“Quitting Social Media” – Essena O’Neill

The Forbidden Fruit | Imani Lee | November 11, 2015

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Recently, a young young Australian Instagram famous girl by the name of Essena O’Niell “quit” social media. O’Niell had significant followers on Tumblr, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. She deleted her Tumblr account promptly after announcing the “quit”, but keeps the Youtube and Instagram account were kept up as “symbols”.

At 800,000 IG followers, she takes to recaptioning certain posts and deleting others. She has changed her IG name to “Social Media Is Not Real Life” and recaptions posts to reveal the truth behind the photos. She posts on the unrealistic aspects of the photos, how long they took to take and the ones that were paid promotional posts.

In one recaption of a selfie, she states: “There is nothing real about this.”

This, I can respect. I respect her intentions of calling out the utterly fake aspects of social media. Though, there are other sides to the story. A Youtube video was posted by twin sisters, Nina and Randa, who live in LA who are also Instagram famous and friends of O’Neill. In the video they explain how O’Neill came to stay with them on holiday in LA and began a relationship with one of their male friends. The relationship ended badly and she returned home set on proving the “fakeness” of everyone in LA and of social media. In the Youtube videos that she posted, O’Neill speaks on how the famous and wealthy people in LA are “unhappy” and “fake”. The twins took offense, defending themselves and their friends that Essena hung out with there on holiday. She also calls out other Instagram couples who she also claims as fake in relation to famous male she was dating.

In her nearly 18 minute Youtube video that received almost one million views, she states that she has “no idea how I’m going to make money”. O’Neill had apparently been able to pay her rent with the promos she was posting on her Instagram. Now with the creation of her new website, www.letsbegamechangers.com, she asks her followers to donate. Her website also includes blog posts, fan forums, and a series of vlogs already posted.


Here is where I don’t agree. This campaign has gotten her even more followers and attention than ever and is now asking her followers to donate to her. Her Instagram has gone up to 14.6K followers since deleting all of her posts, but not the actual account. Her Youtube account has been deleted since (though not immediately), with her videos being reposted by others. I appreciate where she attempted to go with this, but to ask your followers to pay your rent? Just, no. Honey can get a job just like the rest us.

Users of all platforms have posted in skeptical of her authenticity, viewing it as just another means of self-promotion. A Facebook user commenting on the story from ABC Australia wrote, “this is simply smart marketing. She’s reversing her conventional media exposure. She’s clever – this will only improve her career in a shift towards ‘body positive’ advocacy”.

If taking a break from social media is what she needed, I’m fully supportive. Revealing the “fakeness” of her online persona is honorable, but calling out others isn’t. I believe she could’ve campaigned against social media in a way that didn’t bring down the people she attempted to call out. Plus, if she wanted to “get off the grid”, as she says in one of her Youtube videos, she could’ve just deleted all of her accounts all together. And I do agree, that this was all more promotion of her, even if it wasn’t all the way intentional. Her website is up and running with blog posts and videos, so regardless, the Internet will still be hearing from her.