Celebrity blogger Essena O’Neill has sparked debate this week on the arguably “self-absorbed” ‘dark side’ of social media after re-editing Instagram captions revealing how much she was paid to promote products on her account.
O’Neill has now deleted all her superficially perfect social media accounts and has created her own website ‘letsbegamechangers.com‘ where she’ll be vlogging about social media, veganism concepts and interviewing change makers.
Essena is arguing that we have become part of a society dominated by social media which turns online popularity into “validation from numbers,” “I want people to think about things… It’s freeing when you don’t let social approval define you”.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we are always aiming to improve on and shape how others see us. Whether that be in an interview, on a date or on social media we cannot ignore the fact that it exists, and social media is the most efficient tool for this. It’s super easy to add a filter to your picture on Instagram in order to reduce the appearance of a blemish or add 2 or 202 connections on LinkedIn to give the impression that you’re well connected. If those connections or filters allow you to feel empowered then why not use them?
I don’t agree with this ideology that ALL social media is fake as it allows us to explore ideas and conclusions that we perhaps would never have come to on our own accord. If it wasn’t for these different platforms and communities of communications I fear many of us would be a lot less open-minded to alternative opinions.
I do think that there’s an issue particularly with the younger epidemic of serial social media users with editing their lives down to this crisp void of perfection and filtering out the ‘ugly’ aspects of reality that everyone has to go through whether you have 10 followers or 10 million. However I think that the people using social media to show their lives as an edited slice is in the minority. I’d like to think that the majority of us have found a healthy balance between using various platforms to our advantage when it comes to filtering a few selfies and understand that the amount of ‘likes’ that somebody else has doesn’t decrease or increase our own self worth.
Nobody has a perfect life, but there’s certainly no harm in sharing good (or not-so-good) moments of our lives with people who we’re connected to online. In a world where we are more connected by our attachment to technology than our attachments to one another, social media is used as a window which is often misinterpreted as a mirror. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to the rose-tinted glass windows of others, nor should we assume that the glass is rose-tinted. Haha.