But if you look at the feeds of Internet celebrities, you'd be led to believe something different. Seemingly effortless shots make their lives look charmed, at the very least. #Blessed, you would probably say.
But today, Essena O'Neill, an 18-year-old Australian blogger, vlogger and social media star with more than half a million followers on Instagram and more than 250,000 followers on YouTube, announced she didn't want to be a part of it all anymore, Buzzfeed reports. Through her success, Essena has secured tons of sponsorship opportunities as well as a modeling gig through IMG, which, she says, she no longer wants to pursue.
Essena deleted more than 2,000 photos off Instagram, saying that she's quitting the photo sharing platform along with YouTube and Tumblr. The photos that she left posted have been edited to drop some major #TruthBombs, explaining that they were often heavily staged, or that she would barely eat in order to get a killer shot of her abs. Saying that she is proud of the vegan content she's created, Essena plans to create new videos on Vimeo that will be free of charge and free of likes, views and followers. She's also created a new website.
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. Social media, especially how I used it, isn't real. It's 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 judgement. I was consumed by it. I spent majority of my day aimlessly scrolling, hours on YouTube... 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 realise it's delusional powers and the impact it has on our lives. There's a select few photos I left here, half are original captions that I believe to be educational, the other half are photos that deluded you. It was never my conscious intention, but 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. So I rewrote the captions of these false photos with short shots of reality. EVERYTHING EXPLAINED IN THE LINK IN MY BIO. There's no likes or views or followers there. Just my content as raw as I want. It's all going to be free of course. My main vegan videos will still be on YouTube, but vimeo will host all the new quality content. Made to help not to get views or $$$. How will I spread my message? Organically. If it moves someone, they tell their friends about it, simple as that. I'll be talking about vegansim, creative imagery with purpose, poems, writing, interviews with people that inspire me, and of course the finical reality behind deluding people off Instagram...I was so caught up in it all. P.S when the new form of social sharing comes out, something that doesn't revolve around likes and views but based on similar topics/quality for example, I will see you there, whenever that day comes.... We must create change.
"I had the dream life," Essena says in an emotional last YouTube video. "I'm the girl that had it all, and I wanna tell you that having it all on social media means absolutely nothing to your real life."
Real caption edit: @rachael_consaul took some great photos. Without a doubt she is talented. Originally I wanted them for my new site essenaoneill.com 🤖 Oh how much can change in a few small weeks. I now wish I wasn't wearing such a mask. I love this dress for it makes me feel like a fairy. What wasn't captured was the long talks we had sitting on the beach waiting for golden hour lighting. That's real life, this image is contrived beauty, not real.
Judging by the comments on many of the pics, Essena's departure from social media has been embraced by many of her fans.
As for other vloggers?
Edit: "Please like this photo, I put on makeup, curled my hair, tight dress, big uncomfortable jewellery... Took over 50 shots until I got one I thought you might like, then I edited this one selfie for ages on several apps- just so I could feel some social approval from you." THERE IS NOTHING REAL ABOUT THIS. #celebrityconstruct
"Just because you're making money from something, doesn't that it's innately evil or dishonest," says Cambio Advice Muse Tiffany Ferguson, also a vegan YouTuber, in her own response video.
While Essena sheds some light on the harsh reality that is the business of social media, Tiffany makes an important counterargument: Even though it is easy to edit and manipulate your online persona, that isn't necessarily all bad. It's up to viewers to be smart about the way they interpret their social media feeds and role models. It's not always what it seems!