Yesterday, all my media has been flooded with news of this Social Media star who just quit Instagram. Essena O'Neill just announce in social media that social media is contrived. She also officially quit social media on social media. This social media influencer rebranded or deleted Instagram account with half a million followers and her youtube channel with 200,000 subscribers.
O’Neill, who turned 19 yesterday, became a social media celebrity through posting images of her day-to-day life.
However, in a 17 minute video, which she uploaded onto her YouTube account, Essena says she was, “surrounded by wealth, fame and power,” and yet she “had never been more miserable.”
Perhaps I've been in the industry too long so I couldn't help thinking 'No sh*t it's fake' When I see pictures of couples together frolicking in the beach, I do not think #relationshipgoals. I always assume that the photo has been thru Lightroom and Photoshop. The male model might be gay and the woman might be wishing that the shoot would be over soon-she's probably nauseated with the male model's halitosis. But, good for her and the crew of the shoot- they made money.
Teenagers may not know this though. Essena is young. very young. Luckily for me I do not remember all the BS I said or I thought at her age. We were born before the internet explosion, and before social medias as we know them. We saw the rise and that helped us developing some sort of immune system against it. Her generation was born during the explosion. What they see in media probably skews what their idea is of "normal".
The something was off with this, her actions seemed so dramatic. It was too saccharine or probably had too much theatrics that I cant help but wonder if this is a ploy. First, she kept her Instagram account, she edited the captions but her followers accumulating. Second, I assumed that her knowledge of SEO. I think we can assume that EVERY media outlet will be talking about this. Third, while I love her message about being true to yourself and finding a life that is outside of social media, I don't agree with her asking for money for her rent.
I truly want to believe in her a-ha moment. And I honestly think that she had a classic burn-out. I think that it is easy as a young person to romanticize what is, ultimately, a job. "Not eating for two weeks? (Gurrrl..)" my friend commented on Facebook.She can quit her job now and become some kind of spokesperson for veganism or Icebergs, but I know somewhere down the line she is going to have a day where she doesn't "believe" in what she is doing completely - and that is okay. It's a job.
It's one of those realizations that you have as a young person in ANY field of work - that sometimes, you do have to sell a product, a service, or yourself, even when you don't want to. That's what a job is. But obviously when you don't have the maturity to approach that idea at a distance, particularly as a sixteen year old, you can become completely absorbed in it and attached to it in a really dangerous way.
There are still a lot of younger users who don't have the coping skills to fully realize all of the aspects of this and probably don't have a support system to teach them those things. No black or white on this subject. As an adult who has been using social media as a form of personal and business branding for years, I can't exactly relate to her perspective, but I am sure a lot of younger internet users who are growing up with social media might benefit from this.
Photo credit: Essena O'Neill