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Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair, 1940.

‘First Impressions’ by Melanie Mahony

WRITTEN BY: Melanie Mahony

In the age of Instagram, it’s more than likely anyone new you meet has either already seen your online persona, or will look you up afterwards. 
So, given we have this powerful tool that allows us to shape how others perceive us, do first impressions still count? We asked some friends of SIDE-NOTE for their perspective…. 
“I do think first impressions still count, or they negate the impression someone thought they had about you, which is a premature first impression! I do think now people understand social media is a curated version of yourself and same with dating apps. I think the trick is to put the worst photo of you up because you can only get better from there.” – Gracie Otto, Filmmaker @Ralf Films 
“Perception is everything. However what’s most important is how you perceive yourself, not how others perceive you. And once you align with your own perception, does the real you ring true? To be who you are and then become who you want to be.” – Pip Edwards, Co-Founder & Creative Director @P.E Nation 

Parmigianino, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1524.

“Everyone practices “personal branding”. Or at the very least curation and censor. A cohesive grid, carefully selected VSCO filter and a thoughtful caption are the modern day equivalent to a firm handshake, clear voice, and leaning in. First impressions count for something, absolutely. But the Instagram era doesn’t change that they  can last or dissolve. It’s just a new format.” – Chloe Brinklow, Editor @TOMBOY,

“Humans are innately sensitive to one another’s energies, so no matter how you may contrive your Insta account, what you give in person will always outweigh your online persona. Research suggests you are 70% more likely to be remembered if you smile during an initial encounter. I’m not convinced a filtered AF pout gets you far in the memory bank.” – Madeline McFarlane, Stylist  
“Absolutely. I think what people portray online is just one facet of their personality and often far from their reality! I think as time goes on, this has become more transparent.” – Jesse Lizotte, Photographer 

Lucian Freud - Reflection With Two Children (Self-Portrait), 1965.

“First impressions (even with the arrival of Instagram) have always existed and will continue to. The way one can be perceived in both social media and IRL may not always be the real version. It is up to individuals to decide what they want to believe about another person. I think it’s a good lesson in the age of Instagram, to remember that someone’s true worth is what exists inside their heart.” – Georgia Alice, Designer @GeorgiaAlice

“You can have a first impression- everybody is entitled to an opinion. As long as you are aware that your impression could be entirely different to how you’ve perceived them. I like to be open to the possibility of change because it is inevitable that things do.” – Sarah Ellen, Creative Director @perksofher

We’re so used to assessing and moderating our online selves- “Do I look good in this pic?”, “Should I post this image or that one?” But have you ever asked yourself,  “What would my impression be if I met me for the first time today?” 
Regardless of the answer, how people perceive us is not really shaped by Insta feeds or first impressions at all. It’s determined by your actions and who you are as a person. Or, to quote someone more eloquent than me, “First impressions matter but substance has the final word.” – Dr. Arthur Dobrin