19 year old Instagram star Essena O’Neill decided to cut social media completely out of her life. Why? She woke up and realized how fake it all was. The actualization came to her when she realized that for 7 years her main goal was to get likes and followers and if she didn’t, then she wouldn’t feel good about herself. Her posts were “fake” and didn’t depict what was actually going on in that moment and she would post pictures solely to advertise for clothing in exchange for money. She wasn’t actually living life.
After coming to this realization she didn’t just delete all of her accounts and throw her past away, she did something that would actually IMPACT and CHANGE the world. Essena deleted photos on her Instagram that she thought weren’t relevant and changed the captions on the pictures she kept to what was actually happening in the photo. A lot of what she said was inspiring to me. With almost every revised caption, she kept stating how social media is an illusion.
Essena did decide to delete all of her accounts (which I am disappointed about because her new captions were inspirational and were a great example of what social media obsession can do to you). But she now has her own website called, “Lets Be Game Changers”. On the site there is a video of Essena without makeup on explaining why she quit social media and how it negatively impacted her life, with a written explanation as to why.
Here is a paragraph from her website: “I spent my whole childhood searching for social approval, wishing I could be of value to others. Desperately hoping one day I would be widely loved, admired or just appreciated. I felt ugly, out of place, nerdy and a ‘nobody’ growing up. I felt lost and unloved… I found so much instant gratification in social media. It was the first time people told me how great I was, excessively, continually… ‘You’re so perfect’ ‘You’re so pretty’ ‘You’re my inspiration’. But for what? I edited and perfected a celebrity construct of myself. I was born into the flesh I have and society said ‘you fit our nearly impossible standards for women’. Social media became my whole life and a profiting career. It was an addiction for me. I made content to get approval, not to authentically express myself. I glorified artificial beauty. I endorsed products that arguably deceive youth into thinking they’re not enough.”
Throughout high school I noticed that people were always trying to get the approval of others and it seemed as though their only goal was to be liked and admired. Unfortunately I still witness this whenever I am scrolling through my feed, whether it be Facebook or Instagram. I also see posts and pictures of girls specifically who “seem” happy and “seem” like they love themselves but in real life they’re miserable and self-conscious.
So why do people obsess over what people think of them in the cyber world and aren’t focussing on their health, living life and living in the moment? We only have ONE life and we shouldn’t be wasting our time in front of screens or desperately trying to get the approval of others.
I’ll leave you with this: Although I do have social media accounts I use them to keep in touch with family and friends, network, inspire, create and update the world on my many adventures. After reading and listening to Essena’s story, she impacted my views on social media and I have decided to limit my use of it. I will continue to share her story because I think self- love and self-acceptance are two of the most important things to accomplish in this life. You cannot accomplish that through posting or gaining followers.
Essena’s website: www.letsbegamechangers.com