At the moment there is a lot going on on social media about social media itself because of a girl named Essena O’Neill. In case you have never heard of her: She is a really famous girl on Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube etc. and.. she quit. She quit social media because she says it is all fake and it was not good for her because she only lived through screens, didn’t know who she really was, was constantly comparing herself to others and needed social appreciation. But I don’t want to go deeper into what she says and into judging her decision as it’s her life, I don’t know her and she has to do what she thinks is right for her. If you are interested in it anyway, just check out her Youtube, Instagram or her website.
What I want to talk about is: Do I agree? Do I think social media is bad and unhealthy for you?
To begin with: I don’t think that social media is only good or only bad. It can be both and it depends on how you use it.
There are things that I definitely agree are not healthy. It is true that many people spend a lot of time in front of screens instead of connecting with people in the „real“ world and to go out in nature. There is a danger to become really caught up in it all and to get lonely and live only for followers and likes. I also can’t speak myself free from staring at the screen quite a lot especially when I have a lot of freetime. Some days I just scroll mindlessly through my Instagram feed, it can be such a distraction and it is definitely not healthy if you overdo it. Just looking at what others do will not help you grow as a person and to get where you want to be in life. It is great to get inspiration from people but you should not forget to be creative yourself, to go out into the world and to be social, to experience things, to explore.
And yes, often we try to make things look prettier on our photos than they are in reality. Especially with women posting photos of their beautiful and „perfect“ bodies and lives can have a dangerous influence on young people in particular. I guess it can lead to depression, eating disorders and all those mental issues when people always strive to be like someone else and are envious of someone else’s life. And I think we all have those moments when we look at a photo and just think „Damn, she just has it all, my life sucks, why can’t I experience all of this,..“ Right? At least I can’t deny I get those thoughts sometimes, especially when I struggle with my life and feel unhappy. I think it’s just natural and also happens in real life, not just on social media.
On the other hand: Is it really that bad to post beautiful photos? I myself consider beautiful photos as a kind of art and I enjoy looking at them. I think it’s only bad when you become obsessive about it and when you don’t realise that beautiful photos are probably edited a lot and are intended to get lots of likes. When you can’t even take a photo of you with no make-up or if you are too afraid to meet people in real life because they see how „imperfect“ you are in reality. But taking photos and editing them to look better is not a problem to me. Like I said, I consider beautiful photos as art and as a way to express ourselves. I also think you have to be quite a little naive if you think everything people post is real. Especially those people that have thousands and thousands of followers. To me it is logical they get paid by companies for a lot of their photos. But does this mean they can’t be seen as artistic?
Which leads me to the next point.. expressing yourself. It is such an easy and effective way to use social media for spreading a positive message, to talk about what’s important to you. If it wasn’t for social media, I guess I would not be vegan today. All those vegans out there sharing their experiences and thoughts just had such a huge influence on me and I am so grateful for this. Now I also do my best to contribute to sharing the vegan message, to talk about the truth so that more and more people learn about veganism and how to make this world a better place. Where else can „small people“ like me do this? Yes, I could talk to people around me, but who will listen? It’s so much more easy for people to watch a video or read a blog article when they really want to do it themselves. Many people don’t want to „get taught“ by others and prefer to educate themselves alone when they are ready. You can also reach so much more people through social media at once than you can outside of it.
Social media also doesn’t mean you are not connecting with people anymore. It’s called social media and you can connect with many like-minded people there. For example: I don’t have any vegans around me in my everyday life so it is great for me to talk with others on social media that have the same interests and values as me and to not feel alone in this. It also really helps me to not lose hope to see there are other people caring about the animals and the planet just like I do. Connecting through social media also doesn’t mean you can’t make real life connections. I just met a girl last weekend who I’d know for some time through social media and I also met some more people at a vegan event near to where I live. I would have never known about these people living just around the corner if it wasn’t for social media and I am so grateful for this. Using all those platforms does not mean you have to stay in your room all alone posting photos and talking to people only through your phone. You have to be open to actually meet people though and to not be afraid of it because you are so caught up in this idea that you have to be perfect all the time just because maybe your profile online only shows you as perfect looking in edited photos.
Long story short: I think social media is a great tool to connect with other like-minded people, also in real life, and to have a positive influence on other people to change this world for the better. We should just use it carefully though and always question things we watch and read on social media, especially if it comes from people that have a huge following. Never stop thinking yourself and having your own opinion. We should also not forget to live our lives outside of social media, to enjoy nature and being with people in real life. And we should make sure to not get caught up in this idea of the „perfect“ life and to lose ourselves in jealousy and self-hate. If you really feel like social media is consuming you and you do not know how to live in real life anymore like Essena did, yes, then I think you should consider taking a break because they you probably have a serious addiction to it and I’m sure it will help just to get rid of everything that has to do with social media for a while.