Essena O’Neill Is Back After Two Months Of Social Media Silence

Remember Essena O’Neill, the social media star who swore off of social media two months ago, then created an advocacy web site about how social media is bad for you before it went defunct? The 19-year-old who replaced all of her Instagram captions with revealing rants about how exactly she was making money doing sponsored posts before then deleting most of them? Who went vegan because social media veganism hashtag hashtag?

Well, she’s back. She wrote a new, rant-y newsletter to her fans about how she’s “just shocked” that anyone might think she was social media-detoxing for the clicks:

“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.”

All of that sic, of course. The answer to these questions, for a lot of people, is a very level-headed “Well, yes, Essena.” The viewing public knew everything she said about social media being toxic and carefully-crafted well before she ever said it, and we knew that her declarations of veganism and anti-social media detoxing were also carefully-crafted, and therein lies the problem: Despite her incredulous tone, it’s Essena who’s naive, here.

And it must suck to be a naive teenager who comes to the realization that she’s unhappy with her life and have the whole thing play out as publicly as it has for O’Neill. The sad thing in all of this isn’t that social media is edited, it’s that she’s flaming out in five different directions at once and doesn’t know how to do it except with an audience, and she’s only nineteen. She says that she’s writing a semi-fictional satirical memoir titled How to Be Social Media Famous. I hope she gets an editor who does right by her and shuts it down, and in the meantime, maybe she can find a little peace out of the spotlight.

[TIME]
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