'Social Media Isn't Real Life!'

I think we've all heard about Essena O'Neills story by now: about how she deleted her social accounts that were filled with sponsored posts and pictures that didn't represent her real life - about how she thinks social media 'isn't real life'. Even though she couldn't be more right: social media, including Instagram, definitely isn't real life - I think this action says more about her than about social media in general. I seem to be the only one who thinks that social media aren't all that bad: sure, (photo) advertising and sponsorships are 'real' things. But haven't they always been in our modern society? We are the ones who post pictures, we are the ones who decide whether or not our pictures represent our real life. I think social media are great: everyone has a chance to get his/her opinion heard, we can all inspire each other. Scrolling through photos of people I follow on Instagram, endlessly motivates me to create. I don't think social media are bad, even though they're not real life. Maybe that's because I never work with companies I don't genuinely like, I also post photographs of bad days and am not addicted to my phone/laptop/social media in general in any way - I don't know. But I don't believe in this 'social media revolution', I think we should all be thankful for the opportunities and possibilities living in a modern age gives us - and I think we shouldn't blame 'social media' for not representing real life: have media ever represented real life? - we are the ones who post the pictures. Instead of deleting a successful Instagram profile and creating a new website asking followers for money, that girl could've made the decision to start posting more genuine pictures. To stop working with companies she dislikes and doesn't believe in. Maybe the pressure was too much, maybe it was just a marketing strategy to start a 'revolution' and earn more money in this way. I have no clue, I just don't like how it has shaken up the internet, how girls and boys started deleting pictures, started posting pictures with captions like 'my feed is not my real life!'. Of course it isn't! But isn't that common sense? How could pictures we take and edit, words we write and selectively post on the internet ever represent a real situation? 

I think we should all look at the good sides of social media: of how we all can inspire others, of how we can all get our personal opinions across, of how beautiful friendships can emerge from online contact only. Yes, social media isn't real life. What should be remembered is that real life is real life, social media should be an extension of it.

have a beautiful day


  1. I think Essena's point isn't that social media is bad, per se, but the way in which society has placed an unrealistic expectation and regards for it that she's trying to exploit. It's because of this fact -- the fact that one has to live up to social media expectations, live a wonderful life in pixels, have self-validation through social media (negating this fact would be a complete farce), is the monster that Essena is trying to bring attention to.

    I understand your point about social media not being real life is what you're trying to justify here, and that it's something of common sense to understand this idea, but I do believe that Essena very well understands that social media most definitely isn't real life and knows that we know social media isn't real life, but by bringing attention to this point, she's knocking us off our preconceived notion of social media being a standard of a person.

    I hope I'm making sense here though it appears to me as if I'm rambling. Whatever the case, I don't write with hostility, merely with heart to discuss this issue, of which I believe a conversation is long overdue.

    May | THE MAYDEN | Bloglovin'

    1. Hi there May, first of all, thanks a lot for taking the time to leave such a long comment. I agree with what you stated, I however wanted to focus on the good side of social media. I don't think what Essena did is bad: you must be very brave to just 'delete' such a successful business - but the way she does it is a bit contradictory to me (first, she deletes her profiles, then she creates a website asking sponsors for money. It's a bit double, to me. If she really thinks social media are so bad, I believe she also could've gotten a regular job next to having a website - that's something so many people do). I can understand that she's trying to make a point here but with her influence she could've done so many great things. It's amazing that she's trying to do something because there are many things I also don't agree with, just the way she does it feels strange to me. If I were her I would've ended my contracts with brands I don't like and don't want to represent, I would've worked with brands whose ideas I respect and want to spread. I agree, though, that responsibility comes with influence and I can believe that it can be smothering.

      I obviously am not her and I think it's great that she's trying to do something about unrealistic standards (because I couldn't agree more with you about their negative influence), maybe I should've made that more clear in my post. It wasn't supposed to be a rant against Essena, I was just trying to show the good sides of social media - something that seems to be forgotten about these days.

    2. That's exactly what I thought and shortly before I saw her video I actually tried to point out this social media monster to a friend and showed him Essena's video afterwards saying 'That's exactly what I was talking about!'. I also think it sounds great that she'd love to take part in changing all this social media lifestyle but I have to admit I'm not too sure the way she chose was the best one or whether it could even work out at all and isn't just the same monster in a new disguise.

  2. Yes! Dit is dus wat ik precies denk. Waarom gaat ze opeens haast alle foto's verwijderen en een revolutie opwekken tegen het monster dat 'social media' heet? Ze kan toch ook gewoon haar account meer 'echt' maken, ik weet zeker dat ze dan nog mensen zal inspireren.
    Persoonlijk ben ik juist door social media (blog!) veel zelfverzekerder geworden, en hoewel er zeker slechte kanten aan zitten vind ik bijvoorbeeld Instagram heel inspirerend.

