We millennials constitute the instant gratification generation, deriving validation from our Internet identities and the adulation we receive (or don't) on social media. But how far would you let your social media presence affect your sense of self?
18-year-old Australian Essena O'Neill was a regular teenager before she became a social media phenomenon.
She had a half a million followers on Instagram (along with 200,000 followers on YouTube and Tumblr and 60,000 on her Snapchat, which are now inactive) with selfies, outfit posts, and #fitspo photos.
However, the seemingly perfect life that was portrayed on her social media pages got to her, and led to her breakdown. Before deleting all of her profiles from various social media platforms, she attempted to expose the fabricated reality behind social media modelling.
Referring to social media celebrity as a "contrived perfection made to get attention", O'Neill has called out the insecurities and manipulation associated with these picture perfect posts.
Despite having made a phenomenally successful career out of social media modelling, the purposelessness of the photographs, and how they were taking over her life made her take this drastic move.
" Happiness based on aesthetics will suffocate your potential here on earth", O'Neill says in one of the edited Instagram captions, to drive home the point that there is more to life than views, followers and likes.
Having completely deleted herself off all social media platforms, she now has a dedicated website letsbegamechangers.com where she talks about her decision to quit social media, and appeals to people across the world to create "a social sharing platform not based on validation in views/followers/likes but shared for real value and love".