Instagram Teen Pulls Back The Curtain To Prove That “Nothing You See Is Real”

If you’ve ever found yourself at the mercy of a 10 minute photoshoot just to get one perfect #haircut #selfie, or spent more than, hmm, five minutes arranging your book, your coffee and your flaky croissant on a table before taking a picture, you understand intimately the empty hunger for social media approval.  You also, on some level, understand that social media is not entirely “real.” Essence O’Neill, an Australian lifestyle blogger and Instagram celebrity, has finally realized that the jig is up. She’s using her giant following, amassed via bikini shots and carefully-lit acai bowls, to finally tell the truth: all social media is fake as hell.

From her website,, O’Neill writes:

 I found myself drowning in the illusion. Social media isn’t real. It’s purely contrived mages and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes and dislikes, validation in views, success in followers… it’s perfectly orchestrated judgement. And it consumed me.

O’Neill combed through her Instagram photos and edited the captions to reveal what really went into all of those “candid” shots:

NOT REAL LIFE – paid $$$ to promote both the jeans and top. More info on how instagramer's make a lot of $$$ on

A photo posted by Social Media Is Not Real Life (@essenaoneill) on

Nothing about this image is inspiring to younger generations or creating real change.

A photo posted by Social Media Is Not Real Life (@essenaoneill) on

These photos show the harsh reality of the grossness behind social media celebrity, so different from actual celebrity because all you’re actually getting paid (or not paid for, in lots of cases) for is the way you look and present yourself. There’s no actual talent, perceived or otherwise. It’s a calculated, empty grab at approval, which is precisely why O’Neill is getting the hell out. “I don’t wish anything more from myself other than to action my values, keep learning and enjoy this crazy ass experience we call life,” she says.