Famed Instagram egg reveals feel-good message

Cracking: This photo has over 52,000,000 likes on Instagram — more than any other post ever.

After much speculation, the most famous egg in the world has cracked open, revealing a message supporting those suffering from mental illness. But can the campaign make a real difference?

It all started with a picture of an egg (called Eugene).

Posted to Instagram last month, it had one goal: become the most liked Instagram post ever. Fifty-two million likes later, and that record has been utterly smashed. Kylie Jenner previously held the record with 19 million likes.

But there was more. In subsequent posts, cracks started to appear in the egg, sending an army of followers, journalists and pundits into a frenzy of speculation. What could this mean? Could something be breaking out of the egg? The attention of millions had been captured.

Some guessed that those behind the post were gearing up a marketing campaign to exploit the egg’s huge viral following (potentially worth $10 million according to one writer).

One advertising agency wanted to use the egg to launch an anti-Trump campaign. According to their plans, the president would burst out and do the chicken dance alongside the tagline “Impeach Donald Trump”.

When the egg finally cracked open in a short video on Sunday night, it took many people by surprise. No political slogans, no brands, no big-money adverts; just a simple message raising awareness of mental illness.

“The pressure of social media is getting to me,” the egg says as it breaks into several pieces. “If you’re struggling too, talk to someone. We got this.” It then provides a link to a website connecting people with mental health services.

“An egg has no gender, race or religion. An egg is an egg, it’s universal,” explained the egg’s creator Chris Godfrey. “Eugene the egg wants to continue to spread positive messages,” added Alissa Khan-Whelan, who worked on the campaign.

Its message has certainly come at the right time.

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week, and social media companies are under renewed pressure to tackle the mental health crisis among young people.

For example, some have linked the tragic suicide of Molly Russell to the graphic images of self-harm and suicide she was repeatedly exposed to on Instagram. And just yesterday, a shock poll found that 18% of young people in the UK do not think life is worth living.

Will Eugene the egg make a difference?

Scrambled

Some are optimistic. The egg’s creators could have cashed in on any old advertising campaign; instead, they chose to spread an uplifting message around the world. Could this inspire other brands to become more caring? What impact will this have on our society?

Still, there is an irony to all this. The egg only became famous thanks to Instagram — yet it is social media platforms like Instagram that many feel are fuelling the mental health crisis among Britain’s teenagers. Can we really blame these websites? If so, is the answer to get off social media altogether?

You Decide

  1. Are you inspired by the message of the egg?
  2. Is social media to blame for mental health issues among the young?

Activities

  1. Watch the #talkingegg advert by following the first link in Become An Expert. Do you think its message is effective? Why/why not? Discuss in pairs or small groups and report back to the class.
  2. Do some research on the state of young people’s mental health in Britain. Use the links as a start and try to find as much statistical evidence as you can. Based on your research, come up with three ways that the mental health crisis can be tackled.

Some People Say...

“A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support.”

Kate Middleton

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The egg’s Instagram account has already sold merchandise, donating 10% of the proceeds to three charities: YoungMinds, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Campaign Against Living Miserably. Chris Godfrey claims that the viral attention the egg received grew in an unpredictable and “completely organic” way.
What do we not know?
It is unclear whether the egg’s mental health message was the intention from the beginning. It could be that the egg started as an exercise in viral social media that was later turned into a campaign. We also do not know where the campaign will go next. Its creators would not comment on other causes they may support, saying that they will take each day as it comes.

Word Watch

Record
Kylie Jenner’s photo showed her holding the hand of her newborn daughter, Stormi.
Pundits
Experts in particular subjects who are asked the give their opinion on topical issues.
Impeach
The process by which Donald Trump could be removed from office. In order for this to happen, impeachment would have to be voted through by the House and the Senate — something which has never happened.
Video
Watch it for yourself by following the link in Become An Expert. It was released on Hulu shortly after the Super Bowl.
Universal
Can be applied in all situations around the world and understood by everybody.
Molly Russell
Read about her story by following the link in Become An Expert. Instagram has responded to her death by developing a safety measure called “sensitivity screens”.
18%
According to a poll by YouGov.

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