Zilla van den Born was getting excited to start her backpacking travels through Southeast Asia. For the next month, Zilla would be traveling throughout Southeast Asia exploring the food, culture, and relaxing on the beaches. However, her parents were still pretty worried about her traveling all alone. So in order to ease their concerns, Zilla promised that she would upload photos and Skype with her family daily. Everything looked absolutely perfect from the photos that Zilla was posting. However, no one knew that she was actually hiding a dark secret this entire time.
20. Young Woman
Zilla van den Born was born and raised in Amsterdam, Netherlands. When she was only 16, she decided to get into modeling and that sparked her initial passion for photo editing and graphics. She was blown away by how much photographers and editors could edit photos to make them look different and more bold.
19. Studying Graphic Design
Zilla decided that she would go to study graphic design at the Art Academy of Utrecht in the Netherlands. After finishing school, Zilla decided to set off on another goal that she had been waiting to accomplish. She decided to plan out a month-long trip to Southeast Asia.
18. Packing Up
Zilla began to pack up for her trip and posted a photo of it onto social media. Her parents were pretty worried about her traveling all throughout Southeast Asia on her own, so she promised to keep them updated every step of the way. She gave them her trip itinerary and told them she would be uploading photos constantly. However, they had no idea that she was actually hiding a secret from them…
17. Passport Photo
As she arrived at the airport, Zilla took a photo of her passport with a ticket in her hands. She quickly uploaded this onto her social media pages and everyone was praising her for being courageous and traveling on her own. Before she got on the plane, she texted her parents to let them know she was about to head out.
After 14 hours of traveling, Zilla had finally landed safely in Thailand. She called her family through Skype to let them know that she had landed and was beginning to tell them her plans of exploring temples and trying new foods. Then she headed off to sleep and would begin her explorations the next day.
15. First Photo
One of the first photos that Zilla uploaded onto her social media accounts was of her standing in front of a Buddhist monk temple. She posted it with a caption that read: “Thailand, the Land of Smiles.” Everyone was so envious of her adventures and they couldn’t wait for her to upload more and more adventures from her travels.
One of the next photos that Zilla uploaded was of her snorkeling underwater in Phuket island. This photo in particular got her a lot of attention with everyone telling her to have a great time and watch out for any exotic and dangerous fish. As a photography lover, Zilla continued to take and upload dozens of photos of her travels.
13. Adventurous Photos
Zilla continued to keep her family and friends updated on her adventures throughout the day. As someone that loves to take photos, Zilla took some incredible shots of what she saw on her travels. Everyone really felt like they were traveling alongside Zilla on her Thailand adventures.
12. Moving Along
Once Zilla had made her way through Thailand, she quickly made her next move to Cambodia and Laos. She continued to upload photos of her adventures, such as one beautiful capture of her sitting in front of a temple with a young girl by her side. Everyone was so envious of her as her travels just looked so amazing.
11. Sharing With Everyone
Zilla continued to upload photo after photo of her travels with everyone. At the end of her 42-day trip, she crafted together a photo collage of all of the memories she shared. Soon it was time for Zilla to come back home, however, no one knew that she was about to reveal a staggering truth to them.
10. Coming Home
Finally, Zilla had packed up her bags and was heading back home to see her family and friends. Everyone was excited to hear all about her travels and to see some more photos. However, when she finally gathered with her family she dropped a truth bomb that none of them were expecting.
9. The Truth
When Zilla arrived at her parents home, she began to show them photos of her trip. However, these weren’t the photos that they were expecting to see at all. It seems that the entire time Zilla had never actually left Amsterdam. In fact, she had never even set foot on a plane or in Thailand or any of the locations that she said she was in.
8. Elaborate Hoax
It seems that the entire trip had been an elaborate hoax that Zilla had mastered. After her parents dropped her off at the train station, she quickly disguised herself and headed back to her apartment. So how did she manage to make it look like she had been traveling the whole time?! Well, she used her photo editing skills.
It seems that Zilla had decided to test out her Photoshop skills by taking photos of herself in her apartment and using props. She went to great lengths to make all of the photos look real. She even set up her apartment to look like various hotel locations in Southeast Asia.
6. Underwater Photo
Zilla then went on to explain how she managed to manipulate the photos so well. For the underwater water for example, Zilla went into her pool in Amsterdam and snapped a quick photo underwater. Then she used her photo editing software to add in the finer details such as the fish.
5. The Reason
Zilla’s friends and family were completely shocked by the revelation that she had just thrown at them. However, what they couldn’t understand is why she would go through such great lengths to pretend to be in Southeast Asia. That’s when Zilla revealed her motive.
4. Her Motive
It seems that as a graphic designer and a model, Zilla had wanted to test out how easily it is to twist the truth of a situation on social media. She wanted to conduct her very own social experiment to show just how easy it can be to tell a lie through photos. So how did her friends and family react to this?
3. Different Reactions
Zilla received a ton of different reactions. Some people understood her reasoning and were fine with her experiment while others were angry and felt offended about being lied to. However, she never intended to hurt anyone through her experiment.
2. Showing The Truth
“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media ―we create an online ideal world which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everyone knows that pictures of models are manipulated, but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives,” Zilla explained.
1. Once Is Enough
Although Zilla doesn’t regret going through the experiment, she has stated that once was enough for her. “If I had the chance to do it again, I don’t think I would,” Zilla said. Still, the young woman did make a good point. With the rise of social media usage, it can be easy to distort the truth. Zilla’s experiment helped open all of our eyes to how easily the truth can be warped.