The act of "quitting" social media in 2015 has become nearly as cliche as the #fitfam photos flooding Instagram right now (especially when said quitter pops up with gym selfies in your feed again two weeks later.)
And yet not all "I'm deleting my account!!!" announcements are created equal.

An Australian teenager is prompting more heads turns than eye rolls this week by actively destroying a social media empire she's spent her entire teenage life building — and choosing to have a life "in the real world" over all of the sponsorship money, social status, and career opportunities that come with having 500,000 followers.
Essena O'Neill, now 18, started posting photos of herself "dressing older" and "trying to be sexy" at the age of 12 in an attempt to become "Facebook famous." 

"I figured, the more people that clicked 'like' on my photos, the more people actually liked me in real life," she wrote in a recent blog post about how she came to be obsessed with social media attention. "To be Facebook Famous meant everyone liked you. Girls wanted to be your friend, boys wanted to date you. Everyone talked about you, watched you, stalked you, wanted to be you."
Essena O'Neil 2
"A 15 year old girl that calorie restricts and excessively exercises is not goals," wrote O'Neil in the caption of another re-edited Instagram post. "Anyone addicted to social media fame like I once was, is not in a conscious state." (Instagram/@essenaoneill)
By 16, O'Neill says her internet fame had surpassed everyone else in her Queensland, Aus. town.

"I had all the attention I had ever dreamed of and more. And… I had never been more miserable in my life," she wrote. "I was a living paradox of conditional self-love and constant self-hate... I liked myself based on how tight and toned my body was, how pretty my hair and makeup was, how hot the guy I was talking to was, how happy I looked in photos, how many people liked my photos… my whole idea of self worth revolved around my appearance and my social media status."

Still, she continued to primp, pose for and post photos of herself across various social networks throughout the remainder of her school years, spending "endless hours everyday" on social media until she had amassed more than half-a-million followers on Instagram alone.

"My parents argue I would have spent at least 50 hours a week at this so called hobby," she explained. "This included answering questions on Tumblr, posting daily photos  Instagram, YouTube videos, recipes, workouts... My success was largely in the hands of my white privilege and genetics. I was thin, tanned, toned, blonde with a big smile and a push up bra."

By the time she'd graduated high school, O'Neill was making enough money through brand sponsorships, YouTube ad revenue and modelling gigs to support herself while traveling the world.
"Spoiler alter; with one of the biggest talent and modelling agencies in LA wanting to sign me, dating a terribly sexy and successful guy, over half a million followers on Instagram, beautiful friends and a supportive family — I wasn't happy," she wrote in the 'info' section of her newly-launched, selfie-free website. "I wasn't being myself, because I didn't know how to. I lost myself to the fear of not being enough, not having enough and not being what other's wanted. That's all changing now."  

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