“We all wanna feel valued. Don’t let them trick you.”
Quitting social media: unheard of, right? Many of us couldn’t imagine life without it. But as we are the first generation to experience it, nobody really knows the long term effects of growing up on a diet of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The answer sits here with Essena O’Neill, a former model and YouTube and Instagram ‘star’. Essena has experienced social media on a much larger scale than the rest of us, making it her ‘job’ by the age of 18. She admits becoming swept up in the online world but now she sees the dangers, and she wants to share them.
In what feels like a genuine, personal, emotional video, Essena tells us what she wishes she’d told her 12 year old self: having half a million followers on Instagram won’t make you happy.
Essena recalls ‘having it all’: 500k followers on Instagram, 100k views on each YouTube video, a modelling contract, the ‘perfect’ lifestyle, and yet she was still miserable.
Having a glimpse of the life she thought she wanted, all Essena could think about was “money and numbers and how good I was looking.” She stresses that you can’t let the numbers define you. The ‘likes’, the views, the followers, the contrived images that take hours to perfect – they aren’t real.
Her lasting message: you don’t have to prove your value on social media to feel valued.
Essena hopes her movement will make a difference. She encourages doing ‘real’ things that excite you, living in the moment, and engaging with people in ‘real life’.
The video ends quite sadly, with Essena asking for people to contribute to a support page. She needs money for rent and food. After quitting her ‘job’ on social media, Essena can’t afford her real life anymore.
Since deleting her YouTube account, the video has been removed from Essena’s channel but it has been re-uploaded here:
You can read more about Essena’s movement and pay to support her on her website, ‘Let’s be Game Changers.’