The Problem with Social Media

Recently, Australian social media icon Essena O’Neill “quit” social media.

She deleted her Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. She did this because she felt trapped and alone; that all her life leading up to now, she was unhappy and always seeking the acceptance of others.

She feels social media has created a “brainwashed generation,” a fake life.

Prior to deleting her Instagram, she edited her past captions stating the reality of what went into each picture.

Some were hours of waiting for the perfect lighting; taking a picture in an uncomfortable pose for the most beautiful outcome; yelling at her sister or mother to take an image from a more flattering angle; or sponsoring a company she didn’t even like or support.

Then, she released her website: http://www.letsbegamechangers.com/, where she talks about issues that really matter to her.

Now, I’m very happy she has come to the realization that her career in social media was bad for her and changed that, but she is trying to start a movement against the “fake” social media image. She thinks that everyone who posts “beautiful” pictures on Instagram are never enjoying the moment, and their happiness is based on their likes.

However, she is neglecting the fact that social media can be good and not everyone is obsessing over likes.

On Facebook, you can invite your friends to an event. Whether it be a birthday party or a meeting for a new club, it is bringing people together. It is allowing people who normally wouldn’t hang out to build up connections and band together.

Social media doesn’t only bring people together in person, but through the Internet. You can talk to a family member on vacation in another country, or a friend who you want to catch up with. You can also connect with people based on common interests. There are websites and blogs for anything you are interested in, such as book clubs and feminist forums.

O’Neill’s website is an example of this. She talks about issues that matter to her and lets others join in as well. Now this is such a cool website, but it’s SOCIAL MEDIA. She is using a website to display her ideas. She is connecting with others via the Internet. She is doing what makes her happy.

So many other social media stars are happy. She thinks that when one becomes successful on Instagram or Facebook, then all they think about is success. All their happiness is derived from that success.

However, these people aren’t just their pictures. They have vibrant lives that extend from their phone, no matter how much they display on social media. They experience happiness and sadness from places beside their feed. Just because her social media experience was bad, doesn’t mean social media itself is bad.

She is also bashing on the women and men producing these “unreal” lives. She is saying that all they’re the creators of this unattainable image, the exact images that lead her and other young girls to lust for the life shown on their screens.

In a sense this is true, but she’s neglecting to include sources for this feeling other than social media. She doesn’t talk about how burger commercials, more often than not, use skinny bikini-clad women to promote a slab of meat in between two buns or how there are huge billboards of women standing confidently in their underwear.

She refused to acknowledge that social media platforms are borrowing from other aspects of life, that a young girl or boy’s insecurities don’t have to come from social media.

She also makes it seem that there is something wrong for liking these images. She says these images of beautiful beaches or a girl wearing a dress are brainwashing me.

That is far from the truth. I like these pictures not because I want to model the people in the pictures, but because they are nice to look at. Why must I have a perfect reason to look at a picture of ice cream?

I think instead of “quitting” social media, she should’ve deleted her old pictures and posts and started anew. To use these platforms to further spread her opinions on issues that matter to her.

No one was forcing her to post pictures of her wearing a striped dress, or a picture of her in the pool.

Instead of starting this anti-social media fight, she should’ve use these resources to talk about real world issues. Think of how many people she’d influence if she called upon her following of 500,000 people. She could’ve started a revolution for something that matters to her.

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