instafamous

Essena O’Neill is a virtual Panhandler.

I saw about 500 different articles yesterday on facebook, buzzfeed, instagram, and tumblr about some girl named Essena O’Neil quitting social media to live life in the real world. I guess this girl was “instagram famous” and companies would pay her to post pictures wearing their clothes or drinking their tea or whatever product they wanted her to endorse. So social media was essentially her career. 

Apparently, Essena had some eye-opening experience that made her realize that she based her self-worth on followers and likes, and that social media is all a facade or “not real life” as she says over, and over, and over, and over again in her 3 youtube videos she made about why she’s quitting social media. She goes on and on for like 15 minutes about how social media isn’t real, she won the genetic lottery, and that people need to get off their phones and live in the now. “Hell yeah! What a great message!” i thought to myself as I watched, but then she completely ruined it for me by closing her message with a pathetic plea for her followers to give her money because she can’t afford her rent. 

This made me furious. Here we have this perfectly healthy 18 year old girl, an alleged straight A student, crying about wanting to live a normal life in the real world, but not actually doing anything to live her desired “normal life” and begging strangers to financially support her. How in the hell is that a step towards living a normal life in the real world? I don’t think her intentions were ever to live a normal life. In my opinion, she’s exploiting a real issue to promote her new blog so she can continue to make money by literally doing nothing, and she’s receiving praise for it. That’s sickening. 

You never quit a job when you have financial responsibilities to take care of and no source of income lined up to replace the job you’re quitting. I thought this was common sense, but I guess I just have good parents and smart friends because this is something I’ve been perfectly aware of since I started working. This girl had a job, social media, that allowed her to take care of her rent and bills without having to depend on someone else to do it for her. I find it ridiculous that people are giving her praise for being irresponsible and quitting her job, leaving her incapable of taking care of herself. I get it, her job was making her depressed and it wasn’t healthy for her to live that way anymore. Guess what? In the real world, pretty much everyone hates their job! I work in a restaurant and deal with assholes all fucking day to the point where I don’t even want to be around people most of the time, but I would NEVER quit my job and put myself in a position where I can’t pay my rent. To be perfectly blunt: that’s just fucking stupid. She is receiving so much attention and praise for something that in the “real world” she so desires to be a part of would be considered stupid and irresponsible. She isn’t accountable for her actions whatsoever, and we are just enabling that. 

So I guess no we’re supposed to feel bad for this poor 18 year old girl who quit her social media job to live a normal life where she begs strangers to support her. An 18 year old, straight A student, who is mentally stable, well bodies, and 100% full capable of finding a normal real world job, but would rather blog about wanting to live a normal life and rely on her followers to support her. Really? We’ll support an adult who is 100% capable of taking care of herself, but when we scoff, judge, and look down on homeless people that ask for spare change outside of stores or on street corners? This girl who has a roof over her head, food in her refrigerator, and clean clothes on her back is more deserving of your spare change than a mentally ill and damaged veteran who has literally nothing? PISS OFF. This girl is no different than the panhandlers you see asking for money outside of stores that eventually drive off in a car nicer than yours cause they’d rather ask people for money than work for it. If you have money to spare, please don’t give it to some girl who is more than capable of taking care of herself. Donate it to a charity, give it to a homeless person, or use it to buy food for a homeless person if you feel skeptical about giving them money. Don’t let yourself be scammed. 

And who follows this girl? What is the demographic of her fans? Well, who uses social media the most: teenagers and young adults. It’s hard enough to take care of yourself  and be financially independent at that age, let alone being responsible for someone else. I find it kind of insulting that I bust my ass trying to balance full-time school with working almost full-time, and this girl wants to beg me and other people going through the same shit as me to pay her bills. Get the fuck out of here. If she put as much energy into finding a job as she’s putting into promoting her blog, then she would for sure be employed right now. Expecting teenagers and young adults, who are most likely working and going to school in order to better themselves, to support you financially is just wrong and she should be ashamed of herself for even asking. 

Social media can be harmful, and it’s important to educate young people about the psychological harm that can happen to people who measure their self-worth in social media popularity. Everyone, and i mean everyone, tries to make their lives seem so much more interesting on social media and it’s important to recognize that and avoid comparing your life so someone’s social media life. If you find yourself getting upset because your life isn’t as exciting as someone’s life on social media, or if you get upset because your picture doesn’t get a million likes on instagram, remember than you’re so much more valuable than that! And if you get to a point where it affects your mental and/or physical health, then get professional help. Know that you are beautiful, loves, and important. I remember the story of Madison Holleran on ESPN called split image and it’s worth the read if you are intrigued by this topic. But don’t support some girl who is exploiting a real issue to gain more attention and to fool people into taking care of her financial responsibilities. We didn’t force her to become an instagram celebrity, we didn’t force her to accept money and sponsorships from companies, we didn’t tell her to make social media her life, and we are not responsible for taking care of an adult who is more than capable of taking care of herself. This isn’t an attempt to start a movement, this is a clever marketing strategy so Essena can rebrand herself. Don’t buy into the bullshit! 

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