By now you’ve probably heard the story of Essena O’Neill, who made headlines after very publicly ‘outing’ herself as having been paid for numerous posts to Instagram, Youtube and other sites. After building up a base of over half a million followers on Instagram – a dream for many Instagrammers young and old – she has now left it all behind.
Essena’s story touched a nerve for many. Even for those of us who are much older, much less attractive and much less likely to attract the attention of potential sponsors, there is something alluring about being ‘liked’ on social media. I count my own Instagram following in the tens rather than thousands, but I still enjoy it when a picture I post gets noticed. I also can’t help but feel a little miffed when another photographer posts what I think is a mediocre image and it is ‘liked’ by hundreds or even thousands.
The problem with all this is that we (by which I mean those of us who have a blog or post to social media sites) have started to equate the level of attention we manage to garner as an end in itself. When – as Essena obviously worked out – it simply isn’t.