By now I’m sure everyone’s heard of former Instamodel Essena O’Neill and her tirade against social media. The reason I say this is because all the major media outlets are cramming the story down our throats. It’s not as if O’Neill’s claim that “social media is not real” is news. I know social media is just everything that a person wants you to see, and none of what they don’t. On top of that, we live in a new culture of branding, selling and promoting on popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In my opinion, people getting famous for nothing, and reaping financial benefits from it is the real problem. Not my friend Karen’s annoying post about her “amazing vacay” in Palm Springs (#palmspringsbitches) when she only just texted moments ago about what a shit time she is having because her mother won’t stop nagging her about being single and childless at 30.
This girl takes down her Instagram and YouTube profiles because she means “serious business.” But let’s be honest. Nobody really “quits” social media. I know. I’ve tried. She’s already shamelessly self-promoted about her new website, which has one too many typos for my liking, but that’s just my snobby English major side rearing its ugly head. She’s back posting online, just on a different platform. One that she controls. Where shares and comments are still a function. Theoretically, anyone could be consumed by the same issues that social media presents with a website or blog. Simply swap out likes for page views. It’s not social media that is the problem. It’s how one chooses to use it.
O’Neill chose what she posted. I’ve come across many a thoughtful and artistic Instagram profile, the user’s passionate and opinionated on issues of importance to them. O’Neill managed to grow a large following. She could have taken advantage of that to help spread her message, and promote her website. Instead, she chose to vilify Instagram and YouTube, platforms that allowed her to be discovered and heard, and preach to those on the platforms and the media for not talking about “what matters.” In reality, the message she chose to share, and the value she put in likes and followers, was all in her own control. If she should blame anyone for her social media not being “real,” it’s herself.
Personally, I’d love to quit social media. I’d love to chuck my smartphone in the garbage, opting for a crappy flip phone circa 1999. The only reason I haven’t is because I’m directionally challenged and rely heavily on Google Maps. And I’d lose all my progress on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. But the truth is, I recognize it’s unrealistic. Because social media is a tool. A source of information. Sure, I need to scroll through annoying posts about people’s children and what they ate for lunch to get to it. But it’s there.
For those times when I just can’t even, I announce my departure from the social media world and delete the apps from my phone. At these moments, I’m feeling particularly unproductive in life. But I don’t demonize social media as a whole for my own short attention span. People use it how they want to, and who am I to say whether it matters or not? Who am I to berate Karen for posting a cute kitten video (again), when what she should really be focusing on are the important matters like ISIS or Donald Trump? If I don’t like how I feel about social media, I take a step back from it. Regroup. Figure out what’s important. Did I post that for me? Or for validation from others? Do I care? Lately, I can tell you that I don’t. And the truth is, nobody else gives a shit either.
Instamodel Meltdown: Essena O’Neill’s Social Media Tirade
November 3, 2015