The ugly truth behind the beautiful people with more followers than friends.
I will never forget the day that Hrithik Roshan came to my school. No, it’s not because I’m a huge fan of his acting, or because of his magazine acclaimed ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ status, or even his bravery, (I mean, he stood next to Jadoo through an entire movie without getting creeped out, the man deserves an award). It’s because that was the day I realized that even if I had Brad Pitt standing in front of me, I could never be star struck.
…Until I downloaded Instagram. I was one of the late-bloomers; I succumbed to peer pressure when people were around 30 posts down and around 300 followers up, so clearly I was at a disadvantage. I couldn’t understand what the hype was - looking at people I see every day uploading selfies. Then one fine day, at my peak of boredom, I stumbled across the ‘Discover’ page. That’s when I realized I had struck gold.
My super-sleuth stalking skills were no longer limited to the 400 people I followed. A whole new world had opened up for me - a world of Insta-celebrities. I’m not talking about your garden-variety Kardashian type celebs; I’m talking about people like you and me, who had acquired fame through well-edited, provocative pictures, shot in strategic locations (with open profiles, of course). Let’s face it; they were ordinary teenagers, who had acquired fame overnight because they were either good looking or rich. Or both. And they weren’t afraid to flaunt it.
Insta-celeb with over 350,000 followers! Image source: Instagram.com
The number of people I followed immediately shot up by a couple of hundred, as I got immersed in the routines of these faux-celebs. They were documenting every moment of their lives, and people like me were lapping it up. Breakups, hookups, gym routines, newly bought lingerie - they posted around 5 times a day. To a rookie like me, those numbers were unheard of.
With followings of over 300000 people on Instagram, it was no surprise when fan clubs emerged - fan clubs specifically devoted to worshipping the Insta -famous. People no longer wanted to put the Paris Hiltons of the world on a pedestal. No, they wanted people they could identify with, people who they could potentially bump into at a club, and that’s exactly what they got.
More fan clubs than I have friends. Image source: Instagram.com
One weekend on a usual night out, I spotted someone who looked vaguely familiar. Before I knew it, I felt my heart racing. No words came out of my mouth, as I frantically tapped a friend of mine and just pointed, dumbfounded. There stood the girl who occupied the top spot in my search bar. I had seen this girl in her underclothes, I had seen a video of her making out with another girl, and I had seen her in a catfight. For people like me, who lead a relatively boring life, seeing these people in the flesh was… exciting. I finally knew what it felt like to be star struck. I was one of them.
Close to 400,000 followers, she occupies the top spot on my search bar. Image source:Instagram.com
It got even more unreal when the fan-meets started. Yes, the Insta-famous began to organize events. Groups of squealing girls would sit for hours at a local Starbucks, in the hope of getting a singular picture with them which they could upload to Instagram (what a shocker), in order to gain more followers themselves! Welcome to the vicious cycle of Instagram, where people made famous by Instagram help other not-so-famous people become famous by association… on Instagram.
Fan girl moment. Image source: Instagram.com
After a point their lives became more entertaining than reality television. Public fights, kleptomaniacs, social climbers, cheating scandals, all of it came out into the open. Move over Big Boss, ‘The Real Rich Kids of Instagram’ were here. Why would anyone be interested in Ranbir-Ranveer drama on the news, when they can watch a showdown between two real-life ‘celebrities’, in person? Oh and of course, the war of words between their respective devoted fan clubs.
After months of some intensive stalking, I was unexpectedly invited to one of these high profile parties. Let’s just say, I went, observed, analyzed, came home, and ‘unfollowed’. The glamour of their lives was limited to my phone screen, and devoid of their perfect selfie-lighting and social media safety net. They were nothing but caked-up girls stirring up drama, and boys in a bicep-flexing contest, consuming equal amounts of protein shake and alcohol. They weren’t friends, but parasites, feeding off each other’s virtual popularity.
Thoroughly unimpressed, I extracted myself from the perfectly constructed world of fan meets and fake friends, and dove straight back into the realm of cat videos and food posts. I had done it. I had finally broken free from the vicious cycle of Instagram.
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By Tina Karnani
Cover photo credit: diaryofafitmommy.com