Back in 2015, Aussie influencer Essena O’Neill removed all her posts, deleted her Instagram account and quit the social media life once and for all. She then had 600,000 followers on Instagram and 250,000 subscribers on YouTube and had reportedly been earning $2,000 for a single post.
O’Neill who joined Instagram when she was 14 had become one of the most followed influencers by the time she 19. The platform had become her main source of income. But in a shocking turn of events, she decided to quit the social media life. She made the announcement in a tearful 17-minute long video.
“This isn’t real” – she said she was miserable and anxious. She also warned her followers not to believe anything they see on the internet, changing her name on Instagram to ‘Social Media is Not Real’.
However, O’Neill is back after 4 years and is once again active on Instagram.
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Just in the wave of it all! Another real flesh n blood goddess I admire @kristenleo !!! Her YouTube videos are fun, hilarious but most importantly revolve around REAL WORLD ISSUES. She dives deep into harmful common day practices (fast fashion, animal agriculture, senseless waste)… and far out her most recent video "PRETTY" !!! I loved her perspective on power and the politics of socially constructed beauty standards… I relate on soooo many levels ???? you're a gem for us all Kristen ???✨ Her authenticity is that leo fiery rock n roll energy everyone needs right now ??❤ go feast on her incredible content over the years!
In a 30-minute interview with YouTuber Tiffany Ferguson, the influencer talked about her decision to quit Instagram, what prompted it and what she has been up to for the last 4 years.
“I have been studying, I have been working many sh***y jobs and I have been struggling. It hasn’t been great,” said the 23-year-old.
Talking about her past life on social media and whether she missed it or not she replied: “Working minimum wage and then getting paid to promote a cute vegan product, it’s a different life. I think as much as I can critique myself, there was something so special about what I had online and I just want it again.”
When Essena quit Instagram back in 2015 she turned towards starting her own website free from all the sponsored posts. She managed to raise $10,000 for her new project. When asked what happened to all the money O’Neill said: “I just panicked. I donated about half of it to random charities. I just wanted to do the right thing. Looking back I wish I would have just figured out how to refund. I just wanted it to be over.”
The Australian talked about how she was living paycheck to paycheck and talked about how she wished she could pay the people back who had donated money for her cause. “There were so many sleepless nights where I have just thought I’ll never be able to pay those people back.”
Since resurfacing O’Neill has started a new Instagram page, which already has 4,800 followers. She first posted on Friday thanking Tiffany and admiring her work and content. “So coming back online… I’m terrified!”
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So coming back online… I'm terrified! ??? Okay so I've been an avid fan of @tferg__ Internet Analysis since it began, and ahhh her perspective and world view really resonates! When I first messaged her on Twitter about a week ago I was so fucking nervous… but talking with her on Skype about just everything was honestly too good to write about… it's so strange admiring someone from afar to then connecting on that personal level… almost too good to be true… eternally grateful… if you like my thoughts, you'll fall in love with her content. Tiffany's integrity and analysis/scope inspires me… but her friendship is something I've wanted for a long time ? My fave vids of hers: Dark Side of Family Vlogging, The Workload Of College Is Overwhelming and of course The Worst Things about "No Longer Vegan" videos ???