Instagramer Essena O’Neil just dropped the mic on her Social Media fame in the most epic “I quit” YouTube video ever.
Why is she quitting?
1. She realized that having the “perfect life” on Social Media, doesn’t equate to happiness. Having “it all” on Instagram doesn’t equate to actually having “it all” in life.
You can still be lonely, depressed, insecure & hate yourself while looking perfect on social media & getting 500 k likes every day.
Plus, everyone has shit to deal with.
2. She realized that success on Social Media equates business.
Yes, Social Media is a business platform. When you get into the business side of things of Social Media this means you are now entering a different zone. There are rules to follow in this zone & money to be made.
But, you can still use social media without getting into the business side. You can still use it as a platform of self-expression. You just use it differently & not be as “successful.” Like this blog, I am not making a cent out of it, yet I do it. I sit down at my computer & compose my thoughts on things. Some people read it.
I don’t care, I do it because I like to write & it makes me happy just to see it posted.
3. She realized that she was basing her self-value & worth based upon the validation she received through Social Media. As a woman this was largely based upon her looks.
Our society is still projecting the message that your looks equals your value to girls. But, for your looks to be valuable you have to fit a certain mould:
- Long, shiny hair
- Thigh gap
- Flat stomach
- Bubble butt
If you don’t fit that mould then you are not as valuable. You don’t matter as much & you don’t deserve as much.
And what does it say our society, when even those women who fit the unattainable beauty ideal don’t feel it is attainable?
4. She realized that Social Media is not a substituted for real life.
Social Media can be a distraction from your real life. It can keep you stuck in your cycle. It comforts you with false validation & offers a screened coon from real life. You don’t have to take the same risks on social media as you do in real life. Social media can numb you to real life. You can’t feel life if everything is carefully edited & curated.
5. She realized that Social Media won’t cure loneliness.
Nothing can replace the enjoyment of a face to face human interaction & connection. A shared positive moment with a stranger – a smile or a conversation – can cure a feeling of loneliness for a day. Something 500 likes on Instagram can’t do.
6. She realized that she’s quitting social media for her 12-year-old self.
People like Essena grew up with the social media. They do not remember a time when “being online” didn’t exist. When having a profile & image wasn’t a key feature of everyone’s social life.
I cannot imagine how this can screw with your head as a teenager today. Or how it must screw with her head to be a teenage Social Media star.
Why is this important?
The fakeness of Social Media is not new. The realizations that you are not living an authentic life, that you are getting validation from the wrong places and pursuing a life that is not making you happy is not new. But, it is not everyday that an influential 19-year-old has this realization in public.
The thing is, she is right. How many of us are pursuing some illusion of perfection on our social media accounts? How many of us want to be one of the Kardashians & make millions of dollars for just “being me.” Living a life without substance but one of image is a fake life, that won’t make you happy.
I’m in my 30’s and realize this & really don’t care as much about “perfection” anymore. But, how many other 12, 17, 23 year olds out there are still enthralled by the pursuit of this Instagram perfect life? How many of them are following Kendall Jenner & wishing the looked like her? How many times does Kendall Jenner look in the mirror every day & wished she looked like Kendall Jenner?
We’ve created this culture of manufactured perfection. This idea that you can buy the perfect life & make everyone believe you live it. You can even buy the feeling of contentment your local pharmacy. But, you can’t buy a “a life.” At least not a real one. Note the kind that gives you belly laughs, shivers of excitement & wrenching sobs. No that life you have to be present everyday.