You may have heard the story about Sunshine Coast Instagrammer, Essena O’neill, who at the age of 18 and having reached 500,000 Insta followers, 200,000 YouTube followers + a decent following on Tumblr threw it all in, deleted her social media accounts but renamed her Insta “Social Media Is Not Real Life” while having re-edited captions to pictures already posted.
“I haven’t done anything for this success except put pictures of myself online,” Essena told her followers in one of her last videos to YouTube before signing off forever.
It’s an ongoing issue that society is dealing with as a result of the digital world and power of social media. Girls and guys alike are making their bread (and some darn good bread) simply by posting photos of themselves – wearing an outfit, drinking tea or holidaying at a certain destination.
Now as a blogger, I’m guilty of doing this and I accept this may make me to appear hypocritical. But in my “defence” I have always ensured that the brands/products/services I promote I legitimately enjoy and would recommend regardless of whether I got free products or payment for the post.
In my adult years and my obsession to be liked/considered normal and capable, I lost myself and turned to social media for validation trying to promote my blog (even before becoming vocal about my mental health), my styling services and myself – although I couldn’t honestly tell you why… I think I thought that if I was “popular” on social media, that equals acceptance and likeability.
I contracted and paid a social media agency to get me that validation in likes and followers. Over the last 6 months or so, my photos received increased likes and my profile received more followers. I justified the payment by telling myself, it was PR – that these were genuine people who genuinely liked who I was and what I posted. The strategy was to target like minded profiles and to source potential business opportunities and collaborations.
As those likes and followers increased, I felt good about myself. Temporarily – although in the back of my mind I knew I was paying for it, it gave me a false sense of belonging.
But it’s not real, it never was and to cement that notion, I discovered this agency was using an auto bot system with fake followers and likes, so the increases weren’t authentic anyway! I of course cancelled my contract (deleted the fake followers) and now aim to be real and let people find me (and follow me) based on merit and legitimacy.
This desire to be liked and followed by complete strangers is incredibly unhealthy in so many ways. Not just with body image but your own personal self worth.
As someone who has a mental illness, the stress I would feel if a blog post or picture didn’t get noticed turned to illogical thinking and anxiety.
Nobody likes me. I’m a failure.
What a bunch of BULLSHIT! I’m angry at myself for believing these thoughts for so long, even though this thought pattern is common with people who have Bipolar Disorder or other mood and personality disorders.
As a result of my illness, I became isolated and my only stimulation and way to the world was through social media.
I know why I sought that acceptance and desire to be noticed, and looking back it’s really quite sad. For so long, I wore many masks to hide who I was, to hide the Bipolar, ashamed that no-one would like me if they found out “what I was really like” lol. So ridiculous. This is obviously part of my own journey in acceptance and learning. This is ongoing of course, but I’ve developed a great deal of insight as a result.
Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are. Why we as a society allow anything other than love and acceptance in our hearts is beyond me.
Yes, learning to love yourself is the first step and that takes time but as a Species, surely learning to be empathetic, sympathetic, supportive, accepting and loving of all that roam this Earth is just as important.
I’ve experienced stigma and bullying from people who not only don’t know me but have never spoken to me. After many years of being consumed by these negative emotions I learnt that the issues weren’t with me.
I know now that not only am I likeable, I’m loveable even. I am funny, kind, generous, loyal and creative. I also swear a lot, am incredibly messy and spend most days alone. See, it’s all about balance :-).
My social media presence has probably already peaked – and I’m okay with that. I know i’ll never be a famous Insta influencer or blogger – and I’m okay with that. But social media has given me a voice, a platform to share my story and help others which ultimately gives me joy and satisfaction.
My photos will never be phenomenal because I’m not a skilled photographer, you’ll see blemishes, wobbly bits, bad hair and daggy clothes – yes, the good the bad and the ugly.
But none of these things define who I am or the quality of person I am.
Judging someone based purely on their social media says more about you than it does about them…
See my post on Social Media Hallucination HERE