We’ve all been known to exaggerate on social media once in awhile, especially as a millennial. With the use of an Instagram filter and the right caption, we now have the ability to make a slice of cheesecake look glamorous. The question is; why do we do it? Is it for the likes or the affirmation? Or is it, in fact, to have a life beyond our 9-5 jobs and textbooks?
Eighteen-year-old Instagram star (apparently that’s a thing) Essena O’Neill may not have found the answer to this question, but what she did realize was that social media is not worth it. The realization went so far as to provoke the Australian teen to delete her Instagram account. In turn, she launched a website called Let’s Be Game Changers where she now posts videos – on Vimeo – ranting about the problems with social media and the beauty of becoming vegan. Cute. O’Neill then went on to challenge her followers to go without social media for one week. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other website ”where you can see others online”.
She has since created a so-called “social revolution,” which has gone viral. Obviously, O’Neill’s project has garnered positive feedback, but the question arises as to whether or not her and her followers have responded to this realization too dramatically. With millions of accounts on Instagram today, it is unfair to come to the conclusion that everyone on the social media site is unauthentic.
Despite her intention of creating ”social change”, O’Neill was criticized as a fame-grabber: for deleting her account for reasons other than sending an important message—but to get more attention. The accusations don’t seem like they are too far from reality. The fact of the matter is, if your Instagram account is making you feel miserable, you are not using it properly. As an 18 year old with over the half a million followers, O’Neill was bound to get a little overwhelmed trying to impress her fans.
So instead of deeming her a social media queen or a hoax in the making, it’s best just to commend her for her efforts in taking control of her mental health. However, we hope that O’Neill takes this opportunity to learn not to get too involved with virtual reality. Of course, it’s not for us to judge whether deleting her social media account is the right solution. In fact, all we can do is yearn for a time where Generation Y can find a balance when it comes to using social media platforms.
It’s a fun challenge to take on—to stay off of social media for a few days. In a world where we get our daily news from our Twitter feeds and lust over actors and actresses while we scroll down on Instagram, cleansing ourselves from social media can make us see the beauty of the outdoors. Remember what grass feels like? Bottom line; don’t dismiss O’Neill because she’s 18. Celebrate her because she is.
She may be a special cause—not every 18 year old has 500 000+ followers — but it is a good indication of the challenges Generation Y faces in terms of distinguishing social media from just being social. We hope O’Neill finds happiness and contentment in her new project. Good luck to everyone!