You’ve probably heard about this by now, it’s not exactly breaking news. But I have some important things to say about it.
First of all-here’s the scoop. There’s a 19-year-old Australian girl named Essena O’Neill. She became “insta-famous” when she was 16, posting highly edited and strategically posed photos on her account for money. She was hired by a top modeling agency, IMG, made thousands of dollars and racked up over a half of a million followers on various social media sites.
From the outside, her life seemed perfect. Clearly, there was something wrong. O’Neill recently started the “war on social media,” deleting many of her accounts and posting a very serious Youtube video explaining her take on the situation (see below for link to video). She coins the phrase, “social media is not real life.” She went back to her Instagram and edited the captions of the photos to show how inauthentic the material was. See examples below:
The caption reads: “Edit: Please like this photo. I put on makeup and curled my hair, tight dress, big uncomfortable jewelry…Took over 50 shots until I got one I thought you might like, then I edited this one selfie for ages on several apps-just so I could feel some social approval from you. THERE IS NOTHING REAL ABOUT THIS #celebrityconstruct”
Caption reads: “NOT REAL LIFE- took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good. Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my little sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this. Yep so totally #goals “
So what do you think? Is she right, does social media turn us into these self-obsessed, media crazed and attention thirsty people? Is it ruining our interactions with people and polluting our authenticity as humans? This is what I think.
She’s nuts. While I do agree, the digital age has completely changed our personal relationships and allowed us to hide behind a laptop or iPhone screen, editing our photos just as much as we can “filter” our feelings-it’s not social media’s fault! It is our own fault. O’Neill was sucked into the limelight, she lost her frickin mind in the process of trying to please people. This is not a problem with Instagram or Youtube or Tumblr, this is a problem with society.
In fact, these social media sites are great tools for digital communication. Businesses and universities are incorporating social media into their day-to-day work because it’s truly the direction the world is moving in. How you choose to use these apps is up to you. Yes, I scroll through my entire Instragram feed the minute I wake up in the morning, but I’m not spending all my time in the day critiquing my photos to get likes. I love Instagram-it gives us a way to share moments with our friends, family, and it’s a place for us to look back on our own memories and reminisce.
O’Neill’s statements make it seem as though anyone using these apps is prone to be brainwashed and mentally screwed up, just like she is. Well I think that’s bullshit. And listen, my word is not the final word. This is an ongoing discussion in which everyone seems to have a different opinion. Of course, there are going to be people who completely agree with O’Neill, although she has gotten a lot of backlash for this (people think it’s a publicity stunt). You may not agree with this, but it’s worth being said. Social media can be a depiction of real life, so long as you let it.
To view the original Youtube video that sparked this controversy, click here.