Vegan Vlogger Essena O’Neill is making headlines around the globe. The 19-year-old Australian YouTuber-turned-fashion model claimed in her last tearful video rant that she is quitting social media because of the pressure to produce the perfect photograph on Instagram.
The photos apparently had taken hours and hours and hundreds of takes in order to get the “right one.” The end result, she claimed, is nothing but a false image. She found herself obsessed with counting likes and views in order to measure her self-worth.
Essena having retired her social media accounts under stress and pressure to produce perfect photographs is one thing. Quitting social media because those images are a false depiction of herself is quite another. (She recently signed with IMG Models.)
Photography, or modeling, like any art, including writing, music or acting, that is geared towards public consumption must be revised or rehearsed dozens, sometimes hundreds of times, before the finished piece is perfected to present to the public.
The result comes from diligence in order to hone in on a vision that cannot be produced overnight. In the end, can we call a novel, an album, a painting or a film a false image? Maybe. Outtakes and rough drafts are sometimes the most intriguing part of the art, but would anyone buy it?
To say she had undergone posing for hundreds of takes to get the right shot makes one wonder—what is the right shot when art is subjective? Something that can sell? But isn’t what sells and makes money subjective, too? It is simple. We call it supply and demand.
Although I appreciate the be-true-to-yourself argument, she was not the artist in her case, she was the photographer and the fashion industry’s tool. From her perspective, I can understand why she became disenchanted with social media’s “game.”
As a writer, social media is a large part of my life. It can be used positively to promote your work. Are the number of followers and views important? Yes and no. Not to measure self-worth, I’ve been writing and publishing before I used social media, but because most book publishers or agents want to see how active a writer is in promoting themselves and how much of a following they have. It is a business like anything else.
In 2015, it is not shameful to use social networking for promotional purposes. It can be beneficial to every business or cause in every walk of life. It spreads awareness to issues most people were never privy to before the internet.
The artists and businesses who I have seen establish themselves and become successful range from novices, who put every ounce of their energy into their craft in order to be heard, who would not have had a chance otherwise in a fiercely competitive world, to well-known public entities.
While Essena has “quit” social media, her Instagram account is still intact and she had created a website. Its motto: Let’s be game changers. She is asking the public for money.
Pardon me, Essena, but I will not jump on board. Because having a passion that drives me to create art is not a game to me.
According to recent reports—who’s playing the game? Does “False Revolutionary” sound familiar?