Some teens dream of having half a million Instagram followers, 200,000 people watching their Youtube videos, and 60,000 users keeping up with their Snapchats. 19-year-old Essena O’Neill is forgoing it all to show the ugly truth behind her “perfect life” on social media.
The Australian native posted her last YouTube video on Monday explaining her decision to overhaul her social media accounts. O’Neill deleted thousands of photos from Instagram, renamed her account to “Social Media Is Not Real Life,” and edited the captions of her remaining photos to expose the truth behind the images.
“I’ve spent the majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status, and my physical appearance,” O’Neill writes in her last Instagram post. “[Social media] is contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation, in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self-absorbed judgment.”
O’Neill has launched her own website called Let’s Be Game Changers where she plans on continuing to educate others about the destructive nature of limiting themselves to artificial ideas of happiness. In her first blog post, she challenges her followers to delete their social media accounts for one week.
“I want you to actually do this and see what happens,” O’Neill writes. “My whole life changed when I did. I finally woke up. I saw more, I listened more, I had more time, I found myself becoming more and more creative, less stressed, and happier with this new sense of power… but most of all I just FELT MORE. I want you to feel this too. It’s so beautiful. It’s real.”