By Susannah Hutcheson, Regular ContributorNovember 12, 2015
image via elle.com
Oh, Instagram, how I love you. You have the ability to make my life look like a perfect, clean square. Your filters make everything I do look slightly artistic- from the homework I’m (probably not actually) doing to the steaming cup of coffee (probably not my first… or my last) to the one spot of my room not messy and unmade.
I’ll be the first to admit that half the time my Instagram pictures are pretty dang staged.
I mean, I’ll be doing my homework and then I’ll arrange it just so and take a picture of it. So weird, right? The other day I bought three bags of popcorn, and I put them on the patio outside so I could take a picture of them before I opened them. I’m not even necessarily sure why, but Instagram is pretty gratifying. There’s something really fun to me (and slightly addicting) about curating pictures and putting them on an app.
However, I also follow a lot of people on Instagram. I follow fashion bloggers, YouTube makeup stars, models, reality TV show stars, and all sorts of people. Their lives make my slightly filtered life look like it doesn’t quite measure up. I don’t have abs, I can’t afford a $4000 handbag, I don’t go on 14-mile runs every morning, and I don’t start every morning with quiche and a mimosa. But then again, they probably don’t either.
Last week, Australian model and Instagram and YouTube star, Essena O’Neill, announced that she was quitting Instagram. Over the last several years, O’Neill had become a massive Instagram phenomenon- amassing over half a million followers and posting pictures of herself and her life, perfectly filtered and posed. She appeared to have the prettiest, perfect life, but she says she was intensely unhappy and disgusted with herself.
“I was addicted to what others thought of me, simply because it was so readily available,” she said.
“I was severely addicted. I believed how many likes and followers I had correlated to how many people liked me. I didn’t even see it happening, but social media had become my sole identity. I didn’t even know what I was without it.”
O’Neill announced that she was shutting down all of her social media accounts and also changed many of the captions on her pictures to read what was actually occurring when she took them. She spoke of the unhealthy measures she took to get the perfect swimsuit shot, the amount of makeup on her seemingly bare-faced selfies, and that she felt completely meaningless without social media at her back.
O’Neill has now started a campaign called “Let’s Be Game Changers,” where she is focusing on helping people pursue lives not contingent on their Instagram likes, where their phones are left at home or in their pockets. The campaign is designed to encourage people to stop putting such a focus on social media- and instead focus on their lives.
Be a game changer.
How do you use social media? Are you addicted? How can we start to put down the phones and start to live free of social media pressure? Tell us below!
Susannah is a Journalism major, passionate about social justice and Jesus Christ. She loves cold weather, triple-shot lattes, and macaroni and cheese. When she’s not writing papers or baking cookies, you can find her Googling random things on the Internet or watching large amounts of reality television. You can read her ramblings at ileftamessinthekitchen.wordpress.com, or look at pictures of her coffee on Instagram: @susannah.beth.
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