Sunday, 27 December 2015

Essena's "Quitting" Social Media

السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ,

Essena O'Neill stirred the internet with her announcement to quit social media because she thinks it's "fake". The irony is that she didnt actually quit it but just changed instagram captions to more honest captions and stopped making YouTube video. As one of her former-loyal followers I respected her decision. But what I recently discovered was quite shocking. But before that let’s get into a backstory.

O'Neill was an aspiring vegan from australia who secured a modelling contract in LA. a few months after moving, she dealt with inner conflicts (which was evident throughout her vlogs) then weeks after that came the whole fiasco. I remember her being so enthusiastic about veganism and promoted her overnight change towards being vegan. Back in Australia she broke up with her boyfriend and decided to quit college. I believe it was due to the infamous trend of believing that school limit real life learning and constrict development of ideas. Which for me is not completely true because I have amazing experiences being in a university at the moment. It was after that she focused more on making YT videos, then moved to LA because she got signed. She went to Thailand Fruit Festival, an international vegan gathering introduced by Freelee and Harley. There, she met her former best friend Bonny Rebecca (another vegan that I like!). Unfortunately, due to her recent fiasco, Bonny stated on her Tumblr that Essena changed number and they are no longer friends. From Bonny’s Tumblr, I also discovered that Essena initially launched a website to uncover the “fakeness” of social media and asked people to support her financially. Long story short, money’s gone, Essena’s also gone. Although that might not be the case because no one is actually speaking for Essena at the moment. 

So what was the whole quitting social media about? 
Essena explained in this video that she has built a whole career based on her Instagram followers. Stated that social media is a business and it is exploiting followers. She gets paid a lot for each post and all are staged for financial gains. Companies and sponsors send bullet points of what should be said, how she should pose and all that jazz. She re-captioned all her instagram photos to the real marketing behind it. Said she didn’t even want to model anymore because it’s fake. She meets people to post an instagram for money and likes. She blamed the social media for her break down and in the process, have hurt a lot of friends that she made THROUGH social media. 

What I think about this?

Marketing is everywhere. Not that it’s bad. If I had a business and I am convinced with my product, I’d send it for reviews and sponsor famous lifestyle icons. Does my product kill people? No. Are my products completely worthless and I market them solely for profit? Hell no, there are real passionate business persons in this world. Essena was too naive to realize that. Even if business is an evil thing, Essena had a choice. A choice to not make a career out of it. She was spreading great messages about veganism and positivity in life. People followed her for that. She didn’t have to label the whole social media fake. 

She described her whole “horrific” experience through a material perspective. She wanted more likes. She made a career out of it bla bla. A LOT OF PEOPLE MAKE CAREERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA. But they still make friends, they still live a realistic life, they have a life outside social media. Essena, you’ve been a great person and I loved your video. It’s you decision to change and I have no choice but to respect that. But first, I’d like to congratulate you on the money that you’ll be making out of this fiasco. The books that will sell out. The projects and fortune that’s coming your way. Congratulations, your marketing is genius too :) 

p/s: Nina & Randa also made a response video here

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