Belfast Telegraph

Australian Instagram star Essena O'Neill exposes the dark side of social media fame in YouTube video

By Valerie Edwards

Australian teenager with more than 700,000 Instagram followers made an emotional video about the dark side of social media describing the unhappiness that comes with fame and power.

Essena O'Neill became a social media celebrity by posting pictures of her lifestyle, but now the 18-year-old says it has left her "feeling empty and addicted to social media likes".

In a 17-minute video which she uploaded to YouTube, she says she will act against the "unhealthy" ideals of social media and called for others to quit social media as well.

She said: "I had never been more miserable. I'm the girl that had it all and I want to tell you that 'having it all' on social media means absolutely nothing to your real life.

"I quit social media for my 12-year-old self...I've also spent hours watching perfect girls online, wishing I was them. When I became 'one of them', I still wasn't happy, content or at peace with myself."

Essena also set up a website to fight against social media. Last week, she deleted 2,000 photos on Instagram that, she said, "served no real purpose other than self-promotion", and deleted her other social media accounts.

She said: "I don't want to support social sharing sites that makes billions off advertisements I don't agree with."

Essena re-edited several captions on her remaining Instagram photos to reveal "manipulation, mundanity and insecurity".

Her Instagram page is set up to show what she believes is the dark side of social media. Her mini bio reads: Social Media is Not Real LIfe READ THE RE-EDITED CAPTIONS.

Essena's followers on Instagram reacted with praise for her stand against social media.

One user Nicole Girard commented on one of her photos saying: "You are an inspiration. And you've made me realize how sucked into social media I've been. You're brilliant and these pics don't capture your beauty. Thank you for doing this!!!"

Another Instagram user said: "Good for you on this realization and helping other young girls and women realize this too."

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