Persona O’Neill

Essena O’Neill. When you hear this name now what bell does it ring? I hate that I linked a wikipedia page to her name but honestly, the girl we all thought we knew, has vanished. Essena, in late 2015 ‘quit’ social media due to the persona she created overwhelming her, leaving her feeling isolated and alone. She created an online presence that portrayed her to be always effortlessly happy and healthy not to mention flawlessly beautiful. Essentially, Essena was seen by her audiences to be the ‘perfect’ girl with the ‘perfect’ life that everyone thought was just ‘goals’. This all came unstuck when she decided it just was not her anymore, and so a new persona arose…

Essena showcases the downside of creating an online persona, one that is so far from the truth it was exhausting to keep up. In her series of photos (which are posted below) she highlights that in order to fit into her own fictional ideals she would often not eat and describes her use of social media to be an “addiction”. O’Neill openly admits “I now wish I wasn’t wearing such a mask”. She used social media platforms, especially Instagram completely to her advantage with clever use of paid promotions, editing, hashtags, demonstrating values her followers aspired to etc.  Then, she tore her own persona to shreds…. Makes me wonder, was she really just building a new online face?

Creating an online persona can be a dangerous game, however I believe we all do it to a certain degree. For instance, I know I would never post an unflattering image of myself online or hashtag anything that might paint me as a less than perfect person. With the exception of an experimental Instagram I share with some friends called “theflippedside” where we aim to post snapshots of our real lives. Let’s take a moment to contrast the two.

Obviously the pictures of me between these two accounts vary greatly! The persona I project on my own Instagram is that of a very happy young woman with great friends and family; a social being. The other account is reality, I am not ashamed to admit I have blemishes, I dropped a smoothie on my foot or that most days I stay in my pyjamas. That certainly doesn’t mean I want to post it online though! ‘The flipped side’ highlights that whether we realise we are doing it or not, everyone has an online persona that emphasises the good and omits the average and hides the bad.

(just saying^^)


13 thoughts on “Persona O’Neill

  1. Hi Brittany! This post is fantastic. You’ve used a fantastic example from a world that I really don’t know a lot about and have highlighted how disparate ones online and real-world personas can be. It absolutely challenges the notion that an online persona is in some way a representation of the “true” self, because often the narrative runs a little away from the true person. The personal touch from your own point of view at the end is a great way to wrap up too, although I generally try to avoid it myself. Great work! If you’re into exploring this idea more, the podcast Dude Soup covered this idea this week.

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  2. Hey Brittany! Your post exemplified the idea of an online persona. I remember sitting with my friends at recess at school and trawling through Essena O’Neill’s Instagram when she decided to quit social media, however like you I suspected she was creating a new online face by using her emotional YouTube video to promote her website Let’s Be Game Changers (which now remains completely blank). Essena also stated she wanted to write a satirical book about her experiences becoming social media famous, an idea that just creates a different mask. Check out this Time article where Essena had spoken for the first time since she had reedited her Instagram captions and her YouTube channel

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  3. Great Post! I think you have really developed your idea well. Through your use of personal experience and through the use of a popular figure. I tend to agree with your points that maybe she again is just creating another online persona, just for a different purpose. I like your incorporation of hyperlinks (adda context and depth) and your gif at the end is good. I also like how you used the video at the start to bring attention from the start, it also gives the post good context. My only suggestions would be to cut down the word count a little but by cutting out some of the explanation and just focus on your opinion. I think the video is in itself enough explanation of what is going on so probably doesn’t need all that much else.

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  4. Hi Brittany! The example was perfect, it shows both sides of the online persona.
    ”Makes me wonder, was she really just building a new online face?”- Super interesting point, I’d never looked at Essena’s story with that perspective. Was she trying to expose the truth, or attempting to change her online persona to appear more relatable? Your personal example reminds me of this:

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  5. Hey lovely! I love this post! It is really well structured and all the content is there! The use of photos and hyperlinking is really helpful. Have you seen this video of Essena’s? ( It really helped me gain an understanding of what this weeks blog topic really means! I remember all the fuss about what Essena did, and it was so frowned upon because having social media as a job was still fairly new! But now, i completely stand by her and understand what she did! Sometimes i even feel like my online persona is more important than it really is! Being real on social media and taking a break every once in a while has really helped me to not only find myself and also not worry about what i can read through a screen! Keep up the good work! xxx

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  6. Hi Brittany,
    Your blog post, “Persona O’Neill”, was very concise and detailed how one’s online persona may be very different to that of their real life personality. I love how you incorporated an example (Essena O’Neill) throughout the entirety of your blog post. This further enhances a reader’s understanding of how one’s online persona may be adjusted due to the type of media platform they are using. The following source,, highlights this notion and focuses on the the issue, “Are we really presenting who we are or are we presenting a hyper-idealistic version of ourselves?”. This article may be of interest to you as it implicitly discusses how one’s online persona (“ideal self) may dramatically differ from one’s real persona (“real self”). Additionally, your incorporation of various visual examples, such as a YouTube video, photo collage and meme, assists in emphasising the topic you are discussing, along with engaging the reader to learn more about online persona’s and the effects of creating a “fake” identity. I would also recommend referencing one of the weekly materials associated to the week’s lecture, this well help to increase understanding amongst reader’s through various other sources. Overall, your blog post was very well – written and engaging, further alluding to the argument surrounding whether or not social media creates a “false sense of self”.


  7. Hey! This is a great example and way to true for those that stay online and editing their life way too much. Lets be honest I did snapchat coffee today and put it on my story but what this girl did was on a whole other level. I really admire how she handled it herself and addressed those around her that it isn’t okay to only portray the god side of yourself. Great post!


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