Sometimes it’s a little difficult to distinguish the blurry lines between social media starlets and real life – I know I’ve fallen for it quite a bit! But I do think there is a happy medium no-one is talking about…
First, I’ve just got to say – I love writing these personal posts! I’m hoping to get my camera out again soon and start ‘vlogging’ to give you a glimpse into my reality, but for now it’s in the form of a post. And I suppose that’s part of the problem really – you can’t see me tucked up in my pyjamas just gone eight o’clock (because I’m that cool) with a messy bun and a stack of washing up to do, but that’s where I am right now. And I’m writing to tell you that the commotion that Essena O’Neill has caused from her drastic change from Instagram beauty to complete realist is actually awesome, but I think it’s being twisted a little from my perspective and that a mindful approach to any kind of platform is best.
To anyone who hasn’t read her story, essentially she has blown the lid on social media being used as a business, with popular accounts accepting product placements, alongside photo editing and tweaking to create fake lives that the majority of users aspire to, or even compare their lives to and feel jealous, upset, and sad because their lives aren’t as ‘perfect’.
Strangely enough, I’d been enjoying Essena’s channel recently so it was a bit surreal to see her face in the most popular posts on the Guardian yesterday. The latest video I had watched was about her deleting her Instagram photos and writing candid captions that explain the way a photographer would make her look good during meditation, or she would pose in a certain way with a product she had been paid thousands of dollars to promote to her followers. Equally saddening is that she’s become a victim of this situation too, and is only now realising that self-acceptance and love can’t come from a follower counter.
So I thought as someone who is quite active online, both on Curiously Conscious and across social media, that to a certain extent she’s right – but there is a positive way to use social networks too. From my personal experience, I’ve been both the end-user, looking at beautiful girls posing in twisted yoga positions and feeling guilty for sitting on a sofa scrolling through those photos, but I’m now too starting to understand the responsibility that having a presence online has.
For me, social media is very much a sharing tool – and yes, it’s super easy to get bogged down in the numbers, and yes, I do like seeing new follower notifications like anyone else does. But really what I believe it means is that I’ve inspired someone to want to see or read more of the content I’m creating – whether it be healthy recipes, natural beauty reviews, or something else that has positively affected my life – hence why Curiously Conscious exists in the first place.
And while it may be a sad truth when I say that not everything in my life is as pristine as my white-white-white Instagram feed, did you really expect that it was? The reason I didn’t blog last Friday? I was out with a friend, and sometimes you’ve got to put down your tech and really enjoy yourself. My new hair colour? Yes, it’s out of a box – and no, it’s not good for my hair or the environment, but I really can’t afford a cut and soy dye for £150 right now, as much as I would love to do that and feature it on here.
As with the mindful approach to life, there’s always a happy medium, and a positive way to use the tools we have been lucky enough to have in front of us. For me, that’s the desire to blog, research, and go out into the world looking for clean and green things that excite me and probably do you too! But there also has to be that balance – my boyfriend and I were recently discussing how computers are almost like a fascinating second-brain, so it’s easy to see how people can get caught up in an online life rather than a real one.
The other side of the coin is that as a content creator, I do have dicey choices to make in terms of funding my blog. If the day ever comes around where I can support myself through income on my blog, I would jump for joy – just as a writer would on publishing their book, or an artist on selling their paintings. Monetising for the sake of money doesn’t make a good blog though, and I’m very very selective with what I feature on here, ensuring anything I do write about is something I myself would want to read about as a follower of other like-minded blogs. I also aim to be as transparent as possible, with a disclaimer, asterisk-marked PR samples, and sponsored post footers for all to see – despite having been asked to not disclose that information (those ‘marketers’ should really know better).
So in my opinion, while Essena does have a point – self-appreciation is much more about finding a contentedness inside yourself, and within your actions, than your social standing both online or in reality – I actively want to see amazing things from you all! I want to hear about your day and how you smashed it at the gym. I love scrolling through Instagram seeing others achieve yoga positions they never thought they could, or create a delicious healthy recipe for themselves last night. Go out there, speak to others, meet up with friends, and be your own inspiration – while sharing those happy moments and positive finds online for the rest of the world to see and enjoy too. I know that’s what makes me feel best and I really hope positivity can be shared many times over than the negativity that is being focused on in the media right now.