  3. It was really interesting for me to read this post as your opinion on it is quite the opposite of mine. First of all, I'm not too sure what to think about the way Essena O'Neill has performed her move (I don't think she has fully stepped away from that world when now just having moved to a blog - maybe that wasn't the smartest idea of hers if she wanted to turn her life over). However, I think it's quite important to actually talk about the negative aspects of a social media carreer.

    There are all these little boys and girls who obsess over Zalfie, OTPs etc. and how this life they live is THE DREAM. What they don't see most of the time is the pressure though. When the product you're selling is your manpower, then all that has to be good and presentable is your work. When the product you're selling for a living is your life - then your life has to be good. What about those bad days when you don't know how to move forward? What about the times when you don't feel like contacting anybody? What if you know your income depends on likes and clicks and that makes you feel an enourmous pressure to have a presentable, maybe even perfect life? To still get in contact with your followers because that's what your ability to afford your rent depents on? To do things you don't genuinely want to do because you feel like thousands or even millions of people want to see that?

    Even if those thoughts might not be the truth, I think they easily come with success. Success in general often leads to the feeling of a pressure to perform, to live up to your former capacity - but if that success came by presenting your life via Instagram or daily vlogging, this can easily make you feel like your life has to be as perfect as it looked beforehand. You start to obsess over the way your life looks instead of just living it - the moments you capture and present aren't real because you spent your time documenting them instead of living them while they seem like showing you living your life. And this actually makes a lot of people think 'Wow! This person is living the dream life! Just look what they're doing all the time!' while what they are actually doing is capturing an artificial life that isn't lived by anyone because the person who could live it is busy documenting it.

    I realise this might seem like quite a pessimistic viewpoint but I think as soon as social media turn into your actual carreer, it's pretty easy to lose track of things and slide into this life that isn't actually a real life - just as being CEO of a huge company might seem like the most amazing job to some who don't have it while many CEOs drown in the pressure and develop depression. Just as important as it is to show their point of view and the disadvantages of a manager profession, it's also important to start a discussion on the disadvantages of a social media carreer and being a celebrity in general (because Zalfie, PewDiePie etc. most definitely are celebrities by now). Especially when you sell your life (daily vlogging) instead of your abilities (acting, singing), to me it seems really hard to not feel the pressure of leading a perfect life - which you never will as life is not perfect. And I have to admit I wonder whether people who vlog their life every single day from waking up to going to sleep actually ever just live for the moment instead of the camera.


  4. Alright, forget about the parts 2 and 3, I lost them copying but apparently my text was even longer than your post anyway. What I wanted to point out is that social media can drag away a lot of your energy and leave you a braindead zombie disconnected from reality pretty easily. I think that Essena O'Neill's video could be the start of a long overdue discussion on that matter which I personally highly appreciate. I think especially for people dealing with depression and (social) anxiety social media and their impact can backfire severely while at first seeming like and amazing 'way out' as we as humans easily lack the ability to find our own worth in ourselves rather than outside attention (which social media might offer a little too easily). And although it's obvious to you that social media isn't real life it might not be as obvious for a twelve-year-old wasting their life thinking all those people's internet lives are 'goals' and forgetting to live the only life they have - their own.

    I hope I kind of pointed out what I wanted to. I really enjoyed your post! Have a lovely day! Lots of love, Isa x


    1. Hi there Isa - thanks a lot for writing such a long and elaborate comment, I really appreciate that you took the time to read and think about my post.

      First of all: I agree with the point you're making. I can understand that it must be very hard to live a life based on clicks and likes, as you called it, and I wouldn't want to do that myself. I don't think I could handle the pressure - and that's an aspect of Essena's story I really understand. It must be very tiring to live a life of always being in the picture, and everything you do has to be captured on film.

      I must be very honest and tell you that your comment got me thinking: 'what was the point I was trying to make?'. Even though I agree with what you say I still think this whole story gives social media a negative connotation, while I don't think that's necessary. Unrealistic standards and pressure are things that come with (social) media and CEOs (like your example) as well and I personally wouldn't want to be in that position. However, the way Essena is trying to turn the social media world around is a bit confusing to me personally and I would've done that differently. (like I said in my reply you already responded to)

      Again, the point of Zalfie and OTPs and PewDiePie you're making is one I 100% agree with. Zoella once posted a video of how her life seems perfect, how we only see the good sides and base our expectations on that and that really broke my heart - I can only imagine how tough it must be to always seem happy and positive.

      Writing this post is easy for me as I can put my phone away and not look at it for quite a while - that's different when you have bigger responsibilities. Again, thank you for leaving this comment - it gave my opinion a new impulse. I don't think we exactly disagree, I should've written more about unrealistic standards in the first place. I just wanted this post to be a little heads-up, to show that social media isn't always terrible and negative.

    2. I the part of my text that got lost because it was just too long I actually said (and forgot to mention it after it got lost) that I think it's important that you pointed out that social media isn't all bad and has a lot of benefits. You can reach so many people that easily and you can also meet a lot of new people. (I mean I probably would never have known about you without the internet and I have to admit I'm glad I do! :)) But I personally felt Essena's video was more directed at our relationship towards social media than social media themselves. However, I do get how you could understand that differently and I think it's a little too easy to just demonise social media and all their advantages while the actual problem is how irresponsible we tend to use them. Plus, I'm really not a fan of the way Essena seems to have chosen to proceed her carreer now either.

