By now we've all heard about Australian Instagram star Essena O'Neill and how she is quitting Instagram and decrying the pressure that social media puts on individuals to present their lives as unnaturally perfect. In all the hoopla over O'Neill's departure from social, other more important news may have been lost: Socality Barbie has quit Instagram. I know, I'm heartbroken too.
Hey guys, my name is Darby Cisneros and I am the creator of SocalityBarbie. I just wanted to introduce myself and thank all of you for enjoying this account. I started SB as a way to poke fun at all the Instagram trends that I thought were ridiculous. Never in 1 million years did I think it would receive the amount of attention that it did but because of that it has open the door to a lot of great discussions like: how we choose to present ourselves online, the insane lengths many of us go to to create the perfect Instagram life, and calling into question our authenticity and motives. It's been a blast running this account but I believe SB's work here is done. I will be leaving this account open for a while for people still want to look through and enjoy it. Again, thank you for following along. If anyone has any questions or just want to say hi feel free to email me at [email protected] #RIP (account NOT for sale)
A photo posted by Socality Barbie (@socalitybarbie) on Nov 4, 2015 at 10:38am PST
In case you don't know, Socality Barbie was the account of a Portland-based photographer who used a hipsterized Barbie doll to parody the type of people whose Instagram feeds were stuffed with the perfect pictures of adventure and fun that were absolutely festooned with hashtags like #authentic and #rustic and so forth. It was a life that normal people could never achieve, and that Socality Barbie posited, via the posing of a small plastic doll, was just as artificial as any other kind of media. (We've covered her before if you want the full story.)
But now the woman behind Socality Barbie, Darby Cisneros, has come forward to reveal herself, and announce the end of the Socality Barbie Instagram account. Cisneros admits she was utterly surprised by the amount of attention that her little satirical project garnered, going from around 7,000 followers to over a million after it was in outlets such as Wired.
What is interesting is that while Socality Barbie and Essena O'Neill both quit at the same time, and both (at least at present for O'Neill) decry the fronts we put up on social media, the difference between them is that Darby Cisneros was aware of the problem from the beginning. As was Chompoo Baritone, another photographer that presented the extra context in her photos that Instagram pics often lack.
This isn't to criticize O'Neill. One of the unfortunate parts about living our lives on social media is that all the dumb stuff we say and do is preserved for posterity forever. Essena O'Neill is just learning a lot of the things we all learn as we get older. That the things we value change, as does how we wish to present ourselves to the world, on social media and in real life. It's hard to fault a 19-year-old for learning the things 19-year-olds learn. It's best to give the benefit of the doubt here, even if some have strong doubts.
We should appreciate whatever insight we gain about the world, whether it's realizing you aren't the person you want to be and trying to make a change for the better and more substantive, or using your skills as a photographer to point out the strange ways we present ourselves. It's about seeing the world better, and trying to help others do the same. Which is more useful than a million dull Instagram pics could ever be.
So we should really just wish Essena O'Neill good luck in her future endeavors, and move on. And Socality Barbie? You and your #authenticity will be missed.