who’s ten years younger than I am, flies off to Disneyland for the day, and somehow manages to photograph herself all alone in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle,” she wrote.

“I manipulated images, captioned them with a fictional narrative, and presented them as real-life.

“I hacked my own Instagram account.”

LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud team confess the embarrassing things we do on Instagram to impress our following. Post continues after audio.

She acknowledged that part of being an ‘influencer’ on Instagram was to post pictures that portray the “best bits” of her life.

“Instagram is really good at escapism, the aspirational, the inspirational. So I try to get those things into pictures I post,” she wrote.

“Nobody wants to see me in my pyjamas, with my explosive morning hair, hunched over my laptop on the sofa. That’s how I spend most of my days. You want to see my books, my windows, my travel photography, same as I want to see the best bits of your daily lives.


“But there’s a line. In this project, I crossed that line, went way, way over it so I could work backwards and figure out how far I can reasonably go and still make work that’s both responsible and good.”

Carolyn stressed, of course, that any and all of her previous posts featured her, for real, in real places and that this ‘experiment’ was the first time she had ever truly ‘tricked’ her followers.

Her fans were quick to applaud the blogger for her project, calling the idea “very clever”.

“I thought that something wasn’t adding up, and I love the way you’ve pulled this whole stunt off,” one wrote.

“Thank you for pointing out what many forget: that what we see is very likely make believe,” another shared.

Others called it the “realest” post they’d ever seen on the social media platform.

Carolyn isn’t the first blogger to expose the unreality of Instagram – Australian bikini blogger Karina Irby is also making waves by sharing before-and-after retouching images of her body.