Earlier this week, Instagram influencer Essena O'Neill made the decision to quit social media because she felt that it was disrupting her life. She erased over 2,000 photos and changed the captions to many others to show the truth behind her "perfect" pictures. O'Neill has since deleted her Instagram account, but the world has become entranced by this story, applauding O'Neill for her decision. However, not everyone is in total agreement. Vine star Lauren Giraldo, who has over 4.4 million social media followers of her own, wrote an open letter to O'Neill posted on Cosmopolitan's website where she points out that it's the responsibility of social media stars to be genuine, rather than blaming social media for being fake.
Giraldo makes the case that O'Neill can't effectively blame social media, brands or her fans for forcing her into portraying her life as perfect, because at the end of the day, O'Neill is the one with the power to influence how her life was seen on social media — it's up to her to be genuine and honest about her flaws if that's what she wants the world to see. She can't be mad at people for not accepting her real life if she never showed it to them in the first place, according to Giraldo.
"It's unfair for you to shame social media for being fake, and being a lie. Sometimes I wear dresses and I post a picture to Instagram and tag the brand without ever being paid to wear them, I just like them and want my followers to know that. We all have access to the same apps, websites, blogs, etc, it's up to us to be as genuine (or not) as we choose. It's what we do with these apps that defines our authenticity," Giraldo wrote in her open letter posted on Cosmopolitan.
Giraldo points out that this letter isn't just for O'Neill or other people who are social media famous. She is writing this letter to everyone (although influencers will probably have a better understanding of the pressure to keep fans entertained more so that the average user), encouraging all of us to use social media in a way that makes us happy.
"Social media praise might have once been the key to your happiness, but that's not what being a influencer is about for everyone. For me, it's doing a job that I love and I am obsessed with. Social media gives me the opportunity to be creative, to make people laugh, and have my voice heard."
I think the most important thing to take away from both O'Neill's decision to quit social media and Giraldo's open letter is that everyone needs to be more conscious about not only what others are posting on social media, but what you post on social media yourself. And if you're not Instagram famous, your family and friends are probably not going to judge you if you post a less-than-perfect picture. My takeaway? Everyone chill a bit. It's just social media after all.
You can read Giraldo's full letter to O'Neill on Cosmopolitan.com.
Image: Essena O'Neill/Vimeo