'I'm terrified': Teen influencer's revelation after social media backflip

An Australian Instagram model who went viral for quitting social media in 2015 is back and says she is ‘terrified’.

Essena O’Neill, from Queensland, famously abandoned social media in 2015, when she was 19-years-old, when she had more than 580,000 Instagram followers and 200,000 subscribers on Youtube.

Recently she reached out to American Youtuber Tiffany Ferguson, who has a series called ‘Internet Analysis’.

Essena O'Neill quit social media in 2015, denouncing the platforms where she had huge followings and starting a website instead. Source: Youtube.

Ms Ferguson, in a 35-minute video, explained the Australian teenager had gone viral for admitting her posts were ‘fake’ or very staged.

“Her whole point was ‘social media is not real life’,” Ms Ferguson, known on Youtube as ‘tiffanyferg’, said at the start of the video.

Ms O’Neill is now 23 years old and is back on social media. She already has more that 4,200 followers on Instagram.

“So coming back online... I'm terrified!” Ms O’Neill said on Instagram, in a post thanking Ms Ferguson, which marks her return to social media.

According to Ms Ferguson, Ms O’Neill reached out to her through private message on Twitter.

Ms O’Neill opened up in the interview, admitting the last four years hadn’t been great and that she had struggled, explaining she had to work minimum wage jobs and is now on her third attempt of completing a degree.

When asked why she quit social media altogether, rather than remaining on the platforms as a “positive influence”, Ms O’Neill said she was “lost” and that she “struggled with fame”.

“I quit because I wasn’t happy, it wasn’t making me happy,” Ms O’Neill said, adding the obsession with looking a certain way was “big” for her.

When asked by Ms Ferguson on how she feels about social media now, she said social media today looks a lot different to what it did when she quit, adding she was excited.

‘Lets Be Game Changes’ donations not refunded

In the interview Ms O’Neill addressed the issue of her taking money from people who donated to her, when launched the website ‘Lets Be Game Changers’.

Once she quit social media, Ms O’Neill didn’t take any sponsorships and didn’t have any advertising on the site, so she asked people to donate money.

Essena O'Neill denounced social media in 2015 and before deleting her accounts, edited her Instagram captions to be more realistic. Source: Instagram.

Ms O’Neill reportedly received over $10,000 in donations. However, after a few months she shut down the site and people never received a refund.

“I felt like I couldn’t create content, I just lost all trust in who I was and what I was doing,” Ms O’Neill said of the closure of her website.

“I donated about half of it to random charities. I just wanted to do the right thing. Looking back I wish I would have just figured out how to refund. I just wanted it to be over.”

Ms O’Neill said social media was never really a “social thing” for her, as she mainly used it to voice her opinions and for work.

“I just didn’t use it for friends and family that much,” she told Ms Ferguson, who asked whether or not she had private social media accounts after she “quit” social media.

Essena O'Neill, above, reached out to Youtuber Tiffany Ferguson, who has a series 'Internet Analysis'. The interview marks Ms O'Neill's return to social media. Source: Youtube - Tiffany Ferguson.

Ms O’Neill said she completely quit social media, as she really wanted to distance herself. However, she said she misses the money the most.

“Working minimum wage and then getting paid to promote a cute vegan product, it’s a different life,” she said.

Despite all the negative things that came out of her social media influence, Ms O’Neill said she did believe she had a unique following.

“There was something so special about what I had online,” she said.

“I just want it again.”

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