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Social Media vs. Reality: Are You Really “Livin’ the Life”?


Former Instagram model Essena O’Neill on Instagram (left) and just as gorgeous in “real life” (right)


Most of us have probably noticed: social media plays such a central role in our lives. Whether we go out for a simple meal with friends or a fancy wedding, most of us feel almost obligated to capture all of our social experiences so people know about all of the cool things we’re up to. Our use of social media makes us appear to lead more exciting lives than we actually do. Although I’m sure some of you have largely exhilarating lives, most of us live a pretty chill, routine existence made to look more exciting by documenting just the fun times. Looking like we’re social and cool is what social media helps us achieve, and many people go to great lengths to do so.

A prime example is now former Australian Instagram model, Essena O’Neill. Having had amassed over half a million followers, she was the girl who looked like she had it all. Essena had the seemingly perfect body, coolest looking scenic pictures, and a cute boyfriend who also had a strong online presence. What we didn’t know was that she was actually living a “miserable life.” Essena had let her image on social media define her: most of what mattered to her was how many followers and likes she could get on social media. Although we saw her gorgeous pictures, what we didn’t see was Essena spending hours on a beach waiting for the “golden hour” of lighting and making her sister take hundreds of shots of her in a swimsuit until she finally found one that made her stomach look toned enough. Her social media life was completely different from her real life.

Although some of you may now view social media as a bad thing after reading about Essena’s story, I don’t think it is at all. It’s such a convenient way to see what our old and new friends are up to, which is great considering a lot of them are probably far away at other colleges. Although social media captures some fun moments in people’s lives, it definitely does not capture all of them, and that’s what we should keep in mind. It’s okay to feel a little jealous of a friend when you see them having a blast on their Snapchat story while you’re occupied in a boring activity, but just remember that these memories are for you and you only, there is no need to constantly document them.

Hi, Collegiettes! I'm Carmen, a Communication major at University of California, Santa Barbara and one of two Campus Correspondents for UCSB. I would love to one day work in either fashion, food, tech, financial services or philanthropy. My dream is to find a job that somehow combines several of those elements. Until I get there, I'll be munching on copious amounts of Trader Joe's dried mango, jamming out to my man, Frank Sinatra, and focusing on creating intriguing content! If you like my writing, talk to me. ;) 
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