Essena O'Neill: YouTube vlogger exposes the dark sides of social media fame that made her 'miserable'

The Australian Vlogger has over half a million followers on YouTube and Instagram

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 03 November 2015 09:51 GMT

A teenage YouTube star has released an emotional video on the darker side of social media following her decision to quit part of the industry.

Australian Essena O’Neil, 19, claims to have made thousands of dollars from reaching almost 700,000 Instagram followers and 250,000 YouTube followers.

But most of her posts were carefully manufactured, paid for by companies and advertisers, and contributed to her feeling “miserable” about herself, she claims.

“I quit social media because of my 12-year-old self. I want everyone to know that. At 12 years old I was miserable because of the numbers I saw on a screen and at 18… I was miserable as well, even when I had it all,” Ms O’Neill tells her followers in a 17-minute video, titled “Why I REALLY am quitting social media | The Truth.”

“I met people that are far more successful online than I am, and they are just as miserable and lonely and scared and lost. We all are.”

“I feel like at 12 I thought I was nothing, and here – at nearly 19 – with all of these followers I don’t even know what is real and what is not because I have let myself be defined by something that is so not real.”

The video follows her decision on 27 October to delete roughly 2,000 images from her Instagram account, and re-caption many of the remaining 96 photographs with more truthful recollections.

“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,” she posted announcing her decision.

A caption on an image now reads: “Was paid $400 to post a dress.” It goes on to state: “I know of many online brands (with big budgets) that pay up to $2000 per post.”

Although Ms O’Neil stresses she has nothing against those who do advertise in their posts – and are paid for it – she claims YouTube and Instagram stars must be honest about their posts.

Another, of Ms O’Neill fishing, states: “Ahhaha how fun is it to put a hook through an innocent beings mouth.”

Blogger video banned for being an advert

Her old website now links to a new site,, which appeared to have crashed as of Tuesday morning due to weight of traffic.

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