An Australian Instagram star has decided to pull the plug on her "dream life," denouncing the artificial nature of social media and revealing the truth behind her social media posts.
"I'm quitting Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr," Essena O'Neil wrote in a final post, according to the "Today" show. "Deleted over 2,000 photos here today that served no real purpose other than self-promotion. Without realizing, I've spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance."
Before deleting her accounts altogether, O’Neil replaced the captions of the remaining photos with truthful comments detailing the story behind the image and renamed her account ‘Social Media Is Not Real’ in a bid to spread her message of "contrived perfection."
With an Instagram audience of more than 700,000 followers, the 19-year-old was rewarded financially for her filtered existence, making an income by peddling products in her posts. In one re-edited caption, O’Neil said she was paid $400 to publish a photo of herself wearing a dress.
"I know of many online brands (with big budgets) that pay up to $2,000 per post," she wrote. "Nothing is wrong with accepting brand deals. I just think it should be known. This photo had no substance, it was not of ethical manufacturing."
O’Neil has launched a new website called Lets Be Game Changers in order to “talk about real stuff and real people,” in a forum where there are no “likes.”
“I wish to create a platform that acts to spread new age messages of conscious living, addition to technology, conversations on transparency online, minimize the celebrity culture, promote veganism, plant based nutrition, environmental awareness, social issues, gender equality, controversial art,” she writes in a post.
In her first post, dated Oct. 31, she challenged her followers to go a week without social media, and recommended Eckhart Tolle’s book "The Power of Now."
The response to O’Neil’s decision has been mixed, with some fans applauding the blogger for her bravery while others questioned her intent.