Essena O’Neill is an 18-year-old Australian who found fame on the Internet, thanks to an extremely popular social media presence.
Her YouTube account had over 250,000 followers, and her Instagram profile had nearly 600,000.
She was so famous online, as a matter of fact, that she was able to earn money, thanks to sponsorships and public appearances.Image Credit: Instagram
Now, she’s given it all up. O’Neill has deactivated much of her social media presence, and severely altered what is left.
Why did she do that?
She posted several videos to explain herself.
Social media had eaten up her life and she didn’t like what she had become:
“Having it all on social media means absolutely nothing to your real life.”
Essena spoke about her decision, which has been transcribed by BuzzFeed:
“I fell in love with this idea that I could be of value to other people.”
“I was severely addicted. I believed how many likes and followers I had correlated to how many people liked me. I didn’t even see it happening, but social media had become my sole identity.”
“16-year-old Essena would have been like ‘WTF girl you have the dream life.'”
“So why did I feel so lost, lonely and miserable?”
In addition to cutting out social media, she’s also gone back and edited most of her Instagram photos, adding information to each one, in an attempt to dispel the myth that social media life is “real life.”Image Credit: Instagram
She has since deleted even those Instagram photos, however.
She’s also produced several Youtube videos, now deleted, on how social media stars operate, and how they gain their wealth:Image Credit: Instagram
In short, nearly every aspect of their lives is sponsored by brands.Image Credit: Instagram
She writes in a deleted Instagram post:
“If you find yourself looking at ‘Instagram girls’ and wishing your life was their’s, realize you only see what they want.”
“If they tag a company, 99% of the time it’s paid.”
Most “candid” photos are staged, a fact she pointed out several times on her deleted Instagram account:Image Credit: Instagram
“I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention.”
O’Neill has also started a campaign to spread the truth about social media fame, called Let’s Be Game Changers.
She has also recorded a video to thank her fans for their support.