Ethos and Instagram: Essena O’Neil
Posted by johnsons0566
This week’s post touches on ethos, or identity, image or credibility of an author. Ethos can be used to persuade, relate impressions and convey notions about one’s character. This especially is true in online contexts where it is what we rely upon to communicate our sense of self with others.
In light of the major news story this week I think ethos is an important topic to touch on. For those of you who haven’t heard, Essena O’Neil, a social media starlet from Australia with over 800,000 Instagram followers and 270,000 on You Tube is calling it quits and leaving it all behind. This provides a relevant opportunity to examine social media, ethos and the implications it can have. While she looked like she was at the pinnacle of success, her job of being on social media and the ethos she created was consuming her life.
In an online confessional video explaining why she decided to quite social media O’Neil states,“my whole idea of self worth revolved around my appearance and my social media status. Basically, my self worth relied on social approval.” Everything she did- from the food she ate to the clothes she wore to the exercises she did- was to prove herself online and keep up her credibility as a”perfect person”. Because she created an image of herself that others feel that is unattainable, her success hinged on lies, followers, views and likes. One article even said, “The most authentic girl on Instagram is made of plastic.”
Some may say she is selfish, others may say she is selfless. Is it all a hoax- using social media to criticize social media to become popular on social media?
On Friday we had a slow day at the office, and my coworkers and I spent the better part of yesterday discussing this story. Interestingly, that the group I was discussing this issue with was all female, ranging in age from 23 to 48. While the eldest in our group applauded her efforts to be real, the youngsters of the bunch shot holes in her argument. Below you can find some of the points our conversation brought up:
- Quitting to get back to a more natural way of existing and reassessing things in her life.
- She was encouraged and rewarded with hundreds of thousands of followers, money, contracts, and fame. If she was uncomfortable with it, it is her decisions. Let it go.
- We shouldn’t feel we have to do anything to be up to someone else’s standards.
- Now she can develop her new audience and approach with her new website and use Social Media differently.
- She can use her tremendously positive force and use her frame to rebrand herself into the way she wants to be.
- Ditching all expectations and pressure is awesome.
- Ironic that she “got what she wanted” but then bashes it for being fake.
- The reason that she is blaming social media is your classic burn out story. She finally realized that relying on her looks will be unsustainable, so she is cashing out while she is on top.
- What’s wrong with showing a photo or wearing yourself made up?
- Fame doesn’t equate to happiness.
- Just because she views likes and views as validation don’t necessarily mean that everyone is that way. Generalizing they way that people view social media and lumping it together is not true. THE ONLY way she can spread her message is through social media.
- No one talking about social media is trying to deceive you.
- Its a reflection of her in choosing to wear or promote certain brands.
- While her comments certainly make sense in her situation, can they apply to the average Instagrammer in the same way?
What I gathered from her post and confessional like videos is that she wants to be more transparent and honest and not do sponsored or extremely posed shots. While I’m not sure her intentions for quitting are 100% pure, this highlights a few important issues. O’Neil’s story opens a conversation not just about this case, but rather as our use os social media as a whole. The ethos she created is an illusion, yet her essence is so much more. She felt as if her numbers were overshadowing the content- her creativity, her personality, her intellect- the person she is. Social media isn’t the problem, but its how people use it that are the problem. It is how people are comparing themselves to these fake ethos, instead of just letting it motivate them. Particularly, the normality of image obsession, especially with younger girls is concerning. O’Neil’s story is especially important because she grew up with social media and belongs to a generation that did so as well.
Perhaps its time for all of us to take a social media break…
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