Dutch woman’s photo hoax proves that ‘fake-cays’ are the new ‘stay-cays’

It seems like everyone on Facebook is going on vacation to some exotic locale you could never afford. But how much of that is real? If we are honest with ourselves, then we all can admit that Facebook is an optical illusion. One Dutch student conducted an elaborate social experiment with the help of Photoshop to prove just that.

Zilla van den Born, 25, spent five weeks traveling around South East Asia — or at least that was what she wanted her family and friends to think. She actually never left Amsterdam. The only person in on her dirty little secret was her boyfriend, her accomplice in the intricate hoax.

Zilla is not a narcissistic liar. She is a Dutch student who went on a “fake-cay” to show how easy it is to manipulate your social circle on social media. Zilla was detailed in her deception: She had her family drop her off at the airport before taking a train back to Amsterdam to spend the next 42 days Photoshopping in her apartment.

Sjezus zeg, Zilla – Tempel from Zilla van den Born on Vimeo.

But she was faking it all along. Her “fake-cay” makes the “stay-cay” look like child’s play. Zilla was seen snorkeling — in her own swimming pool at home. She posted pictures of herself eating authentic Asian cuisine — that she cooked. She uploaded a shot of herself sitting in a temple with a Buddhist monk — both located in Amsterdam. She even used an umbrella and old Christmas decorations to re-create a Thai hotel room in her bedroom so her parents wouldn’t suspect anything in their regular Skype chats.

She says, “My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”

This woman went so far as to send her family text messages in the middle of the night and mail them Asian souvenirs that she purchased in Amsterdam. Zilla left no stone unturned in her social experiment as part of a university project to illustrate that Facebook does not equal real life.

I agree with what Zilla was demonstrating. I myself am guilty of feeling jealous of beautiful, exotic sunsets on my Facebook feed. But maybe she was on to something. Now that we have Photoshop and social media at our fingertips, who even needs vacation anymore? A staycation has been all the rage for vacationers on a budget. A “fake-cay” is even better if you want to wow your friends without leaving the house.

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