Last week, a video of Essena O’Neill made rounds in the internet. I don’t know her and I don’t follow any of her social media platforms but because her video kept appearing on my screen I eventually watched it. Let me first give you a back story.
From Elle.com: Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old from Australia, was a regular teen who amassed half a million followers on Instagram (on top of 200,000 followers on YouTube and Tumblr and 60,000 on her Snapchat, all now inactive) with selfies, outfit posts, and #fitspo photos. After building that up, she decided last week that she was done with social media. She deleted 2000 photos, renamed her account to “Social Media Is Not Real Life,” and changed the captions on existing photos with truthful anecdotes about posts she was paid for, how many tries it took to get the shot, and the pressures she felt to look perfect.
In this day and age of information explosion, the old adage that states “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are” could be rephrased as “Show me your FB and IG feed and I will tell you who you are”.
Social media is a powerful tool that can make or break us. The above mentioned situation reminds me of the Bible verse: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Money is NOT BAD at all. It gives us the means to do transactions, to buy our needs, and to help others. However, when used with the wrong motives, then that’s when your misery comes in. Parallel to that, SOCIAL MEDIA alone is not bad. However, if we will create a façade and use social media for social approval, then that’s when the problem starts. If we would let the number of “likes”, “views”, and “followers” define our values as an individual, our lives will be miserable. We should not let ourselves be defined by numbers. We should be honest with ourselves. Social media is just a tool, we should not let ourselves be its slaves.
We need to do some introspection and ask ourselves, “What is my intention in using social media?” If it is to stalk someone and to pretend to be somebody that you are not, YOU HAVE THE WRONG INTENTION. If your intention in posting in social media is to flaunt, brag and portray another persona, then you’re intention is wrong. Social media should be used to connect and to share. If it makes you feel insecure and lost, it is no longer healthy – by all means stop using social media and evaluate your intention and motives.
I don’t have millions of followers in my social media platforms but I’m happy. Why? Because I have this virtual space where I can share some of the inspiring things in my life. Those things are true. Those photos might not be perfect but I know that they are real. I don’t pretend to be somebody else in social media.
Aside from using social media with the right intention, we should also choose the people we connect with in social media. I was able to connect with people who share the same passion, same thoughts, same interests. I was able to meet people through social media who eventually became my friends. Those people are REAL, the friendships that we build are REAL. We were able to build a community where we help and empower one another. We promote collaboration over competition. This is a virtual space that can maximized to connect to the community with the same values.
We need to be responsible in using social media. If used with the right intention, social media can be of great help. I am using ‘closed groups’ and ‘secret groups’ in Facebook to brainstorm with collaborators as we organize events. I am using Pinterest boards to show my ideas to the photographers, videographers and stylists. I am using Instagram to connect with the sponsors and other collaborators. We need to know how to use social media properly and responsibly.
Lastly, don’t let social media dictate who you are. Don’t let social media hinder you from being yourself, from improving yourself, from living your life to the fullest and being the best person that you can be. Getting the right balance is the key. Use social media with the right motives and intention at the same time, don’t forget to go outside, explore, have fun, spend time with your family and love ones, learn a new skill, do arts and crafts, live YOUR LIFE to the fullest and strive to achieve your best potential as a person.
How about you? What are your thoughts about social media? Do you use it with intention? If so, how do you maximize the use of social media?