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Saturday, 14 November 2015


There's been so much in the news recently about 19 year-old Essena O'Neill who has raged a one-woman war against social media. Aside from being shocked, it actually made us think a lot about what social media is really about and whether this 'revolution' is a good or bad thing...

When I first read about Essena O'Neill's radical action to her Instagram account and her emotional Youtube video explaining her reasons behind leaving social I was shocked and confused. How could someone who has everything be so unhappy? She has the perfect body, she's beautiful, she has clothes that some girls could only dream of yet she was lashing out and bad mouthing social media, such as Instagram, calling it a "contrived perfection made to get attention".

I don't know if I fully agree with her public slaying of social media, I follow many Youtubers who are very honest and public about any sponsors they have, they share most of their lives with their online followers to a point where you almost feel like you know them. If these people are being honest and share almost all of their lives with us yet are happy in themselves then maybe it was the way Essena approached social media. There are so many factors that could have caused her to feel the way she is and although social media may be one of them, it's possible that other factors could have caused her constant and obsessive strive for social promotion. Either way social media gave her the confidence she has now and the following/platform that she is now using to start a revolution against social media. There are still so many questions that need to be asked yet she is not responding to any requests for interviews, maybe she feels like she's said all that needs to be said, but I don't think it's right for her to slate all platforms of social media and not accept the consequences that may come with that.

Don't get me wrong, I think she's extremely brave for speaking out about her unhappiness, but I think she should have gone about it in a better way and reached out for help rather than attack social media, for many people social media is a platform for communication, creativity and expressiveness, I just hope that Essena's actions don't effect social media for those it's providing positive aspects for.

This is something that I, as well as many other people I’m sure, have mixed feelings about.
On the one hand I completely agree with everything that Essena O’Neill has done and said. It can be argued that social media (particularly things such as Instagram) can be quite damaging to young people because they may look at ‘set up’ pictures and wonder ‘why is my life not like that?’ or ‘why don’t I look like that?’ in a similar way to how other media makes young people feel insecure. To combat these feelings of insecurity a lot of young people spend most of their time on social media which can make them alienated from real life. We seem to seek validation from social media to make us feel better – I know from personal experience that I kind of feel disappointed when my Instagram pictures don’t get many likes, to the extent that I sometimes delete them and repost at a ‘peak time’.
As well as this, Essena talks about how a lot of her pictures were actually paid advertisements from companies and this I definitely don’t agree with. As a sociology student, it seems overtly clear that capitalism is seeping in to every single thing that we do.
On the other hand, I actually do enjoy looking at and posting nice pictures on Instagram and I find that a lot of the time it actually cheers me up. I also think that it can be a positive way to network with other people and spread positive messages, such as ones of self-love.
I guess my conclusion would be that we have to somehow find a way to use social media but also keep ourselves distant from it. It must be possible to enjoy posting and looking at images without getting too involved and letting it take over our lives, because at the end of the day we have to remember that it’s not real.

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