I am usually not one to jump on the band wagon when it comes to hyped up topics, simply because I think there is a point where a topic is talked dead and over-talked. When I heard about a 19-year old girl, called Essena, deleting all of her social media and it being all over the news, it kind of hit home for me though. As a part of the industry, being a blogger & instagrammer myself, I feel very strongly about this topic and that is why I want to share my 2 cents on it with you.
Firstly, let’s establish common grounds for everyone thinking “What…Essena… who?!” – which to be quite honest, I don’t blame you for. Apparently, it is quite ground breaking news that a 19 year old decided to delete all of her social media. It should be added though, that she has/had a following of over 500.000 people on Instagram, making her a so called Instagram celebrity, earning a living of showing herself wearing bikinis and dresses, posing with her picture perfect body to promote brands. She is now determined to reveal to her thousands of fans that her “dream life” was really fake and re-edited the captions on her previous Instagram posts, kicking off her “Social Media Is Not Real Life” movement.
Essena’s words are bold and hit a nerv for a lot of people and while I applaud her courage, I also have to admit that I don’t entirely agree with everything that she is saying. Now, let me be clear: I am the last one saying social media is real life, but I think it is a very generalized, broad statement and untrue for a lot of accounts to say it is all fake & lies.
Here is how I see it: Of course Social Media is not raw, unedited real life, simply because it is SUBJECTIVE & filtered. But does that make it fake? Taking 5 pictures and choosing the best one – does it make a captured moment fake? See it as just another medium of personal perception of ongoing events in someones life, filtered by each individual what to show and what to keep private – It shows filtered events, not more and not less.
In my history classes in high school we were never just given one text on an important historic event. We were given multiple texts and in each one, someone described their reality and perception of the event. There are always two sides, two truths to something. It was meant to teach us to be critical, to not believe every word someone says, to question things.
And I think that is my main point when it comes to Social Media – there needs to be education, honesty and transparency when it comes to advertisements. And there are so many great people with fantastic honest accounts out there who are already doing just that. Promoting a dress that you love doesn’t need to be fake, if everyone is being honest about it. Sometimes you actually do capture the perfect moment and want to share that with your friends or maybe inspire others. Guess what: you can still enjoy getting compliments from others, even strangers on your selfie and it doesn’t mean that you are thirsty for validation or feel unworthy without it. There doesn’t need to be a bitter after taste and trending instagram-bashing doesn’t need to be a thing.
Social Media can be fun and inspiring, just like art. Just because someone put a lot of effort into a painting, that maybe it took them even 10 tries to get it right, doesn’t mean the end product is fake or created to deceive others. Social Media is a relatively new medium and we all need to take a step back every now and then and look at things in a critical way, realising that we are the ones responsible, not just the medium Instagram. It is just like in a relationship – there are always 2 people to an argument.
A Blogger’s thoughts on Essena O’Neill
This world is a crazy place. This world is 50 or maybe even a million shades of grey and simply not as black and white as some people like to think it is. Social Media is neither 100% real nor fake.
So, do I think it is right to go on a witch hunt for Social Media? Absolutely not. Questioning & critical thinking is key. You decide who to follow and whom you can believe. You decide to participate in an unhealthy hunt for likes & followers. And this is where more education & honesty are necessary. Envy for some other person’s life is an internal problem and not caused by someone else showing you their latest vacation pics.
Zack James found some very critical words for Essena: “Essena O’Neill is wrong; Social Media isn’t a lie. Social Media can be whatever the user desires it to be. Allowing yourself to become pressured into a false life that you’re uncomfortable with is the result of your own actions and intent. The inability to define yourself, your life, your own sense of confidence comes from a lack of trying to understand yourself.” He also made a point by stating: “Deciding to use Social Media as a tool to tell people Social Media is a lie contradicts that very same notion.”
Gabrielle Epstein, another Instagram model, with almost 900,000 followers, who regularly shares images from sandy beaches or by the side of swimming pools found some very fitting words, that I can only agree with: “Social media is whatever you make it. You have the power to choose whether it has a positive or negative impact on your life, and when you think it’s starting to become addictive, you alone have responsibility to switch off your phone and laptop and disengage from technology.
Of course Instagram isn’t real life. Everyone, myself included, chooses the highlight reel of their life to present on social media – we all know that and it is all our choice to be a part of it. However, that doesn’t mean I have ever pretended to be someone that I am not on Instagram.” … “Choosing to use social media as a platform to tell people social media is a lie is hypocritical and contradicts the very same notion. Take responsibility for yourself and your own actions – the potential to create the life you wish to live is completely in each of our hands. #chooseyourreality.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself and hope that is post provided you with some thought provoking content.
PS: German translation will follow!