Is Social Media Bad? (Re: Essena O'Neill)

It's safe to say that Essena O'Neill is a household name after a certain video of hers went viral earlier this week. Now, I've b...

It's safe to say that Essena O'Neill is a household name after a certain video of hers went viral earlier this week. Now, I've been following Essena for around a year already, because I loved her thoughts on veganism and I believed she was a genuine person. Her videos and blog posts always seemed to have a positive message, so I was intrigued. That was until recently. Her "downward spiral" toward social media became apparent as I noticed changes to both her YouTube channel, and to her Instagram.

In the video, Essena discusses the evils of social media as portraying "contrived beauty" referencing her own online persona. She discusses the reality behind some of her own images including paid product promotions, starving herself, airbrushing her own imperfections and her obsession with her own body image. All the while promoting yet another social media site? Huh?

On that note, I'd like to point out that Essena is only 19 years old. It's common for young girls to feel confused, insecure and desire perfection, and in many respects, we can trace that back to the media's idea of beauty. Hell, sometimes I feel insecure and I'm practically 22. The difference between Essena and myself is that I'm very aware that perfection is an unattainable form of beauty, and I'd like to believe that most girls are as well. It's clear that she's just going through some s**t, and that's natural.

But rather than denouncing social media entirely, I'd like to offer Essena some advice. Instead of portraying an idea of yourself that you see as negative, why not use your social media status for good; to promote veganism, a positive body image, and the well-being that you stand for?

Do I believe that Essena makes some decent points on the validity of some social media stars? Sure. But I also believe that social media is what you make of it, and the way you choose to portray yourself. If you develop your brand with the intention of "selling" perfection, than yes, it would be fake. No one is perfect.

I don't think it's fair to assume that everything you see online is fake or a business proposition. For many online personalities, social media is an outlet of true self-expression. If you want to post a beautiful photo of yourself? Do it. It harms no one, and promotes a positive body image. I've watched social media stars grow up (mainly on YouTube) and build self-confidence and friendships that they might not have had otherwise if it weren't for social media. Myself included.

Do I think that social media is "evil"? Not a chance. The way you portray yourself online should be an outward expression of yourself. Your brand is only "fake" if you make it that way.

Jenna x

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