Recently, (actually 5 minutes ago) I stumbled across an article on Facebook titled “This Instagram Star Is Calling B.S. On the Industry That Made Her Famous,” so obviously it sparked my interest.
The article lead me to a story about Essena O’Neill, a nineteen-year-old from Australia with over 500,000 followers on Instagram alone. Personally, I have never heard of her before, but after reading the article and watching the seventeen minute video that Essena posted, (it’s worth the length, I promise) I am so inspired by this young woman.
If you watch the video that is in the article I linked to, which I strongly recommend you do, then you will understand what I mean. Essena is a beautiful girl. Someone that most girls my age would envy. She has what seems like the perfect life. Keyword: seems.
In the video, she goes on to explain that although she looked happy, beautiful, and confident via social media, this was not a realistic view of her life. She was miserable and felt depressed. She judged her self-worth on the number of followers and likes that she had, and no matter how high those numbers got, they were never enough. The pictures of her laughing and smiling were completely staged, and they took dozens of shots just to get the “perfect picture.” She was paid to wear clothes and take pictures in them. She felt alone, judged, and unhappy.
This video really opened my eyes, which is what Essena intended. In today’s society, social media is of the upmost importance. We determine our own value over the number of STRANGERS that “follow” us and the number of “likes” we get on a photo, status, or tweet. How absolutely insane is that? We fashion ourselves; our thoughts, words, image, etc.; to what we think that others want us to be. Notice how I said we.
I am 10000% guilty of doing this. Not so much recently, but definitely in the past. I would tweet something just because I knew others would like it, and I would post pictures on Instagram with the thoughts: “How many likes will I get on this?”, “When is the best time to post this to get the most likes?”, and “Will other people enjoy this as much as I do?”. I’m sure that I am not the only person who has done this, and others may agree, but may not own up to it.
So I pose this simple question: Why?
Why does it matter how many likes we get on a photo? Why do we delete tweets, statuses, and pictures if they do not have a “sufficient” amount of people that like it? Why do we shape ourselves to be something that we aren’t just for the sake of other people???
This movement against social media is absolutely brilliant. Even if it doesn’t completely remove it from our society, which I do not think it will, it can change the way we use it. It can change the stigma of “perfection” that social media creates. It can change the way it is used, and it can bring it back to what it was originally intended for.
Essena is completely removing social media from her life. Now, I do not expect any of you to do this. I don’t even expect myself to do this. All I am asking from you is to take a couple days, or even just one day, off from it. Just to evaluate yourself and your thoughts. Evaluate why you tweet or post photos. Evaluate if you are doing it for yourself or for the approval of others. I know that in this generation this is asking a lot from someone, but I highly encourage it. Instead of focusing on the fake, yes, fake, reality of social media, focus on your real life.
You are so much more than a number of people that “like” what you post. Realize that.