How often do you refresh your Twitter feed? Check up on those Instagram posts? Is it time we took our eyes off of our screens to look at the world around us? Following Australian blogger Essena O’Neill’s recent decision to quit social media, Nicole Johnson questions the reality of it all.
Social Media is not real life, says Essena O’Neill.
A young Australian vlogger and Instagram contributor, with over 500 thousand followers, Essena O’Neill, recently did something drastic; she spoke up, allowing herself to explain what was wrong with her life and how she felt pressured to get the right photo so that she could get the most likes. She did it to show the truth of what people thought was real, which was not only brave of her, but it started to get people talking about the negative sides to social media platforms.
She wanted to explain how we focus so much attention on being in the media that we display our lives on social media; we have become addicted to trying to become famous. We have begun to think that having all the likes is what defines our life, our friends, or our value to the world, but it doesn’t.
If we hear what she is saying, how we need to stop trying to get the most likes, we can just be ourselves. Social media is causing teenagers and even 20 something year old college students to get wrapped up in having to post that photo, and having to get more likes. It makes me anxious thinking about it. And Essena points out how sick and wrong that is because social media is not real life.
It is important to recognize that a lot of “popular” Instagramers aren’t real. Social media is good in many ways, it makes sharing photos and connecting with others easier, and those are all good things. But again, it is not real life.
Having Essena bringing up this issue was important to read and hear because not only was it shocking, it caused me to question my use of social media. Have I thought social media was real life or was I just photo happy? Essena is different from me because she was posting for companies, products, and advertisers, but she also was having people think this was her life. In one of her post alterations after announcing her reasons for giving up social media, she said how did not go to the beach for any of the reasons you or I would. Instead, she went to the beach purely as an aesthetic backdrop. She went to get that photograph, get the best one and post it not for herself, but for the likes. Have we become a culture that lives life to get that one thing for the most likes? The question scares me.
Social media can be an addiction, it can consume us on many different levels for Essena it can become a lifestyle, for others it could be popularity rank, or showing the unreality to what is happening. We got to stop rating ourselves and start beginning ourselves. Don’t worry about the likes or followers, just worry about your actual life that is enough worry. And when posting something to social media always be yourself.
That is what will make social media real.