Essena O’Neill

I came across Essena O’Neill in Dec 2015 when i seen on Facebook that she had quit social. I found out she was 19 year old Australian model who had half a million Instagram followers.

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She edited her instagram account and added real captions of what was happening at the time, below are some of the edits

At the time there was controversy about using social media to quit social media, below were just a few comments from the above Facebook post from ELLE

This is her Vlog stating why she decided to quit. One of the main things that caught my attention was her stating that the video was for her 12 year old self – “When i was 12 i told myself i meant nothing that i was worthy of nothing,  i wasn’t popular, i wasn’t a model, i wasn’t beautiful by societies standards. obsessively stalked everyone who was that online”


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Since December she has completely revamped her website “Lets be game changers” because she received a negative backlash to it stating the website was “100-percent self-promotion.”

Her new website now looks like thisScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 12.19.21.png

In response to the negative backlash about “Lets be game changers” she states “I was just shocked and honestly just confused… the way it all turned so negative just numbed me…As if I was making it all up? For what? Money? Fame? I had that before so that makes sense? That I was a genius manipulator and knew this would make world news? I was a hypocrite because I used social media to explain my story to the half a million people that once idolised me? That I was a fraud, a hoax, a brilliant actor just because I was smiling in the pictures and said those smiles weren’t real? Seeing people I knew making videos as if my personal life, tears and obvious vulnerability… as if it was some kind of joke to them? I couldn’t believe people couldn’t just call me first, but wanted to make such a public spectrum.”

On the original website there was forums and contacts and it was more of a personal blog style. She had set up sections about her personal “Daily ritual” which was a basically a contract to herself of the things she would do and her daily routine and some writing on her experience. Below are a few extracts from the website which i saved at the time, unfortunately its unavailable now:


“Basing self worth on other peoples edited highlights”

“Desire for social approval”

“Culture creates validation and insecurities based on likes and views”

One section on the website was “Ask Essena” where she would pick an email from a follower and answer it on the site

The is an “Ask Essena” on Internet management

Charlotte: I think spending less time behind screens would have many benefits for me as well, but I find it so hard to make a commitment. I need the internet for studies/work and would be fine using it just or mainly for that, but the problem is that once I start clicking away I get sucked in. I might actually be a little bit addicted. Could you suggest a way of using the internet more consciously and efficiently?

Thank you, you are amazing and beautiful and I have so much love for you.

Hi Charlotte!!

Thank you for your very sweet words and mannn can I relate! I remember being at school and listening half to the teacher but always half my attention was on either youtube/facebook/instagram/tumblr/snapchat. Or I would be looking up pictures of celebrities, reading gossip columns, stalking people… or just getting sidetracked completely and watching stupidly hilarious youtube videos…

I would ask you, what do you get sucked in by? Is it gossip? Drama? Artificial 2D perfection? Or is it more entertainment based – Jokes? Humour? TV Shows? Gaming?

Identify exactly what ‘sucks you in’. Once you identify those things, say it’s a certain social media site or a show etc, you can get really firm with yourself, even mentally go ‘bing bing bing it’s sucking me in’ and click off. Sounds silly but I found verbally doing something like that helps to action a change, because it’s so silly you’re like ‘oh okay no I don’t want to waste my life!’

For me I just completely cut off social media and all use of youtube/tumblr/snapchat/facebook/instagram… and I found my whole life/self esteem just increased dramatically. I was using it anywhere from 4-8 hours a day! That’s like over 4 months of my year! It was the centre of my career, but even then, I was just aimlessly stalking, scrolling, comparing, wishing, wanting…. I just had to cut it all off like ‘nope I have a serious addiction, these perfect lives and pictures aren’t doing all that much for me anymore’. I had soooo much more time after that, and I started doing things like writing, reading and drawing that I always thought I didn’t have time for. I now can’t wait for my lunch break or after work to go read a novel, or leisurely write, or go out into the forest for a run… There’s something so mystical and beautiful in life out of screens. I’m serious! It was as if – when I completely quit – the spell of comparison, boredom, anxiety was lifted. I started seeing a lot of how I used social media as absurd  – perfect edited highlights, not the raw, mystical, genuine, calm, educated substance of integrity. I now crave those things, things of substance. That now ‘sucks’ me in. And those things enrich my life.

I would never say you have to quit all together, but hey, why not just delete all the social media apps/disable your account/promise yourself not to use it online for JUST a week? See if you can do it! See if you really do have an addiction. This may make you more aware of how easy it is to get addicted or may make you experience life without it, and you can weigh the pros and cons for yourself. It could be a cool experiment! Same with TV shows or youtube videos… just go one whole week where you’re not allowed to view anything, other than educational.

Which brings me to my next point! Education intertwined with entertainment is so healthy and needed! The internet can be awesome when you know where to look/what to view/how to distinguish real stuff over just overly superficial advertised content… Why not try out some podcasts? Audio books? Ted Talks? Documentaries? Make sure to check out stuff of substance, then stupid distractions don’t seem all that worthy of your time!

  1. Podcasts – Serial (omg amazing listened to the whole series last weekend)
  2. Novels – Jane Eyre (just listening now on audible – that type of rich literature, underling social themes, and pure enchantment of that time… it just fills me up in a way social media scrolling never did [haha sounds so cliche but I’m serious!])
  3. Ted Talks are another way to find out new ideas, to then further your research into relevant books and ideas!
  4. AntiMedia – for unbiased world news
  5. HitRecord – for online collaborations for all creatives

Another way to manage time better on the web is to set mini tasks for yourself, each with a reward. So for me, 2 hours of book writing will equal to 30 mins of tea and Jane Eyre. I think it’s about giving yourself a healthy balance of something you love (that’s of substance or creativity) and setting yourself goals with work/school that can benefit that, not go against it!

I would also suggest limiting screen time altogether and planning in advance activities to get you out and about! Instead of wasting your time looking at other people’s lives unfolding (social media, TV), start to explore new things and write your own story! Maybe this could mean getting yourself into a class that you like, cooking or the arts. If not, start a new hobby like running, yoga, reading the classics (like i’m currently on the mission to!). Maybe look at social events in your area? Plan real life no phones allowed dates with friends… I have NO idea what you would like to do, but I think by setting activities in stone, you then become motivated when on the computer for homework/school, so you can finish up in time for your hobby/class/interest.

Additionally, I have never used this, so I can’t speak from an experience, but this site has helped sooo many of my friends – it helps block sites for periods of time, you can select time management goals etc.

All up, I think it comes down to realising what YOU personally want to get out of your life big picture and little picture. While cute cats, stalking an ex or watching someone hilariously eat a tablespoon of cinnamon… is of course entertaining… wasting hours on this stuff is just plain silly. Let’s give each other a WAKE UP call, and be like ‘yo enough is enough.’ By eliminating social media completely for me and then finding other sources of entertainment of substance, it filled my mind and time with things that enriched my life… not provided cheap laughs or distractions.

You have goals, dreams, interests and passions… explore and nurture those. But also, fully plug off for hours and explore the big world outside… people watch, see how the world works, explore trees, caves, oceans, parks… explore, dream, read and fuel your mind with substance and reality – not 2D artificial stuff made to make money.



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