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Behind the beauty of Social Media

Wednesday 4 November 2015, by SIGNIS

Brussels, Paris, November 4th, 2015 (NouvelObs/HuffingtonPost/SIGNIS/I V) During his US Tour last September, Pope Francis said Social Media were making people lonely. This is proven today with the young Australian girl Essena O’Neill.

Essena is a real star on social media, especially on Instagram. She’s been active for many years, and at only 18, she has more than 700000 followers. She posts pictures of her daily-life, showing how great her life is. But on November 2, she decided to stop; she doesn’t want to lie anymore. She explained her choice on a video posted on YouTube.

In her video “ Why I REALLY am quitting social media - The Truth.”, she explains how her “job” exhausted her mentally. “ Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. (…) I had a perfect life, millions of followers, and for many, I had succeeded”. She explains that she was asked to advertise products, being paid by the companies and being told what to say and how to wear the product. For instance, she shows a picture of her, wearing a dress, saying she got paid 400€ to wear it.

She adds “I’m quitting Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr. Deleted over 2000 photos here today that served no real purpose other than self promotion. Without realising, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance (...) It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self absorbed judgement. I was consumed by it. (...) How can we see ourselves and our true purpose/talents if we are constantly viewing others? (…) I was both addicted to social approval and terrified no one would value me for myself. So I rewrote the captions of these false photos with short shots of reality”. Now, you can read as a caption on one of her selfies “I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it”. She adds “I thought I would have more value if I had views on YouTube (…) I would feel joy and happiness ».

Her words illustrate perfectly what Francis said: « Running after the latest fad, accumulating “friends” on one of the social networks, we get caught up in what contemporary society has to offer: loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognized.”

She now wants to focus on the “real life”, publishing videos on her blog “Let’s be game changers”, on more personal subjects. In her first video, she explains “I was this girl who had it all, and I’m telling you, having everything on social media doesn’t mean anything in the real life”.

She asked people who are addicted to social media to try disconnecting for a whole week, in order to re-connect with the real world. She has also asked “but please can someone make a social sharing platform not based on validation in views/followers/likes but shared for real value and love. Thank you. Please hurry up." Because “When you let yourself be defined by numbers, you let yourself be defined by something that is not pure, that is not real”, she insists.

Why I think social media sucks from Essena O'Neill on Vimeo.

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