As an avid YouTube watcher and social media user, I am fully immersed in the obsessions, trends and other, for lack of a better word, things that go along with the social media culture. In the recent month or so, shit has hit the fan amongst some of the most popular YouTube/ social media “stars.” Beauty mogul, YouTube sensation, and social media star Essena O’Neil quit social media. WHAT?! QUIT?! HOW!? As an 18 year old, social media obsessed girl, this hit me like a ton of bricks. At first I respected her decision, unknowing of why she did this. A few weeks ago Essena uploaded her last ever video onto her YouTube. The video was 17 or so minutes of her discussing why she decided to do this. I sat in awe of how ridiculous and dramatic she sounded, and trust me I wasn’t the only one.
Learning that Essena was unhappy with how “fake” social media and everyone on it was, she decided it was no longer something she wanted to be involved in. Hey girl, you do you, but don’t accuse everyone of being fake, and group social media users together and speak for us. She admitted to using apps to slim down her body, or adding filter after filter to make herself appear better so that she would receive more likes.
While this is honorable of her to admit, she is case in point admitting to being fake, and she had the choice not to be. Also, she admits to promoting and advertising for companies whom she didn’t like the product of just for the money, again this isn’t social media being fake, this is the user behind it being fake. Essena is Australian, and over the summer of 2015 she lived in LA with a YouTube famous family. After watching her video, I saw on the side bar for a video of two of my favorite YouTubers Nina and Randa had posted a video saying that Essena quitting social media is a hoax.
Nina and Randa are the daughters of father Jeff Nelson, otherwise known and VegSource on YouTube. These are the people in the family that Essena stayed with during her time in LA. Jeff made an incredible breakdown of Essena’s video proving that even her motives for quitting social media were fake.
All of this brought about lots of tension in the YouTube and social media community for those whom make their money off of being YouTube and social media famous. Jonah Green a 20 year old YouTuber who is present on many social media platforms looked at Essena’s ideas as a way to express what YouTube and social media have done for him, and what a genuine experience he has on all of these platforms. He created a YouTube challenge called The Stripped Down Challenge, where you sit in front of the camera for 10 full minutes, no cuts, not editing, no music and no script and just talk. How much more real does it get? He tagged many other YouTubers to try and do this challenge to show that there is much more to these platforms than the filters and edits. The challenge has been a huge success and many extremely popular YouTubers have done the challenge and shown how genuine their experiences are.
So, remember what Marshall McCluhan said about the medium being the message, and decide for yourself what kind of poster you are going to be on social media, because the app or website itself isn’t fake, but the person posting may be.