Social media has imploded and online influencers are on the defence after Instagrammer Essena O’Neill’s sensational resignation from her online identity.
Ms O’Neill became an international sensation this week after crying foul on her account, stating many posts were staged, fake and often the result of paid promotions from brands.The 18-year-old model last week posted she was quitting Instagram, writing, “Without realising, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance.”
Her actions have resulted in both praise and eye-rolls from many online users, who say they already have a self-developed sense of scepticism when it comes to Instagram due to the high number of sponsored posts they are aware of.
This morning 24-year-old model Hannah Polites, whose account has almost one million followers and who is often approached by brands to promote their products, posted in defence of her online content saying if she would recommend a product to her friends, she would recommend it to her followers as well.
“I want you to know that I do not promote items that don’t fit my lifestyle or philosophies,” she posted.
Polites also commented on her recent trip to Europe, during which she was accused of being paid to stay in luxury hotels.
“This is a complete lie,” she wrote. “I saved up for this trip for a very LONG time… [I] turned down ALOT (sic) of offers for advertisement.
“I think Instagram is a great platform to share our ideas, creative abilities and our favourite products and it’s sad that people obviously take advantage of our power.”
Online fitness guru Kayla Itsines, who has almost four million followers on Instagram, also weighed in on the debate urging social media users to not strive towards the lives they see online.
“Don’t strive to live like, or be like, one person on social media,” she posted yesterday.
“Create your own self. Be honest. Stick to your morals.”
Media personality Erin Holland, who has over 150,000 Instagram followers, told The Newsroom she believes this is an example of a lack of education about the influences of social media has on young people.
“She (O’Neill) is so young and has become consumed with popularity in the online world,” she said.
“We all have moments of despair with the industry we choose to live in… I just hope she realises that the online world lives forever.”
Ms O’Neill has since created a “Support Me” page on her new website “Let’s be game changers,” after quitting promotional posts has left her unable to afford her rent. “I need money to cover the basics. If you get something from what I’m doing, pay what it’s worth to you,” she wrote.
Ironically, Ms O’Neill’s Instagram follower count has since risen to almost 900,000 – Amber Greasley.