Teen Model with Huge Following Swears Off Social Media for “Real Life”

posted: 11/03/15
by: Courtney Reimer
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Essena O'Neill in her emotional YouTube video.

By the time she was 18, Essena O'Neill achieved her dream of gaining tens of thousands of followers on social media. Now she's decided to walk away from her online glory favor of "real life," and is spreading her message of abandoning the positive reinforcement of likes, subscribers and followers in order to spend more time with "real people."

"I had it all and I was miserable," O'Neill says in 17-minute rant called "Why I REALLY am Quitting Social Media| The Truth" (her last YouTube video, she insists).

She renamed her popular Instagram account "Social Media is Not Real," and is editing the captions on a lot of the beautiful modeling shots to tell the backstory of them.

In her final Instagram post, she explains the drastic move: "I'm quitting Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr. Deleted over 2000 photos here today that served no real purpose other than self promotion. Without realising, I've spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance."

Essena also launched a new website called Let's Be Game Changers in an attempt to empower people to better their world. In the site's mission statement, she writes: "Imagine if every single person tomorrow morning woke up with the courage to say 'I don't like this about the world I live in, instead of accepting it, complaining or ignoring, I believe I can help change it' or 'This isn't fair or right, why aren't we all wanting to do something about it? Come on, together we can be the change!!'"

While many of her grand statements are peppered (and some might argue clouded) by the extreme emotion of a teenager, she does have a good point. Perhaps we could all stand to dial it back a bit and spend less time on our phones and more time with loved ones.