So I have some thoughts on this Essena O’Neill quitting social media situation. I wanted to sit and think about it before I shared my feelings. So first a bit about me. I’m a fashion and lifestyle photographer and I mostly work with bloggers. I also do social media consulting and I teach workshops on Instagram. Also I love social media. A lot. My career wouldn’t be where it is without social media. So to be honest, I feel some type of way about this situation.
My friend asked me the other night what I thought. Simply put, I can see how easy it is to get caught up in the game. Get stuck on the numbers. How many likes. How many views. I think about the numbers. I wish I had a K in my number of Instagram followers. I wish I had more views on my YouTube videos. BUT and I mean the all caps, people need to take responsibility for their own actions. If you’re a close friend of mine you know how I hate the excuse of “well they are young”. Exactly when does “young” end? 18? 21? 24? 26? I know brilliant 23 year olds and idiotic 50 year olds. I know Essena is only 18 but I would have much rather preferred her say “I got caught up in the number game and I have to bow out”. Instead she is straight up blaming social media for her own choices.
I want to take this post away now from Essena and more toward the industry. I think a major problem is no one understands what bloggers and online influencers do. Viewers get so upset when influencers take on sponsored posts. But why? Celebrities promote brands all the time and no one bats an eyelash. So why does it matter when an influencer gets paid by a brand to promote? My opinion is because people think online influencers are doing what they do for “the love of it” and "for fun" so why should they get paid when they are doing something that they love? I have gotten this for years. “You love photography so can you take my photos for free!” No, sorry I don’t love photography or anything that much to be quite honest. For years even my closest friends did not take me being a photographer seriously. It’s just a hobby. Why should I get paid for that? To me it wasn’t a hobby. This was my livelihood.
Ok, I feel like I went on a tangent there. Let’s bring it back. I feel like everyone is like “Yes! Down with social media!” while they share her video on social media. Um, do we not see the problem with that? There is nothing wrong for getting paid to promote products. Just do so ethically and listen to your conscious.
I just want people to have two takeaways here:
1) Blogging, YouTubing, Instagramming, and general social media-ing are businesses where people make money and there is nothing wrong with it. It’s 2015 and the climate is changing. People are starting their own careers now just by being themselves online and that is awesome! That is something that should be embraced.
2) People need to take responsibility for their own actions. Maybe it’s this generation or maybe it’s just that no one likes saying “Yeah, I messed up." but don't blame the game when you were an active participant.
Do I think Essena has ulterior motives with this move off of social media? I do. She is getting even more people talking about her and is getting interviewed by even larger media platforms than she was on before. Is she a bad person? No. I wish she would take responsibility for her own role in her life. And if she was at the "pinnacle of her career", why is she broke now and asking people to send her money? Also, if she started this when she was 12, where the hell were her parents?!
There are a ton of other people who have opinions on this subject so I definitely recommend reading/watching what I linked below.
Original video by Essena (uploaded by a different user).