Hi loves! Today’s post is kind of text heavy, but it’s a topic that seems to be more and more relevant as social media’s impact and role in our lives increases.
Recently, Essena O’Neill has gotten a lot of attention for renouncing social media and deleting most of her posts. If you aren’t familiar, she is an 18 year old Australian that had 612k followers on Instagram, and became “instafamous” based on her pictures. She suddenly took the drastic measure of deleting most of her photos and changing the captions of the ones she left up to share what was really going on behind the photo. She explained she was doing this because her entire digital presence as “contrived perfection made to get attention” and she wanted people to know social media is not real life.
I wrote this post last year to talk to you guys a little bit about my experience with blogging/social media and how I feel when people look up to me or my life when I am only sharing a portion. I know what it’s like to read blogs and connect with a blogger through their posts. I look up to many bloggers myself. I would never want someone to feel bad because they have problems or difficult things going on in their life, and from reading my blog think I don’t. We all have problems and we all have things that aren’t ideal in our lives. Until I became a blogger myself, I didn’t have the understanding that not everything gets shared. I assumed if it was happening in a blogger’s life, I was reading it, but that’s not true. Bloggers create blogs to inspire and have an outlet for them to connect and share what they love. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, I like to focus on the positive and share the good when I sit down to write a post. I want to keep this space happy and light, and I also know that I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t take my life for granted for a second and writing about the not so great things going on just feels like putting my attention in the wrong place when there are sooooo many other wonderful things to share with you guys that will hopefully make you feel good too.
I think Essena’s message is right, that social media isn’t always real and it can be misleading. However, I don’t necessarily think social media is the whole issue here. Social media has two faces – it can be a super inspiring and positive place for people to connect and have productive conversation, but, it can also make some people feel it is taking over their lives. Essena changed a lot of her captions to explain she is actually forcing a smile, sucking her stomach in, posed hundreds of times before getting the shot she was happy with, etc. etc., and to me, it seems her issues run deeper than social media. While it can be a consuming thing in this day and age, aren’t we all conscious, living, breathing human beings with the power of choice? She actively participated in those behaviors and accepted money from brands to promote them. She created content and built her following to a very high level. She wasn’t forced to do any of this, so is it really social media’s fault this girl felt the need to “literally just do shoots every day to take pictures for Instagram”?
Social media is like anything else. When someone falls into an obsessive cycle with something, it doesn’t mean that thing is inherently bad or at fault. We’ve all been told to practice moderation with everything in life, and the same holds true for social media. I’ve experienced so much good that comes from checking my feeds and interacting with my followers. I’ve been motivated to do a workout when I was feeling lazy, cook a new meal because it looked amazing, wear pieces in my closet a different way I haven’t thought of, check out new restaurants, and I’ve made lots of amazing friends. I think in that respect, social media can be a wonderful thing. When it causes someone to feel stress, pressure, and comparison, is that social media, or something person needs to look inward and work on?
I do commend this girl for being honest about her image and how her social media presence impacted her life. It’s not easy to be open and transparent in front of so many people. I just think making social media the target of her resulting issues from using it may be a little misguided. Nobody has a gun to our heads. We can all put down our phones anytime we want if being on Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat/blogs/etc. is too consuming or making us feel bad in any way. We don’t have to have accounts on any of these, we don’t have to follow people, we don’t have to post daily…we don’t have to do anything. Social media is nothing more than an open forum platform. If we feel stressed, pressured, bad about ourselves, or less than, and seek validation from social media, that’s something inside of us and insecurities we need to be honest with ourselves about and work on, not social media.
I’ve been thinking about this lately as I read her story and just as the social media world in general blows up. We are all free and able to participate to the level that we want, that feels right for us. I have a lot of other things going on in my life aside from Instagram, blogging, etc. I might be the last person in the world not on Snapchat yet because I feel happy with the amount of social media in my life at the current moment. But when I do get on Snapchat (because I will eventually) and all of the other platforms that will inevitably pop up in the future, I will use it the same way as all of my other social media outlets – for fun. For enjoyment. For sharing. There should be no pressure involved in these platforms that are designed for us to stay connected, share pieces of our life that we want to, and be inspired.
I’d love to know what you guys think of Essena O’Neill’s renunciation of social media + how you feel about the role of social media in your own lives!
ANNNND – HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH AND THANK YOU FOR READING!!!