Last week there were many online posts about Essena O’Neill popping up throughout our online social media forums and everyone had something to say about it! I know I did!

In case you missed it:

Essena O’Neill a very young online influencer decided to quit the online game! Now some of you may be thinking “Yeah, but what’s the big deal? People go off-line all the time!”. Well Essena created major headlines, as her followers range from hundreds of thousands, and what she had to say about why she was quitting the online game caused many to question themselves. Essena deleted nearly 2000 of her Instagram images, and then edited the captions of her pictures with the real subtext of what she was really feeling, experiencing in the pictures. This action alone created a major online stir!

I’m quitting Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr for good. Deleted over 2000 photos here today that served no real purpose other than self-promotion. Without realising, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance. Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. – Essena O’Neill. 

At first everyone was supporting this young girl for sharing her revelations on how social media had consumed her in a negative way, and how she now wants to encourage younger people to live a more present and healthier lifestyle. A few days later, others started attacking Essena saying it was all a publicity stunt to grow her followers, and increase her fame status. Whatever your opinion may be on Essena O’Neill, one thing we can all agree on is that she caused us to reflect and think about how we are utilizing online media.

know for me, it caused me to stop and reflect on the following :

ONLINE BULLYING

We live in a world today, where we want to support others happiness, but with a lot of skepticism. “Essena is doing such great thing for young people, but she should have known better!” From negative opinions on others life choices, to those that make their angst known online very loudly and very clearly, end up becoming online bullies. 

Now, obviously we are all humans, and we have our own opinions and thoughts that resonate with who we are and what we believe. However I find it very sad, when others go out of their way to attack others online saying hurtful things that are just plain ridiculous. I often wonder if people would say those things in person, or if they hide behind being loud and rude online. Sometimes people react negatively or defensively to things, if poked at a sensitive spot within a person. Then they retaliate, get defensive and verbally attack others as a means of feeling better about themselves.

I think we need to start being aware of online bullies, and maybe check in with ourselves to make sure that we aren’t becoming online bullies!

WE HAVE A CHOICE

I believe we have a choice on how we choose to interact with social media. We have the power to choose what we show online, to how we utilize our social media. Social media does not control us, and it should not leave us feeling bad about ourselves in any way! Maybe social media works for you, and you don’t let it consume you, because you have healthy boundaries in place! Maybe for some of you social media has a negative impact on your life, then maybe it is time to cut it out of your life for a while. We have a choice when it comes to our happiness and well-being, therefore choose wisely regarding this area of your life.

RAISING HEALTHY CHILDREN

As a mom I want my children to grow up always knowing their worth. I never want them to find themselves and their identity in other people’s opinions, to the things that they do, to what apps may exist in the future. Essena O’Neill speaks openly about how as a teenager she found herself lost and absorbed in finding her identity in online media.

As parents we will need wisdom when it comes to raising our children in a very progressively growing tech age. We need to be committed to showing our children healthy values that will shape their identity. We can teach them to be present, to play outdoors, to read books that grow their imaginations, to making quality time for them and having meaningful conversations that help validate them. Our children will need to have a greater understanding of who they are before stepping into the social media world, and most importantly they need to be age appropriate!

ONLINE AFFIRMATION

Essena O’Neill speaks very openly about how she would compare herself with others online. She even went on to say how she was  completely consumed with social media, from checking her newsfeed for hours, to the taking and posing for perfect pictures for her social media platforms would literally take hours.

All of it left her feeling very empty, because the truth of it all is that we can’t find wholeness, and happiness via online affirmation. It doesn’t matter how many likes your pictures receive, to how many followers you may have. Those things will never make you happy long-term. The truth is people/followers should not be validating who we are.

We should know our self-worth, and value, by understanding who we have been created to be, by getting to know the one who created us. If having a relationship with God seems unfamiliar to you, then may I encourage you to click on the link below.

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