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05 Nov

Instagram star breaks away from social media

Posted by Bikini Owner

When Instagram launched in 2010, sharing a photo was exactly that: sharing with friends, family and maybe a few curious folks – not a lot of science behind it.

Fast forward to present day, and what used to function as a low-key photo album is now a mega photo-app — and a huge opportunity for business and industrious hustlers alike, all betting on reaping the benefits of an “insta-famous” life.


A photo posted by Essena Oneill (@essena.oneiil) on


And there is, in fact, a science to this now — or at least a carefully applied consideration of branding, tags, gimmicky captions, the right filters, the best posting times, and of course, the best selfie or a premediated "candid" pose. But it's a hard game to keep up over time — and now we're starting to see Instagram celebs hit a breaking point. We get it – how can you keep up this ultra-manicured life when it’s not even reality?


I was miserable. Stuck. Uninspired. Angry. I didn’t enjoy the act of creating art, writing or any forms of self expression like I once did as a child. When no one judged it, I created without limitation or filters. When it was for no one else but myself, I fell in love with it. And it loved me right back. It made me feel alive. It was like capturing and expressing real life, real feeling, real beauty — it gave me this joy that I still can’t explain. You know that feeling of inspiration, passion and purpose you get when you do something you just love? That’s why I do what I do. I don’t want approval anymore, it traps me into thinking I need more and more and more. I don’t want to be liked or judged either. I want a place where I can give with no expectations or outcome. I don’t want followers anymore. I want a world of individual beings. #gamechangers #socialmediaisnotreal #socialmedia #bethechange #movement #essenaoneill

A photo posted by Essena Oneill (@essena.oneiil) on


This is where Aussie model and Instagram star Essena O’Neill comes into the picture. You’ve probably heard of her by now. She’s the 19-year-old pulling the curtain back on what it means to have a half-million followers  — and what it's like to live with the pressure of showing off a life, real or fake, designed to earn as many likes as possible. 

Last week, O'Neill promised to delete her Tumblr and Snapchat accounts, and quit Instagram and YouTube — the channels that made her famous. In recalibrating her online life, she deleted over 2,000 images of super-filtered posts, only keeping photos with re-edited captions explaining what really went down to get the shot. In one she explains, “NOT REAL LIFE – I didn’t pay for the dress, took countless photos trying to look hot for Instagram, the formal made me feel incredibly alone.”


A photo posted by Essena Oneill (@essena.oneiil) on


Most of us already knew the behind-the-scenes shenanigans behind most social media sensations. O'Neill's pivot, though, is a good reminder that the lives we see on the feeds are often calculated business strategies.



In another post, she explains: “How can we see ourselves and our true purpose/talents if we are constantly viewing others? Many of us are in so deep we don't realize its delusional powers and the impact it has on our lives. I deluded a lot of people...Call it deception, manipulation, lying, not saying the whole truth... I was both addicted to social approval and terrified no one would value me for myself.”

We feel her – feeling suffocated and unworthy is not a good place to be. And she's found a way to make this shift work for her. On her recently launched website — called “Let’s be Game Changers” — she promises to promote self-love and positive thinking – not geared for likes or dollars…


Don’t get us wrong. We won’t be quitting social media any time soon, but we can appreciate the greater goal of empowering social media users to create a healthier environment — for themselves above all others. 

We'd bet this is another sign of the rise of inclusive social media communities — like Yoga Girl’s oneOeight world, a platform that stemmed from a realization that social media just isnt't real life, as Rachel Brathen explained in an interview with us and in last week’s TED talk.

Whatever your stance on social media, remember: It’s meant to be entertaining and inspiring. And if it's making you crazy, instead of making you happy, it might be time for a break.