Strathclyde Telegraph

Social media: a fake life?

By Suvi Loponen

 

I’m sure many of you will have read, and maybe even seen the video where the Australian beauty sensation and model Essena O’Neill informed her followers that she will be retreating from social media from now on. That’s ‘retreat’ as in over to her newly launched new web site, that is.

Her absence was destined to cause a lot of turmoil, though, perhaps the worst factor was when O’Neill started to re-captioning her pictures, revealing the gruesome truths behind some of her most famous photos – which she was previously paid to do by sponsors.

Whether she did it to just boost her new website, or because of genuine reasons related to not liking the way social media presents people, she has inspired other people to quit being fake. I personally think O’Neill quit for honest reasons. I believe she had grown out of the person she presented on social media and it was time to take a dive into something new.

For O’Neill, social media was her career. And for most, a career is something that you expect to get paid well for. In O’Neill’s case the money she made came from the brands that she promoted in her pictures whilst creating a brand for herself.

After deleting hundreds of her Instagram pictures, O’Neill re-captioned the ones she wanted to use: she told of how she was paid $500 to stage a photograph of her wearing a specific dress. Under many of the pictures she wrote about how, given the choice, she would choose never wear these outfits in public. Why would you promote something that you would not wear in public? Maybe because it was given to you for free.

I remember one year instead of a new phone, I got a pack of wool and a book called ‘Knitting 101’ – and despite it not being what I, a typical young lady hoped for as a gift, the situation didn’t make me to go to my mum and state the injustice. Instead, I spent hours trying to learn knitting, even telling my friends it was something that I wanted to learn. In the end, I believed that I could enjoy and become good at it – without even getting paid. Later I did give up, and like O’Neill, you eventually hit the ceiling and start questioning whether your actions are right for yourself. I didn’t want to hurt my mum’s feelings; O’Neill didn’t want the cash flow to be cut, lose her fame and the followers to disappear – up until now.

In her ‘final’ YouTube video, O’Neill was quick to say how unhappy she had been feeling behind the fake mask of perfect life, describing how she made her little sister to take 50 pictures of herself at the beach for one post because in only one of them her tummy looked good enough for Instagram. And think about it: how often do you see sad pictures on Instagram? You can never know the truth behind a happy face or beautiful picture.

Being honest is sometimes hard in everyday life when by telling little lies you might get just a bit further in what you want to achieve. Social media goals are usually centered around popularity and ‘getting likes’.

On social media you have to be somehow unique, yet get the balance between ‘being different’ and not OTT. If I have a hard think about which is more attractive to brands – constantly posting photos of yourself cuddled in bed with Netflix and a tub of ice cream, or you on a beach wearing a nice bikini and showing off your perfect six pack – it is not a hard choice. My everyday life might resemble the former more closely but it is the latter that fascinates me. It sells and it gets my ‘like.’

So maybe Essena O’Neill really did just get tired of this fake lifestyle like she stated on Instagram. It happens to the best of us: jobs, routines, social media, being connected all the time, the drive to be perfect. It can be overwhelming and make me want to quit everything in a split-second, move to Bali and do yoga on a beach every day. But we must achieve a balance in life.

To end, I’d like to attach a disclaimer: this text was not sponsored. All opinions were honest and my own.

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