Australian Instagram star, Essena O’Neill has publicly revealed the dark side of social media on her Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr platforms. With over half a million followers on Instagram, the 18-year-old Australian received modeling contracts, and brands paid her to promote its products on her Instagram.
O’Neill quickly became an Australian Instagram star but struggled with anxiety and depression, and social media played a prominent role in her unhappiness. The Instagram star defined herself by her number of followers and likes, and comments on her posts. She went to extreme lengths to perfect her posts making sure they we’re “Instagram worthy”– at times she didn’t eat and took over 400 shots with her stomach sucked in.
“I was surrounded by all this wealth and all this fame and all this power and yet they were all miserable, and I had never been more miserable,” O’Neill said.
Since then, O’Neill has decided to quit social media and renamed her Instagram account, “Social Media Is Not Real Life.” She deleted over 2,000 posts and has changed the captions to the reality of each post (e.g. how many hours spent and how alone she felt). O’Neill is now focusing her efforts on causes she cares about such as veganism.