Former influencer’s social media backflip

In 2015, Essena O’Neill, who was then a 19-year-old from the Queensland Sunshine Coast, was a popular social media influencer.

She had amassed half a million Instagram followers, more than 250,000 YouTube subscribers and her Snapchats were watched by more than 60,000 when she suddenly announced she felt she was deceiving her fans with the online life.

Ms Ms O’Neill said she had grown disenchanted with the world of Instagram stardom and warned her fans in a 17-minute video not to believe everything they saw on social media.

Essena O’Neill made headlines when she famously quit social media. Picture: Essena O’Neill/InstagramSource:Instagram

She shut down her Tumblr, YouTube and Snapchat accounts and changed her Instagram account name to Social Media is Not Real.

She’s also edited her Instagram feed with the “true captions” to uncover the pains taken to achieve the flawless snaps, saying she probably “took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good” and “would have hardly eaten that day”.

That was four years ago and now Ms O’Neill has suddenly resurfaced, joining Instagram again and conducting a 30-minute interview with YouTuber Tiffany Ferguson.

During the interview Ms O’Neill spoke about her thought process during her sensational exit from social media and what she has been doing in the years since.

“I have been studying, I have been working many sh***y jobs and I have been struggling. It hasn’t been great,” she said during the interview.

She is now back on Instagram four years later. Picture: Tiffanyferg/YouTube

She is now back on Instagram four years later. Picture: Tiffanyferg/YouTubeSource:YouTube

When asked if there was anything she missed about her social media fame, the now 23-year-old noted she did miss the insane pleasure of earning money” through social media.

“Working minimum wage and then getting paid to promote a cute vegan product, it’s a different life,” she said.

“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.

“You don’t know what it is like to have people who actually listen to you, who actually want to read every word you write, who actually take the time to say ‘wow I loved your opinion’.”

Ms O’Niell’s new Instagram page already has over 3600 followers, with the former social media star sharing her first post on Friday.

“So coming back online … I’m terrified,” she wrote.

In the post she praised Tiffany Ferguson for her YouTube content and conducting the interview with her.

“When I first messaged her on Twitter about a week ago I was so f***ing nervous … but talking with her on Skype about just everything was honestly too good to write about,” she wrote.

“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.”

When Ms O’Niell quit Instagram she told her followers she would be launching a website called Lets Be Game Changers.

She asked people to donate to her to allow her to create this new website and support her new life without social media.

She said she wants the connection she had with her followers back. Picture: Essena O'Neill/Instagram

She said she wants the connection she had with her followers back. Picture: Essena O’Neill/InstagramSource:Instagram

At the time she received about $10,000 in donations but things quickly turned sour when she closed the site without refunding anyone’s money.

The 23-year-old addressed the issue in the recent interview, claiming she “panicked” and donated about half of it to charity.

“That was a f**k lot of money and that was amazing. But as soon as I felt like I couldn’t create content, I just lost all trust in who I was and what I was doing,” she 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.”

She then said her therapist suggested she go away for three weeks to “clear her head” so she went and volunteered in Cambodia.

Ms O’Neill revealed she is now living “pay check to pay check”.

“There were so many sleepless nights where I have just thought I’ll never be able to pay those people back,” she said.


Related posts

Make a comment