The recent video of widely celebrated Instagram star Essena O’Neill has ironically gone viral across social media websites as she emotionally explains why we need to be “game changers” and boycott social media. Her belief, having previously made money from well choreographed photos, is that social media is wrong and portrays false representations of people’s lives. Whilst her message is a valuable realisation for individuals who feel their lives pale in comparison with others, many feel that Essena has been unfair on social media.
“Social media” encompasses any application or website that enables users to create and share content and network with others, and for many it is considered one of the most valuable tools of the modern age. It provides space for people to develop their businesses, a platform for artists to represent themselves and a convenient and free way to stay in contact with friends and family across the globe. When used appropriately it is undeniably a fantastic medium of communication and perhaps the issue here is not with the individuals taking the photos but the attitudes of those viewing them.
Does anyone believe this photo isn’t staged? No- the reality behind this photo would be that the beautiful couple would turn over to find a greasy man wheezing down his SLR as he photographes them. Do people care that it’s staged? No. Should people feel bad because the average snapshot of their relationship would look more like two unemployed people lying in bed with the residual crumbs from chip and dip? Absolutely not. Just because artistic photography exists doesn’t mean individuals have to strive to replicate it.
In response to Essena’s “revolution” one twitter user tweeted: “I’m giving up social media for a whole week next Monday. #EssenaO’Neill #SocialSlave We are a self absorbed generation.” It could be argued that tweeting on a social media site about this topic is missing the point slightly, but more importantly this comment seems far more directly offensive than any dressed up Instagraming. Social media existing doesn’t render people self absorbed, people’s obsessional behaviour and misuse does. Social media isn’t evil, the people behind the evil acts are. You don’t put a gun on trial for shooting someone, it has no consciousness, neither does the internet (unless we’ve reached the age of iRobot in which case OMG Vicky is so cray).
Anyway if you’d like to read more about how she’s given up on social media and stopped seeing herself as a number, then you can visit her website where she talks about how many hits her videos are getting- http://www.letsbegamechangers.com