Essena O’Neill Exposes Fake Online Relationships in Dispatch From Social-Media Afterlife

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Australian social-media star Essena O’Neill may have loudly quit social media in an extensive Instagram campaign, but lucky for fans she’s still posting on Vimeo (which is, apparently, not social media) through her new Let’s Be Game Changers site (which is also not social media). Her latest social-media crusade is against made-up social-media relationships — Instagram or YouTube stars who start dating only for the sake of views and fans. 

The video is called “Love Gets Likes.” In it, O’Neill displays a series of draft selfies that she snapped for a “famous supermodel” she met in Thailand, who then pursued her over social media and proposed a brand collaboration disguised as a relationship. “We’d both bump up our followers,” he apparently told her, mentioning other online faux romances. “It shocked me realizing this person was only pursuing me because I had a heap of followers,” O’Neill says. That must have indeed been shocking. “I want to focus on being just my dowdy self and having someone love me for who’s inside.” Hmmm.

The video is one of a series of beyond-the-social-media-grave monologues called “Behind the Image,” in which O’Neill reveals the details of her Instagram life. “This life of effortless beauty is not effortless,” she says of a portrait shot on the beach featuring some product placement. “The necklace I didn’t even really like that much.” Watching the videos is a little like listening in on a therapy session. “I see someone that wanted more from life than images,” she says, looking at old pictures of herself.

There’s also a video documenting everything she ate for a day, as a prominent member of the online vegan community (the pumpkin soup looks good). The upload already has 30,000 views, so O’Neill certainly hasn’t forsaken all of her digital audience.  

Or her digital enemies! The father of the siblings who disputed O’Neill’s definition of “fake” social media last week even made his own anti-Essena video — “ESSENA ONEILL - The REAL Behind The Image” — on Tuesday. He says the photo in O’Neill’s “Effortless” video was actually taken by his daughter. You can watch the video and more on his YouTube account, Vegsource.