Behind The Image: Effortless — Essena O’Neill

I love this piece by Essena O’Neill. She was an Instagram star, but you can see her here saying she is giving it all up. In a teary goodbye she says that she no longer knows what is real because she has let herself be defined by what is not real. [Pause].

I raise her issue during #digiwrimo because I am also worried about how social media really isn’t real. I try to be a Stoic about this. I have no control over what others like, heart, star or otherwise notice. As I have always tried to think, “No skin off my potato if nobody notices.” I think these Stoic efforts are bearing fruit and making my work more intrinsically valuable, but I still feel isolated in my digital life. Sometimes I try too hard to connect and these redoubled efforts to connect also can create isolation in my ‘other’ life.

One part in particular that I value in Essena O’Neill’s protest was that before she gave up her Instagram account she began to tell the backstory of ‘faux’ flawless glamor she had posted on her Instagram account. Here is a video where she describes the painful effort that went into one shot of perfection.

As a composition instructor, I have considered how discouraging it must be for the learners in my classrooms to be shown only the very best writing on the planet. I thought about how often the digital objects we create are the end result of intense careful work that belies the ugly struggle that goes on underneath the pretty picture we try to portray. I have begun a series of blog posts for #digiwrimo, Digital Writing Month, on annotation and annotation tools. I appear to know my stuff, but the real story is that behind the picture I am showing you there is an ocean of failure and pain and stupid and waste. All you see is the evolved state and not the years of screaming that went into that becoming. And even then I am not saying this is all that good.

But I do think that any level of skill beyond the most rudimentary is like this–an evolution of practice and theory and discipline that goes relatively unseen. I want you to see just like Essena helped us see. What follows is a pulling aside of the curtain, a raw one-take video that tries to do what Essena did: talk about what goes on behind the scenes that we try to hide. I have always heard it said in tradesfolk circles that you can judge the quality of carpenters by how well they can hide their mistakes. And there are many mistakes.

P.S. Not to say I know what I am doing, but the raw video above was recorded using the new version of Screencast-O-Matic. I feel this is a fully developed cloud tool now and I will likely have a post for #digiwrimo on using it as a really worthwhile annotation device.

P.P.S. And if you want to carry on the conversation about the annotation above join me here on Vialogues.