A model who uses social media for good explains what the viral 19-year-old got wrong about the internet

Jessica Grossman is one of the many social media personalities hitting back at Essena O’Neill, the 19-year-old Instagram model who went viral after quitting social media and pronouncing it “fake.”

Grossman — a Toronto-based digital marketer, actress, and model — runs a website called Uncover Ostomy. The goal of the site is to raise awareness for people with ostomies, and to fight the stigma associated with having an ostomy bag.

She told INSIDER that it would be impossible for her to get her message out without social media.

“I’m trying to spread awareness about something that’s not very widely known, and some people find very gross and off-putting,” she said. “Social media has been the way I’m trying to spread that message.”

Grossman said that O’Neill calling all social media “fake” is an over-generalization that ignores people who use these platforms for good.

“Every day I get someone who’s like, ‘I’m so glad I found your site. I’m so glad you’re showing you can have a life after an ostomy surgery,'” she said.

Earlier this week, O’Neill — who had accumulated half a million followers on Instagram — deleted thousands of photos, vowed to quit social media, and re-captioned several Instagram pictures with the truth behind how they were made. After posting a 17-minute YouTube video in which she called social media stars like herself “fake,” and said her “perfect life” made her “miserable,” other online personalities came out to disagree vehemently.

While Grossman sympathizes with some of what O’Neill is saying, she says the Australian model should step away from the computer for a while and assess what she really wants out of her campaign.

“If she really wanted to quit social media, she should be off the internet,” Grossman said. ” Get off it. Cleanse yourself. Take a vacation. Maybe go somewhere where you don’t have Wifi.”

O’Neill has since deleted her Instagram and YouTube accounts, but still runs a site called and posts videos on Vimeo.

Story by Tony Manfred and editing by Ben Nigh

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