"Quitting" Social Media

Former model, Essena O’Neill decided to “come clean” and expose social media for what it really is. According to O’Neill, everything she advertised on social media wasn’t real. She also claimed that a male model wanted a relationship with her for the purpose of increasing their income and followers.  She proposed that many young social media stars are in relationships for mainly “business deals”.  After reaching her breaking point, the 18- year-old Australian model, snapped and announced her decision to “quit” social media.

However, she didn’t entirely quit because she created her own website, letsbegamechangers.com, to promote her voice and try to influence people to understand on what really goes on behind the camera. There’s a particular section on her site titled, “Behind the Image,” where she has multiple Instagram pictures of her with the caption changed. One of the photos is a picture of her posing on the beach, looking down at her towel. Like most of the photos, the beginning of the re-edited caption says in all caps ‘NOT REAL,’ with a brief summary of what really occurred during her shoots. In a bikini photo of her on the beach, she talks about how she took 100 pictures to get the “perfect pose” so her stomach would look nice. She also said that she hardly ate that day, and had an attitude towards her sister due to her lack of nutrition.

A recent article about O’Neill came out on Nov. 16, in People, discussing her eating conditions. In the article, she says that many times she would starve herself, and work out excessively to lose weight. The model talks about how there was a point where she believed that the only way she would love herself is if she fit society’s standards.

Despite the sympathy people have given her, there’s thousands of people attacking her because they think she is fake. A couple of O’Neil’s closest friends made a video saying that O’Neill falsely accused them of being “too obsessed with social media,”and that the pictures or videos they posted weren’t meant to get likes or followers.

Is Essena O’Neill really a fraud though? Is it possible that she is exposing some extent of the dark side of social media?  Just recently for my human behaviors class, I had to research the negative effects of social media on adolescents. I found many cases with adolescents struggling with depression, eating disorders, jealousy and competition due to their exposure. Because they are able to see practically anything, it can very easily impact their self esteem. While not everyone falls into the trap of thinking social media is reality or having social media hurt their self-esteem, there’s still the discussion whether or not social media should exist.

In many cases, it does depend on the person and how they look at things. There’s just as many people who can look at someone else’s “life” and not be bothered while there’s people who believe that everyone else is doing better or having more fun than them. Social media causes many problems, but at the same time, people still enjoy it and find it difficult to give up. At the end of the day, it’s truly up to the person themselves to believe what they want or take action on whether or not they want to keep being engaged online.