Is Instagram more of a complete sham?

Australian teen blogger, Essena O’Neill, recently abandoned her 612,000 followers on Instagram to expose the reality of the app.

She declared Instagram to be “contrived perfection to get attention” and deleted over 2,000 posts – which she confessed were solely for “self-promotion”.

O’Neill edited the captions of her remaining 96 posts to expose her true motivation for taking them. She wanted to get praised for her appearance, to sell products that she didn’t believe in, and to express this glamorised version of her life, which she now admits was fabricated.

“I would just spend hours looking at everyone else’s perfect lives and I strived to make mine look just as good. I guess I succeeded”, she wrote on her website.

“It’s totally stupid but everyone is doing it. And I know you didn’t come into this world just wanting to fit in and get by.”

Since deleting her account, she has started her own website,, to promote veganism, plant-based nutrition, environmental awareness, social issues, gender equality and controversial art.

The truth is, Instagram can be used to misrepresent reality and to show a more affluent and materialistic lifestyle than the one you’re actually living. The app itself can be superficial, depending on how you’re using it. However, I do think that there are two sides to the app, and Instagram can be used with integrity to create an honest timeline of your life.

Instagram is for all the pictures that you wouldn’t post on Facebook, because realistically, nobody really cares what Starbucks drink you’ve ordered. But users can take the craze too far and do anything for a few likes.

Some people heavily rely on how many likes they’re receiving for a confidence boost. They seek validation in their “selfies”, and the amount of likes they get on their posts will fluctuate their self-esteem.

“Everyone is doing it. We just keep putting up staged photos in desperate hope that others will approve. I have a lot to learn, but I am enough. I am already everything I want to be and it lives inside of me, not on a screen,” O’Neill concluded.

Instagram users show what they want to glorify and what they want people to see. Instagram has a superficial reputation that does affect young people. When we follow these models, photographers, musicians and make-up artists, we see “their world”.  But what people need to realise is that in reality, we don’t see them when they’re not looking “on point” and under the cover of digital filters.

This depiction that Instagram has created leads to far too many expectations and comparisons about the life you’re not living, rather than the one you are. We all need to remember that not everything that appears to be real is authentic on social media.

Conor Martin

Image Credit:@essenaoneill on Instagram

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