The past couple days have been really interesting for the internet. Over the past two days, two different social media critics have risen up and taken a stand against the "fakeness" that the internet has to offer.
Essena O'Neill decided she had enough with social media. She had been "faking" all of her "candid" photos, sometimes starving herself to look better or taking sponsorships. She then replaced her original captions with the process that went behind each seemingly simplistic photo. She used this move to promote her new cause, "Social Media Is Not Real Life". She then posted an emotional video concerning the new stance, and deleted her Instagram completely.
Here's my problem: The fight against "fakeness" in the way Essena presents it seems really fake in itself. I don't know her, and all I know is what's been reported. I'm behind her message, but her execution seems really poor. In fact, I was not really bothered by it all until I watched the video of her crying, and I saw all I needed to see. Listen for the words "I" and "me" and the references to herself in that video. For someone fighting against the false self-advertising on social media, she refers to herself and continues to focus on herself. She still obviously has that desire to look good, which causes me to ask about her intent in this move. (Which surely increased her following and I'm even drawing attention to her, maybe I shouldn't be) My thoughts keep being confirmed through the more that comes out about the whole thing, and her friends aren't helping her case either.
Social Media critique is rough; you either claim to be a hero for giving it up, or you end up talking about yourself, which is kind of what you're critiquing in the first place.
Today, however, we saw the conclusion to the Socality Barbie saga, which I have talked about before. Darby Cisneros is the mastermind behind this successful project, and has proven to be one of the few successful social media critics as of yet. She revealed the secret of critiquing social media, and I think has gotten the respect of many through how she pulled it off.
Here's her secret: She took herself out of the picture.
She made her stand against the "authenticity" of Instagram using a technique not often seen in the world: She made great, convincing work. Not only that, she removed her identity from the work until she decided it was time to end it. Her photos were impressive; it truly took talent to experiment with scale like she did. Today marked the final stroke of genius with the project, the author of this series revealed her identity, dropped the mic, and ended the project.
Who knows, Darby could end up being on the news and basking in the limelight. I don't know her personally, all I know is, her work was great and her message was received. Essena is leaving a lot of openings for doubt as to the legitimacy of her cause, and there's nothing revolutionary or impressive about what she's done. Because of her focus on herself, and keeping her identity very attached to her "cause", she is opening herself up to all kinds of publicity and more sponsorships. (Again, her own friends seem to doubt her motives as well) Maybe, Darby was taking advantage of spotlight as well, but she made it to this point by stripping away her identity which could be a good indicator of motives.
I probably spent way too much time on this, but it's been eating at me, and I needed something to write about to today. I'm sad to see Barbie go, but I appreciate that she left us wanting more. Maybe quitting social media is the only move against it, since both these women have ejected in a certain way.
It's funny because all of this happened as I've developed a more optimistic stance on social media, as one who bought in the to whole anti-social media thing (of course with no intent on stopping. I've never actually made any socially critical art, I just spout off and talk about it. I'm part of the problem)
The fact is, "social media" is here to stay, and it's such a new thing, that we'll get used to it eventually. We've got a lot of kinks to work out first.