18-year-old Australian Instagram star Essena O’Neill had amassed half a million followers on Instagram, 200,000 subscribers on her YouTube and Tumblr accounts, and 60,000 people viewing her Snapchat every day. Her fans idolized her appearance, commenting things like "#goals" and "you're perfect." So, why on Earth would she want to erase her social media presence?
"I've spent the majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status, and my physical appearance," O'Neill writes in her last Instagram post on October 27. "[Social media] is 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 judgement."
So, she decided she's done with social media — at least using it for self-promotion. Now, she's using it for social good.
O'Neill has deleted over 2,000 photos from her Instagram, changed her account name to "Social Media Is Not Real Life," and replaced the captions on the remaining photos with truthful anecdotes about posts she was paid for, how many tries it took to get the shot, and the pressures she felt to look perfect.