Essena O'Neill: Social Media is Not Real Life & The Lie

By Cathy H - 12:36 AM

This past week, while browsing through the internet I came across an article about Essena O'Neill who is a 18 year old girl that quite all social media, claiming it to be too contrived and fake in terms of portraying what actual real life is like. She addresses this issue in re-editing captions in what is left of her Instagram pictures with what she was actually thinking at the time of the photo or what lengths she went to "look good" for her online presence. Regardless of whether is is self promotion, or seeking more attention through claiming all social media to be detrimental- it got me thinking of the nature of social media. Take my instagram for example, just a scroll down shows all the beautiful places I've been, the nice foods I've ate, the makeup or outfit of the day posts. All the highlights of life. Not to say that my life is bland outside of their perfectly crafted photos, but it is obviously not a accurate portrayal of real life. 

No one sees the moment to moment in-betweens of having an unexciting day, of me working in a cafe for long hours, of me surviving a 30 hours flight and airport wait time. So my concern is, where are the "in-between" moments of other people's life shown? They are not. Which is why people compare with one another and try to have the best online presence, showing off the best life. But maybe they are jealous of each other. And even if someone did have it BETTER than the other person, does they really mean they are happier? Does that really mean they have a better life? How do you measure these kinds of concepts? There is no universal measurement. 

Take the picture of me in this post for example: no one sees how I had to wake up at 5am in order to be on time in order to get to this place, or the 3 hour bus ride in between. Or how I was internally thinking that I wanted to eat dinner asap and I wanted to head to the hotel already. Sometimes I feel like despite liking photography, I often capture what would be the most interesting thing in other people's eyes, what would captivate their attention, the best parts of everything. Therefore, I think social media is so contrived. And not to sound morbid, but what's the point of taking pictures of everything and keeping some image of "living the life" so that others can validate one's life as a good one? Because when we leave this world we cannot take any kind of status, approval or validation with us? No one really cares. 

As Essena said, this creates a perfectly contrived image of one's life. I think it is just a reminder that there are many aspects to one's life, and one shouldn't rely purely on social media to validate their life. I mean, my life through social media is pretty accurate because I do go traveling a lot and I love makeup etc. but even I know that most days I'm just wondering "what am I doing with my life" or watching some show on my bed and eating a boring fast food restaurant. Life isn't all living for the gram. 

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