After bidding farewell to her anxious family members at the International airport, Ms Zilla Van Den Born, 25, went to extraordinary lengths to trick her family and friends into believing that she was on a long and adventurous holiday in the exotic South East Asia, travelling through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos by the clever use of photoshop.
No one could tell that Ms Van Den Born, from Amsterdam, was actually safe and sound in a private apartment in Netherlands.
To execute her elaborate disappearing act, she mocked Skype calls to her parents under Christmas lights and a Thai umbrella, while also sending texts in the middle of the night to add to her credibility.
It was a well intended trick on Ms Van Den Born’s part to show how social media does not always reflect reality. In fact, this trick was part of her university graduation project.
She said: “My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality.
“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media.”
Amazingly, pictures of the Dutch student snorkelling in turquoise water with tropical fish around her were taken at a local swimming pool and then digitally altered at home.
Ms Van Den Born took to great length to photoshop herself onto tuk tuks, beautiful beaches and luxury resorts in the 42 days she spent hidden in her Amsterdam apartment with her boyfriend – the only person in the know.
The freelance graphic designer also took photos of tropical aquariums at Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo, went to a butterfly garden, bought exotic Asian souvenirs at a market and cooked up Thai meals in her own kitchen.
She even spent time in tanning booths to get a healthy holiday glow and sent postcards, which no-one noticed were stamped with Dutch postmarks.
“We create an online ideal world which reality can no longer match up to,” she added.
“Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality in our own lives as well.
“A picture is perhaps one of the most layered and contradictory objects that we can see around us.
“It represents the reality, but also falsehood. It is a fact, but also an opinion. It is technology, but also an art form.”