Former Instagram model Essena O’Neill recently posted a video about why she was quitting social media that caused quite a stir in the online community. Even though the original video is now off YouTube, there are plenty of others who continue to spread her message. You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1Qyks8QEM
Even though the video isn’t fun to watch, it raises some important topics. In the video, an emotional O’Neill lets the public know that her social media fame led to nothing but insecurities and self-judgement. Prior to the viral video, I had never heard of Essena O’Neill but I’m glad that I did.
I’m sure that most of us are aware that social media is pretty fake. It’s a fabricated highlight reel of a person’s ‘best’. While this can happen with the average person (after all, most people don’t post pictures of their worst times – and editing is more common than ever), the impact is slightly more significant with those who have a following.
Another refreshing step that O’Neill took was to re-caption all of her Instagram pictures (which have now also been removed as well, though they can be found in online articles, such as this: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/nov/03/instagram-star-essena-oneill-quits-2d-life-to-reveal-true-story-behind-images )
She talks about how the pictures are not spur of the moment, and were heavily planned, prepped and sponsored. While I am aware that this happens with a lot of social media influencers, it was refreshing to hear it from someone such as O’Neill. It made me wonder how many pictures I look at, subconsciously want to emulate and how fake it can all ready be.
As I was watching the video, without even giving it much thought, I opened my Instagram and unfollowed over 200 accounts. Originally, I had viewed these accounts as fitness and beauty motivation. But as O’Neill spoke, I realised that it’s highly likely that all these ‘perfect’ pictures of ‘perfect’ people are false. If anything, many add to the insecurities of the world, whether it’s to promote a product, brand, etc.
I continue to follow people that inspire me, but in a way where I look at them and want to perform better or learn new work out/style tips, as opposed to ogling them and thinking ‘that’s how people should look/be.’ After all, it doesn’t matter what anyone else looks like, what they’re doing, etc. You are you and that is the most beautiful thing you could be.
So thank you Essena, for your refreshing eye-opener. Here’s to all the internal likes I hope you find, as opposed to ones given. Let’s be game changers!
Lots of love xx
P.S This isn’t to slander social media as a communication platform. I think social media can be a wonderful tool. But I do believe that it’s happened so quickly (especially for the younger generation) that we are still learning how it impacts us, and anything we can do to stay observant and aware of our influences should be discussed.