Social Media is Not Real Life

Advertisements, magazines, and television typically catch the blame when it comes to representation of unrealistic body image ideals. However more recently with the rise of the use of social media in everyday life… there could be another culprit in the uphill battle.

Virtually every person has access to some for of social media and according to, “People in the U.S. check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts a staggering 17 times a day, meaning at least once every waking hour, if not more.”

I think it would be safe to say that we are quite literally consumed by consumed by social media, and while it can be beneficial that is not always the case.

Recently, Instagram star Essena O’Neill quit all forms of social media stating “Social Media is not real life” after making a career of it since the age of 12. Prior to deactivating her accounts, O’Neill had approximately 612,000 Instagram followers and claimed she made an average of $2,000 AUD a post. This fame came at a great cost according to O’Neill, which is why she chose to leave it all behind.

Before she deactivated her accounts however, O’Neill went through her posts giving them “accurate” captions to show her followers what really was behind her “effortless” photographs.

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“Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this. Yep totally #goals”

O’Neill also posted a final video on YouTube explaining her decision to quit social media and the impact that it had on her life.

According to CNN, “O’Neill said she felt unworthy and unpopular by society’s standards unless she was validated with lots of likes and views. She said she would follow famous Facebook users who she thought had it all because they had so many likes and followers.”

CNN also writes that, “She wants fans to know that posts are “edited and contrived to get more views,” which puts pressure on young girls to look perfect and to chase an unrealistic version of the ideal body.”

While I do applaud O’Neill for bringing attention to the reality of social media stardom and the unrealistic lifestyles and ideals they portray, she only begins to scratch the surface of the issue.

There still are and will always be thousands of social media personalities who whether it be fashion or fitness are paid to sell a lifestyle to viewers. And since social media is a much more “personal” method of advertisement they are able to fool many of their followers into buying that ideal… the majority of them young and unable to differentiate between social media and “real life.”

It is important to acknowledge that advertisements run on television, in magazines, and seen on billboards are not the only displayers of industry driven ideals. We are overwhelmed by these messages in almost every aspect of our lives… some of them are just more subliminal than others.



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