‘ Essena O’Neill, a social media star with over half a million followers on Instagram alone, has decided to call it quits. The teen took to YouTube this week to announce that she has deleted 2,000 Instagram photos last week and renamed her account “Social Media Is Not Real Life.” Essena also recaptioned the photos she did leave on her account to reflect what it actually took to get the “perfect” shot. She wrote:
“I’m quitting Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr. Deleted over 2000 photos here today that served no real purpose other than self promotion. Without realising, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance,” she wrote on an Instagram post from Oct. 27. “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 judgement. I was consumed by it.”
Essena is now using her platform to spread a new message about living an authentic life. Time reports:
Now, the teen is launching her own website called Let’s Be Game Changers where she hopes to continue to educate people about the destructive nature of trying to gain approval online. “I know you didn’t come into this world just wanting to fit in and get by. You are reading this now because you are a game changer, you might not know your power yet, I am just finding mine, but man… when you do… far out you’ll go crazy. It’ll be brilliant. You’ll be brilliant,” she wrote.
I admire they way Essena has broken out of the world that had been created for her on social media, and has bravely showed the world her authentic self. I hope this inspires other teens to realize that “perfect” images on a screen do not a perfect life make.Plus, Essena rewrote her Instagram photo captions to portray the truth behind the photos.
The new captions say things like “It took me three hours to take this photo in a way that made my stomach look flat,” or “I thought this nice dress would make me feel sophisticated, but it only made me feel lonely,” or “I had acne that day, so I covered it up with tons of makeup.”
Or, “I didn’t eat for a day to get this photo.”
She is now using her old photos to spread a refreshingly new message – what you see on social media isn’t real life. What you put on social media, how many likes you get, how much attention you receive – these aren’t real things we should spend all our time thinking about.
Here’s her reaction to the response of her “quitting” has garnered:
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