updated - June 1, 2020 Monday EDT
18-year-old Essena O’Neill from Australia built a social media empire over the past several years, and has garnered thousands of followers, according to Buzzfeed.
The high school student has now shed light on the complicated, business aspect of social media, bringing awareness to the dark side of being “Internet Famous.”
O’Neill made an income from marketing products to her followers, earning $2,000 AUD a post at times, according to The Guardian. The Australian teenager reportedly deleted more than 2,000 pictures on October 27, stating that they “served no real purpose other than self-promotion.”
For O’Neill, her presence on social media became toxic.
“Why would you tell your followers that you’re paid a lot to promote what you promote? Why would you tell your followers that you literally just do shoots every day to take pictures for Instagram?” she said in her 22-minute blog post on YouTube.
“Like, it’s not cool. No one thinks that’s radical, or revolutionary. 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.”
O’Neill progressively became more focused with the likes that she was receiving for each of her posts.
“I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it,” she wrote of her very first Instagram post.
“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.”
O’Neill has now started a site called letsbegamechangers.com, which is “aimed to inspire constant QUESTIONING.” The site will reportedly focus on “veganism, creative imagery with purpose, poems, writing, interviews with people that inspire me, and of course the finical reality behind deluding people off Instagram.”
O’Neill will continue to post videos on YouTube, but it will primarily cover vegan eating.
“Without realizing, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance,” she wrote.
“Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real.”
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