My previous posts about sharing insecurities reminded me of the following. In the end of last year, Facebook and Instagram famous Essena O’Neill radically quit what she had been doing full-time for the past three years: she has been living for taking pictures in which she looked good, altering them, posting them on social media and receiving likes and followers. Now, all of a sudden, she had decided to quit social media, and for good reasons.
This time she posted a video titled ‘Why I am REALLY quitting Social Media’ in which she tells her followers how her life has been, on how she let herself define by numbers, by followers, likes and views, which became the only things that made her feel good. On how on the ages of 16 to 18 she spent her whole days proving herself online, trying to be that perfect person. On how she feels about it now, now she’s quit. She acts incredibly courageous. In the video she gets very emotional when she talks about her 12 year-old self and how it went on from there and she cries. She still posts the video online for she wants her message to be heard.
Her message: Social media is not real. You are capable of so much more than just looking good. You don’t have to go on social media to connect. You can just go outside and talk to people and connect. All we need is to feel valued and feel love for the people around us. And to be doing something that makes us feel alive. [composed out of lines in her video]
I thought she was being incredibly courageous, putting herself out there like this. But when I looked up the video again, I found a lot of negative messages about her. A main issue was about the possibly huge sum of money she has made from having asked people to support her financially so she could make a website to further spread her message – which she never did in the way she advertised it. According to some sources, she ended up donating the money to three charities selected by herself. The money thing isn’t so neat. The other stories are hard to judge and simply not worth it.
The website discussed in the video is named Let’s be Game Changers. That website now links through to her current website EssenaONeill.com, on which she simply recommends some important books, documentaries, TEDtalks and other informative things. There is also a section about veganism. The part of the content I know is actually really recommendable!
There is also a section with Essena’s story. It features old Instagram pictures of which she edited the captions to show people the truth behind them, about how they were taken, about how she really felt, about how she got paid to promote clothing, etcetera. There are also some videos with certain pictures and an audio overlay in which she talks about the picture (you can find links to those underneath her story, on the same page). I remember at least a part of this content to have been online already at the time of the video release.
It’s interesting how at first I really believed her and now these stories made me doubt her motives. She’s probably a good actress, but to fake something like this? I still think it’s real, that she had good intentions and was honest. With her video and website, Essena seemed to have similar intentions as me; to spread awareness and help people. She showed her insecurities for this purpose.
I wonder how she feels now and I hope she’s okay.
So, what do we learn from all this? On social media people can pretend to be different than they are, to be close to perfect, and this can contribute to low self-esteem and lead to addictions. We already knew this, right? I mainly thought Essena’s openness was nice! Do you have any thoughts? 🙂 Do you perhaps know more examples of people opening up like this? I would be interested in that!
Further, I hope Essena’s core messages were not completely new to you. You are not your social media profile. However, you are being judged for it! Complicated stuff.
Find all my blog posts about insecurities here!