The creation of social media brought forth a new era of global interaction, giving each user the power to share their story with the click of a button. It jumpstarted the digitalization of sociality, allowing friends to share important life moments without ever leaving the comfort of their bedrooms. Unfortunately, it also created a pyramid of popularity.
A small group of internet superstars dominate the top of the pyramid with their record number of likes and followers, while the majority rest at the bottom, hoping to one day rise to the top of the food chain.
Social media is the force that fuels the superficial desire to fashion one’s “perfect image.” It has created a generation of people so obsessed with the way others perceive them that they cast their eccentricities aside and become what they believe to be society’s vision of perfection.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media absorb the population into an internet-controlled society, dictated by the desire to be pretty and popular. These apps create a false reality, encompassing nearly everyone with a smart phone.
Those who met the alleged standard of beauty spiraled into a world of internet fame, becoming role models for the public.
Australian Instagram fashion icon Essena O’Neill, 18, has chosen to use her social media platform to speak out against the negative effects of internet culture on self-confidence and creativity. Her decision to retire from social media is a powerful statement that exposes the truth behind internet fame.
O’Neill explained that every seemingly effortless Instagram post was the result of hours of modeling with a professional photographer.
Her caption on one of her Instagram posts says, “If you find yourself looking at ‘Instagram girls’ and wishing your life was their’s, realize you only see what they want.”
O’Neill’s wardrobe in her photos was fancier than any of the clothes she wore in her everyday life. Her followers expected a realistic depiction of natural beauty, which she failed to provide.
She was often paid to endorse products in her photos, making social media more of a business than a hobby. Her bold statement encourages people to post whatever makes them happy, rather than what they think someone else would like to see.
One of her main goals in quitting social media is to express that it does not matter how many followers or likes a person receives on social media because a number does not define their worth.
Her new website, letsbegamechangers.com, includes a video series of O’Neill speaking to her viewers on a personal level. She breaks down the social barriers between herself and the audience, showing the true face of the internet star they had grown to love.
Although her former internet persona failed to show the real Essena O’Neill, the refreshing level of authenticity in her videos inspired people to join her movement to change the world of social media for the better.