The dark side of social media

This is important.

Essena O’Neill, a social media “celebrity”, has more than half a million followers on Instagram, 200,000 on YouTube and Tumblr, and 60,000 on Snapchat. Despite these impressive numbers, she is quitting social media for good. The 18-year-old Australian  has come to terms with her “perfect life” (as portrayed on social media) and is now taking a stand against the destructive ideals social media encourages.

Here is a great article by TIME illustrating her decision.

In this day and age, we put so much emphasis on validation and approval from others, especially through social media…I’m definitely guilty of it.

We stalk and obsess over popular instagrammers who seem to have perfect lives – beautiful faces, fit bodies, stylish clothes, amazing adventures, the list goes on.

We make it our goal to be like them. We strive to find happiness and fulfillment through the number of likes, views and followers we receive.

Social media has turned into a platform where we too often compete for likes and followers, and base our self-worth on how many people find our lifestyles cool and appearances attractive.

Why are we looking up to and admiring those whose success is merely based on how they look? There are far more admirable qualities to possess than just being pretty or sexy.

We should seek happiness and fulfillment through real human interaction, connection and praise, among other things, rather than through the screen of a smartphone and the logistics of an app.

Enjoy life’s moments. Stop worrying about documenting every single exciting moment of your life on camera so you can post it on facebook, snapchat, Instagram, or whatever social media outlet to validate your worth and prove something (prove what, exactly?) to those around you.

There are men and women making real, effective changes in today’s world. They are the ones who should be leading by example.

All of that being said, having lots of followers on social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you’re promoting or advocating for what you love, post significant, meaningful content, and are using social media to actually make a positive impact, then that’s awesome. Keep it up.

I applaud this girl for stepping back and looking at the big picture. I remember coming across her Instagram a few months back and feeling envious of her seemingly flawless appearance and luxurious lifestyle. It’s sobering to see that social media “fame” isn’t all that it’s made out to be, and can easily turn into an avenue of self-destruction.

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