“Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real.”
One week ago, you’d be forgiven for assuming social media star Essena O’Neill had the perfect life.
The 19-year-old’s glamorous bikini photos, pensive beach shots and pouty, immaculately made-up selfies won her half a million followers on Instagram, as well as 200,000 subscribers on YouTube and Tumblr.
But the Queensland teenager has recently had a change of heart — and now she’s quit social media amid a public campaign to highlight the superficial, manufactured nature of social media.
You can watch a clip of Essena’s announcement here (the whole video is available on YouTube, post continues after clip):
Since Tuesday, Essena has deleted 2000 photos from her Instagram account and changed her account name to “Social Media Is Not Real Life”.
She has also edited the captions on her remaining Instagram photos to detail how they were manufactured, and her honest commentary makes for fascinating and reassuring reading.
“Now marks the day I quit all social media and focus on real life projects,” the Coolum woman posted in a caption on October 27. She has since posted dozens of frank comments about the destructive nature of social media and its users’ obsession with gaining approval. “Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real,” she wrote. “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 judgement.”
I had acne here, this is a lot of makeup. I was smiling because I thought I looked good. Happiness based on aesthetics will suffocate your potential here on earth. A photo posted by Social Media Is Not Real Life (@essenaoneill) on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:53pm PDT