While some social media stars strive for an abundance of likes and retweets to feel better about themselves, often times social media makes life more complicated for those same people.
In 2012, Liam Martin started an Instagram account where he later would post pictures of himself dressed in drag as some of the world’s most popular celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and so many more. He enjoyed pushing his boundaries, posting photos in which he would use food as props were his favorite. “One time I dressed up as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, people loved it and were very receptive of their interest to see more! I endeavored into the world of drag, in a more fun and humorous light- recreating celebrity photo shoots on a shoestring budget.” Martin was only 17 when his account reached its million followers mark, sufficive to say that the reaction that he was getting was shocking. He answered humbly, “Having an account with a following of half the population of my country was very unnatural,” when I asked what his first reaction was when he saw how much attention his photos were getting.
The popular account, which now has 1.4 million followers, brought along many opportunities, including a feature of Liam in Playboy. With all of the recognition he was getting, to him the most important thing was that he was making people smile.
With the amount of followers that his account had, he had access to many people worldwide. “You would think that having an account with access to so many different people from all around the world would provide a sense of connection, but at times I felt very alone with what I had and the pathway that I was on, I felt very misunderstood by those around me.” Understandably, many teens have this problem of feeling alone online even if they have followers that may be praising them.
In July 2015, many of his dedicated followers noticed that his posts were becoming fewer and fewer. Liam found himself at a low point in his life. With no home and being mentally unwell, he had exhausted himself with trying to maintain the online dream world while it his real world was falling apart. Being on social media and cross dressing seemed to spark anger in many people, and their harsh comments only furthering his insecurities. “I just think having what I had online amplified that for me at times (insecurities), and I would often be very anxious.” He decided to step back for a while to focus on his mental health. “Leaving something that had become such a big part of my life definitely was an incredibly hard decision and I suffered for a long time feeling as if I had let people down.”
Recently, he’s made a reappearance on Instagram, and it seems that he is doing better than ever. Currently in Canada enjoying some time away from home, he is taking in the new surroundings. During his time away from his online fame, he focused on bettering himself. He felt as though when he was online he was only focusing on other’s happiness and expanding his audience while struggling to maintain happiness within himself. “I really learned the importance of self confidence and self love while I was away.” He said, “I learned to appreciate the little things in life, the intimate and physical connections shared with those whom we regard close.” For a while, he was afraid to come back online because he was worried that he had let his fans down. While being absent, he has focused on growing more confident and keeping a group of friends, whose opinions are important to him, closer than the comments he is faced with online.
“To anyone who is struggling, I just want to remind them that they are a piece of treasure in this rocky world. They may feel as if they have fallen between the cracks and offer no value to the world. There will be a day when they will feel like absolute treasures again, it’s a slow healing process within your mind. Never place a time frame on that and never become discouraged if you fall back into your depression. Know that you still have the most beautiful day of your life to experience, and try to remind yourself of the small delicacies of the word.”
Now, Liam is on to bigger and better things. He is currently writing a book and trying to push himself creatively so that he never limits himself in what he can do. His overall message is to learn to never suppress emotions. He hopes to use what he has been through to help others that may be going through something similar. He wants to make sure that no one feels the way he did at certain points in his life.
While having many followers on social media accounts may be “cool” and make someone “popular”, everyone should strive to remember that no number determines a person’s self worth.