Australian teenager with more than 612,000 Instagram followers radically rewrites her ‘self-promoting’ history on social media (and launches new website)
An Australian teenager with more than half a million followers on Instagram has quit the platform, describing it as “contrived perfection made to get attention”, and called for others to quit social media – perhaps with help from her new website.
Essena O’Neill, 18, said she was able to make an income from marketing products to her 612,000 followers on Instagram – “$2000AUD a post EASY”. But her dramatic rejection of social media celebrity has won her praise.
On 27 October she deleted more than 2,000 pictures “that served no real purpose other than self-promotion”, and dramatically edited the captions to the remaining 96 posts in a bid to to reveal the manipulation, mundanity, and even insecurity behind them. O’Neill did not respond to requests for an interview.
A photo of her wearing a bikini, once captioned “Things are getting pretty wild at my house. Maths B and English in the sun,” has been edited: “see how relatable my captions were – stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs. I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention.”
“Why would you tell your followers that you’re paid a lot to promote what you promote? Why would you tell your followers that you literally just do shoots every day to take pictures for Instagram?” she said in a 22-minute vlog posted to YouTube, titled “HOW PEOPLE MAKE 1000’s ON SOCIAL MEDIA”. “Like, it’s not cool. No one thinks that’s radical, or revolutionary.
“Yet I, myself, was consumed by it. This was the reason why I quit social media: for me, personally, it consumed me. I wasn’t living in a 3D world.”
“I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it,” she wrote of her first-ever post, a selfie that now has close to 2,500 likes. “It got 5 likes. This was when I was so hungry for social media validation ... Now marks the day I quit all social media and focus on real life projects.”
O’Neill would “still be creating awesome content”, concluded Rebecca – and in the meantime, she had uploaded her own vlog about the drama, “where I try to shed some light on the situation and my thoughts”.