If you don’t take a selfie at the gym and share it on Instagram, did you even really work out? For YouTuber WillNE, the answer is no. He went to the gym, and he shared his gains on social media, but there was no training involved — just a lot of Photoshop trickery for a video where he pretended to be swole on his socials for a week.
The purpose of the experiment was twofold: he wanted to test how easy it is to fake things on social media, and find out whether getting “ripped” would result in a slew of likes.
Rather than just Photoshopping his face onto somebody else’s ripped torso, Will aimed for an impressive level of verisimilitude. He actually went to the gym and took photographs of himself lifting weights, then turned up the definition on what his own slight muscles. He recruited his gym-going friend to demonstrate how to take the ideal workout pic (lighting is important!) and then proceeded to take “the most cursed folder of images my Instagram would ever see.”
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After a disastrous attempt at DIY photo editing, Will sent the images off to be touched up by editors on Fiverr. The resulting photos included changes that range from are subtle, such as visibly changing the numbers on the weights to make them look heavier, to extreme, like one vascular deadlift shot with veins super-imposed over his own arm.
“Your arm looks like a fucking sausage,” remarks his accomplice. “You look like the fucking elephant man.”
Prior to his fake swoledom, Will had an average of 135,000 likes on his Instagram posts. To begin with, his new-look Insta grid sees an uptake in activity (not to mention a questionable offer to became the face of a new athleisure brand).
The first gym shot gets over 139,000 likes, and a ton of supportive comments. “Oh my god, people actually believe I’m hench,” Will says. “This isn’t funny any more, I just feel like a dick.” The next shot gets just over 100,000 likes, and the comments are a lot more skeptical about just how real his gains are: “The majority at this point have clocked on.” The likes on his third post plummet to 83,000, and people are well and truly over the bit.
“We proved it; summer bodies are overrated,” he concludes. “You know what, I think that’s success.”
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