The Darker Side of Social Media

We now live in the age of social media where it seems that people cannot even leave their front door without taking a selfie for Snapchat or Instagram. Indeed, one of the first questions students asked me in my first classes was: “Do you have Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/Facebook” etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, social media is an incredible tool for keeping in touch with friends abroad, letting friends and family know what you are up to or, in the case of the Arab Spring, kick starting a revolution. However, many news outlets picked up on a story this week which highlights the darker side of social media and the effect it can have on young people growing up in the age of the selfie. Essena O’Neill seems like a regular 18 year old but in fact she is one of a growing number of teenagers and young people who are making a living out of social media. Companies would pay her to pose in their clothes or use their products in her Instagram photos that were then shared to her 1m+ followers. However, this kind of lifestyle is incredibly high pressured and Essena has taken the radical step of showing just what goes into the ‘perfect’ Instagram shot. She has changed the captions on many of her photos to describe the process behind taking them. These new captions include “Didn’t eat for 2 days” and “We are a generation obsessed with likes and comments”. You can read about Essena O’Neill’s decision here: http://www.elle.com/culture/news/a31635/essena-oneill-instagram-social-media-is-not-real-life/

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