St. Lucy's Priory High School

Cutting ties with social media can be a blessing in disguise

On Oct. 31, Australian model and social media star Essena O’Neill shocked her thousands of followers by announcing her departure from social media. She deleted her Snapchat and Tumblr accounts, and the few pictures she left on her Instagram were kept so people could, later on, view how she has changed.

She created a blog without a view count that helps promote more self and world awareness. This has sparked the current conversation about social media and its effects on society.

Earlier this year, I took a social media break myself. As an avid user of Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, Snapchat and Facebook, I was used to the panic of a procrastinator’s regret. I stayed up late many nights because of homework I failed to complete earlier in the day.

I also was very insecure with the number of followers I had on my accounts and likes I would get on my posts. I only posted things based on what I thought others would like.

During my month of being “social media free,” I felt the freedom O’Neill described in the first video of her blog. I was filled with a burning passion to do something beneficial and not waste my time. I flew through projects that would have normally taken me days to complete. I went out more with friends, focusing on having a good time instead of trying to take the right photo for Snapchat or Instagram. I interacted more with my family because I spent less time locked inside of my room doing my homework. I also discovered the career path I want to take. Knowing what I want to do in my future is probably one of the best feelings I have ever felt in my life.

Though it was difficult to stay off, I do not remember a time when I was more content. I was so happy and so free. My insecurities involved with social media disappeared and I was able to really love myself, for who I am and what I am able to do.

Since then, I have returned to social media, but I use it sparingly. I only use it after my homework is finished and I post content that I want to. I rarely look at the number of followers and likes I have.

Social media has driven teens to the point where we spend hours of our time trying to find approval in numbers on a phone or computer screen. We value beauty in photos more than the beauty of the life around us.

O’Neill’s move will definitely make people step back and take a look at their lives. It will make some people change their minds about their social media accounts, but most will only be affected for a day or two before falling back into their regular routine.

I agree with O’Neill that people should to try to stay off social media for at least a week and see how they feel. The seemingly impossible task might lead to overflowing happiness.