Sarah Z. Wexler
HOW many Hours have you spent waiting for people to Like your Instas or watch your Snaps? For Essena O’neill, an 18-year-old Instagram model with more than a half million followers, it was too many. Last fall, she made headlines for deleting thousands of photos, quitting the social platform, and sharing her struggle with being “addicted to social media, social approval, [and] social status.” She made an appeal for a platform where views and Likes aren’t visible. “Never again will I let a number define me. It suffocated me,” she said.
Others could totally relate. In March, Time magazine named her among the 30 most influential people on the internet, alongside the likes of Kim and Kanye, for having in fact removed her social presence (she’s since returned to Instagram, where her posts are perfectly frank: “There is nothing Zen about trying to look Zen…” and “I was paid for this photo”).i wouldn’t say checking my Likes tally has “suffocated me,” but it has messed with my mind. A few months ago, I spent an idyllic day with my dog at the beach where I ’grammed a pic of him running at sunset, fully expecting a slew of Likes and “YAAASSS” comments.
Instead, I got crickets—a measly four Likes, one of them from my dog walker. I cycled through the stages of grief. Denial: It’s because I posted it during happy hour! Anger: What’s wrong with my jerk friends? I Like thousands of their pics! Depression: Maybe these photos— maybe this whole day—weren’t as amazing as I’d thought. Thankfully, then came acceptance: Whatever. This day was awesome, Likes or not. The thing is, many women fixate on the negative feelings and can’t convince themselves of that last Cosmopolitan october 2016