Instagram Star Quits Social Media, Says "It’s Not Real Life!"


An Australian teenager with more than 612,000 Instagram followers sensationally quit social media, saying her "perfect life" was actually making her miserable.

This is Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old from the Sunshine Coast of Australia.

She has 612,000 followers on Instagram, some 60,000 friends on Snapchat, and more than 200,000 subscribers on YouTube.

O’Neil used to be considered a teenage social media superstar until last October, when she said goodbye to her massive following and shut down most of her social media platforms.

So what happened?

On 27 October, she quit all the social media platforms, describing it as “contrived perfection made to get attention,” and called for others to quit social media – perhaps with help from her new website.

She deleted more than 2,000 pictures “that served no real purpose other than self-promotion,” and renamed her Instagram account: "Social Media Is Not Real Life."

On her last Instagram post, O’Neill wrote: “Without realizing, I’ve spent the majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status, and my physical appearance. Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. It’s contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated, self-absorbed judgment. 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.”

Saying social media is "not real," O'Neill dramatically edited the captions to the remaining 96 posts in a bid to to reveal the manipulation, mundanity, and even insecurity behind them.

In the rewritten captions on her massively liked photos, she explained what it took to create each perfectly staged shot and the amount of time she spent while taking them.

Here are some of the new captions she wrote on her past posts:

"I didn't pay for the dress, took countless photos trying to look hot for Instagram, the formal made me feel incredibly alone."

"Was paid $400 to post a dress."

"That's when I had maybe 150k followers, with half a million followers, I know of many online brands (with big budgets) that pay up to $2000 per post. Nothing is wrong with accepting brand deals. I just think it should be known. This photo had no substance, it was not of ethical manufacturing (I was uneducated at the time). SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL is my point. Be aware what people promote, ask yourself, what's their intention behind the photo"

"I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it"

"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."

“…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.”

“The only thing that made me feel good that day was this photo"

“How deeply depressing. Having a toned body is not all we as human beings are capable of.”

“Without realizing, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance,”

“‘Please like this photo, I put on makeup, curled my hair, tight dress, big uncomfortable jewelry… Took over 50 shots until I got one I thought you might like, then I edited this one selfie for ages on several apps- just so I could feel some social approval from you,’”

“Yeah 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?”

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