  5. some really interesting points here - I can agree that social media is a great place to share artwork/writing and other creative things and it is inspiring to see other peoples work on instagram etc.
    But I can also relate that some people take it too far and their following is based around them as a 'brand' rather than for having any particular talent. I imagine the pressure of having to promote this perfect image of your life to be quite depressing and would lead to you feeling isolated. although i am a bit suspicious of assena's motives especially as she hasnt quit social media entirely. So I guess I agree that social media isnt inherently evil - as it is a good place for people to share their talents and have their opinions heard, but I do think that this whole overly commercialized instagram "lifestyle blogger" movement is quite toxic sometimes. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!


  6. What a sweet blog header! x

  7. Ja, hier ben ik het dus echt helemaal mee eens Sjoukje!

  8. I definitely agree with you, social media isn't dishonest unless you make it yourself anyway, we choose what we post so surely it's just the person being dishonest not the whole enterprise? UGH! hahaha, I love social media I just hate it when people are deceptive for money xxx

  9. I agree with you -- social media opens up so many opportunities to people, allows information to be spread across the world. Without it, I wouldn't have my blog, and I couldn't read other blogs. I wouldn't have learnt so much about how what I eat affects my body and the planet negatively, I wouldn't witness the feminist movement that greatly takes place on Instagram, I wouldn't have access to great food ideas, great art or great opinions for free and with such ease. However, I wouldn't go so far as blaming Essena. I think my experience, and any one else's experience if they aren't as influential and famous as her, can't compare to hers. I can't possibly relate to the pressure she felt being a model, being in the public eye, literally living her life on social media. I totally understand why she would need a break from living through a screen and broadcasting an idealistic, flawed version of reality that inspires other girls to feel bad about their own bodies, jealousy and a fake, materialistic idea of happiness. Her life became a giant ad rather than a personal experience. For me, Instagram is for following people who support causes I'm passionate about or friends, and for posting photos I genuinely love, it's not at all the same as for her. So I understand what you mean, but I think there are two ways of looking at this, and we just need to know our own balance. Of course, Essena was obsessed with her online life, and that can be perceived as her fault, but honestly, who wouldn't have been sucked into that spiral if they had been in her situation? I find it extremely inspiring that she broke free from her social media and is using her power to help others realise that image isn't everything, that there is no such thing as a perfect life. As odd as it may seem to me and you, I think there are a lot of people who did think what she and other people on Instagram and other social media were showing their real lives, and who felt fat, unworthy, ugly, etc. compared to her, and those people probably still do. I actually refrained from using social media for about three days (I think) this week to allow myself to think about Essena's situation and it was actually very refreshing. Now I'm back to checking my phone every hour or so, but at least I think critically when scrolling through people's "perfect" feeds and seemingly ideal lives. At least now I know that those are just pictures and that they don't, by any means, make my life less worthy, or my body less pretty. I don't know... thank you for sharing your thoughts, though... It's really interesting to hear different perspectives on this whole story.

  10. Hi there Marianne,
    Thanks a lot for taking the time to leave such a long comment. I first of all want to state that I never meant to blame Essena in any way - this post wasn't meant to be a rant against her, I just wanted to show the more positive side of social media because the term has acquired a negative connotation over the past few days.

    I can imagine that it must be very exhausting to be pressured by social media so much as well and I can't possibly imagine what that must feel like. However, like I also mentioned in the comments I left Isa (darjeelingtealeaves): I wasn't trying to put Essena in a negative daylight in any way. I just wanted to show that social media can be inspiring and interesting as well. I also respect that she gave up such a huge and, for her, bad part of her life, only the way she is solving her current financial struggles (by asking others for donations) is something I do not completely understand.

    You're making some very good points and I'm not against the things you said. It's just that I was trying to focus on something else, on the positive side of social media with my post.

  11. I think everyone's experience with social media is different, and to be honest I think it's what you make it. You can choose to endorse companies you don't believe in and do things that way, or you can post creative pictures you're really proud of, interact with like minded others and just generally use things like Instagram as a creative outlet- that's what I do!


  12. This is the best thing I've read on the situation - like of course social media isn't real? But what you post is up to you, she literally could have started posting more genuine pictures like you said instead of this massive 'revolution'. Social media is what you make it, I don't think its a bad thing at all!

    Lucy | www.foreverseptemberr.blogspot.co.uk

  13. I totally agree! I love going on Instagram and I don't really see why she's made such a fuss about it all :') If she was unhappy about how fake it all seemed, be more genuine then :) xx

  14. Totally agree with what you had to say, social media is what we make of it. Of course social media isn't all real, what media really is? I am kinda disappointed she deleted her page, like you said she could have used to promote positivity and for good.

    Zeynab x
    The Beauty Load