Is it just another media stunt and a set of double standards or has Sunshine Coast teenager Essena O’Neill had a serious change of moral heart and awoken to better her current sense of self?? Is there such a thing as a pressure of social media? Is this even a real thing?
It’s a case that has left us pondering and none of us will truly know the answer to Essena’s story until time tells if the queen teen’s actions really do speak louder than her words.
However the good thing that has been reveled from Essena O’Neill’s possible ‘social media stunt,’ is the pressure to post ‘perfect images’ on social media platforms, like Instagram. This brings into the spotlight how much Instagram and other social media avenues really can be likened to ‘a game.’ And it’s how we individually choose to participate in that game and the way in which we present ourselves to the world that matters.
Sometimes we feel the pressure to post the perfect pic; the perfect selfie, the perfect holiday snap, the perfect morning breakfast click, the perfect bikini shot.. the list is endless.
And for people using social media to build their businesses and personal profiles, it really is all just a game. Keeping track of stats and like, reposts and followings, the game of Instagram can certainly becomes tiring. Many everyday people are oblivious to the way that Instagram is in fact used, and to the unspoken or highly desired ways in which many high profile individuals seek out their large number of followers. For me Instagram is about quality over quantity. It’s not about being popular or striving to gain x amount of followers. And for some in business, that’s exactly what is high on the agendas of many. And this is fine! I repeat THIS IS FINE!! Everyone is different and has different purposes for doing the things they do. Who are we to pass judgment on another or say another way is wrong, just because it is different to your own.
But while we are talking about this today, I feel the need to talk about why social media can be positive.
I like to use my own Insatgram account as a way to challenge the everyday thinking and lives of ordinary people like myself. I want to inspire people to better their lives, to seek fulfillment and happiness, each and every day. And sometimes, seeking happiness can actually be a little harder than it sounds. Sometimes it requires bold decisions, changes in life directions and reflection of the people closest to us. It’s definitely not easy. And often it all starts with seeing other’s ways, hearing how other people have improved their lives for the better. And I believe social media is a positive tool for starting thought processes and conversations like this.
We have a conscious choice when we post to social media about the way we portray ourselves and our lives to others. On my blog’s Instagram page, I like to personally post images of myself that focus on my surfing and beachy lifestyle, as well as pics of my best experiences from wherever in the world I may be, rather than posting revealing images of myself in my bikinis. But each to their own, and, I’m not judging. It’s about being true to yourself and over time, maintaining that image and being realistic about your own sense of self.
As a travel blogger, I also get paid to post on behalf of brands. It’s a business and that is my job. I write reviews about places I travel to, places I am fortunate enough to stay in and about the fab experiences I have. That goes part and parcel with being a blogger and so does posting regularly to social media. But it’s also a conscious choice about choosing which brands to work with. I get many emails daily from brands that ask me to promote a product or write a review post on their goods and services. However, many of these I never proceed with. This is because I always have my audience in mind. I know exactly what my blogging and social media audiences like, what they want more of and I know how I want to help them. So if a brand simply doesn’t align with the core values of my blog, then that is that. I leave it there. I’m not out to make money from every place I can, or seek as many products and services as possible. Instead, like I said before, I’m about quality. I like to be honest and will only promote things I truly like or believe in. I want to help my readers improve their lives and help them to live the lives they have always dreamed of. And for me, accepting money from brands wherever I possibly can is just simply not something I would do. I have morals in life and in business and these are something I try to actively live out, each and every day, including on social media.
I do however like to post beautiful images and I do admit that I too feel the pressure to post the perfect pic. I’m only human. And being involved in the travel industry where my social media feeds are flooded with amazing pics, I like to think of it as inspiration.
From a young age I have always been creative and had an interest in photography. In my final year of high school I studied Visual Arts and for my major work presented a 12-piece photography body of work. And this was my best mark and subject in my final year of high school. It’s because it was something that I was truly interested in.
I very much have a love hate relationship with Instagram – for all of the reasons I have discussed. But one thing I do love from the perfect image debate is that I am exposed to amazing amazing images, and I have the opportunity to learn to better my own photography skills. And as a travel blogger, no one would be inspired if I posted pictures of back streets and dark alleyways, lets face it. So sometimes it is all about getting ‘the shot’ and I don’t necessarily think that has to be a frowned upon thing, whether a selfie stick is required or not! Ha
But I do also love being a vlogger and using platforms like You-Tube. And this is definitely where my little pink selfie stick comes to play. This is where people get to see more of the real me and I get to take people on virtual journeys around the world. This is what I truly love, getting to share my experiences and help others. This is why I started blogging; to help people see more of our incredible world and to help inspire people to do the things that make them happy. This is where people see my honest self and the person that I am. This is what is important to me; presenting my true self.
And I think that’s what’s good about what has come from our discussions and debates around Essena O’Neill’s recent trending story. I think as long as we are using social media for the greater good and being true to ourselves while we are at it, then that is the main point.
Of course everyone experiences hardships and low points in their lives, and let me tell you this year has been no easy exception for me. In fact, it’s been both the best and most challenging year to date yet – in my personal life, my relationships, the negative experiences I encountered whilst travelling overseas that I have had to try to move on from and forget, and of course with my health, which even caused me to cut short my travels this year and is still something that’s bothering me right now. But of course, that’s another choice again, whether we choose to share these things publically or not. And I have chosen not to until just briefly mentioning it now. And that’s the way it will stay.
So often on social media we do only see the positive, the bright, the happy and the perfect. We are in a way censored from the negative things that happen in people’s lives. But we all know that life is not all diamonds and roses. Everyone has their own share of hardships we have to face. But that is life. And I personally am glad that we don’t see these things posted regularly on social media, whether you choose to call that being ‘real’ or not. I like sharing the positive, the happy and the inspiring things that happen in people’s lives and I am thankful I get a share in that from the people that I connect with on social media.
So thank you to those that continually inspire me, help make me a better person and keep me awoken to the ways that other’s choose to live their lives. This is what I choose to take from social media, not the negative crap. Same with my life. So whether or not you believe that social media pressure is a real thing, next time you go for a scroll, a stalk or a double tap, whether you are someone that is a regular contributor to the social media world or someone who is a passive user, pause for a moment and be thankful of what people ARE sharing with you. Be grateful for the positive things in their lives and how it might personally contribute to your own life in a positive way. We need to be supportive, genuine and happy for each other, instead of bringing each other down. And that I feel is a massive part of what contributes to negative social media connotations; our own attitudes. So choose a positive attitude towards social media, contribute to it positively, be happy for others. If we all do this I’m sure the bubble we all know as social media will continue to soar for the better, and the pressures that come along with it will be used for greater goods.