6 Stories That Prove Instagram Influencers Are The Worst
It's easy to make fun of the often-absurd world of Instagram influencers. But in their defense, it's a gig with a razor-thin line between "lavished with love, praise, and money by millions" and "Three people liked the photo of your nails that you took alone in your cold, dark apartment." It's a real struggle to make it. And that struggle sometimes goes to strange, horrifying places.
Over A Thousand People Are On A Waitlist To Use An "Instagram Apartment"
Many influencers live in New York City, because even in an age of instant global communication, you need to be situated in a hub of fashion if you really want your career as BooyahBraBabe to be taken seriously. But it doesn't matter how glamorously you've dressed yourself up for the cameras if your photos are obviously being taken in the dingy kitchen of your cramped studio apartment. Renting hotel rooms gets expensive, and you can only sneak photos in department stores so many times before security starts to get annoyed, so Instagram studios have started popping up around town.
That's not inherently any weirder than running a photography studio, but an Instagrammer's verisimilitude can be ruined in a hurry when followers notice that their lazy Sunday morning lounging is taking place on the same sofa that their bitter rival was lying on last week. Take the 2,400 square foot, $15,000 a month SoHo penthouse that's carefully decorated to look like someone lives a luxurious life inside, even though it sits empty every night.
The owners are paid by brands to borrow the space, and they in turn invite influencers to show off their products in an environment designed solely to be photogenic. The bed's frame was picked because it's easy to have in the shot or out of it, and the books lying around are all what hip people say they've read to sound smart.
"No biggie; just sitting around with my golden flatware, reading Infinite Jest in my underwear. #NotFake #Believable"
Look at that pose. It just screams "I definitely know what reading is and how to do it, because I do it every day from the comfort of this, my bed." But wait, what's this?
A cupcake with no bites taken and a plate with no crumbs. Clearly, we caught her right in the middle of breakfast.
As fun as it is to imagine that influencers are sneaking into each other's beds to eat cupcakes while reading their books, using their coffee cups, and striking their totally convincing "Look at how relaxed I am, fellow humans" poses, these shots are all fake as hell, and not even trying to be otherwise. Now, makeup and clothing ads of yesteryear weren't exactly famous for their commitment to truth, but remember that when you see an inspirational quote like this ...
... the person trying to teach you something is presenting a reality that no human actually experiences. So as inspired as we get by seeing a strategically placed "The Future is Female" sign in a post about how an easy-to-buy $450 sundress is great for a casual brunch, now seems like a good time to remind you that New York City has a massive housing crisis. Nice rose gold detailing in this place, though!
An Instagram Model Decided It Would Be A Good Idea To Film Herself Throwing A Chair Off An Airbnb 45 Stories Up
Let's go straight to the nerve-wracking GIF!
That's Marcella Zoia, and that's the good city of Toronto having a chair flung at it like it's in the late stages of a Wall Street drama meltdown. Oh, but that clip doesn't show the whole context. You see, she uh, also threw a second chair, and some other miscellaneous crap.
Zoia was charged with endangering life, endangering property, and being a common nuisance, the last of which could arguably be applied to every influencer. While she awaits trial, she's been ordered to live with her mother and avoid contact with the four people who were with her, because it turns out there were four other people on the scene, and none of them pointed out "Holy shit, this could kill someone."
So what the hell was she thinking? That remains unclear, although Zoia's lawyer has attributed the incident to peer pressure and a momentary lapse in judgement. And hey, who hasn't been pressured to do something stupid by their friends? Maybe the stress of her young career was getting to her. We all make mistakes, right?
Take a moment to bask in the glow of that attempt to see the best in someone, because it's about to be, well, thrown out the window. Zoia appears to be basking in the attention the stunt gave her, and her follower count shot from 4,000 up to 14,000. Remember, the internet doesn't really care how you get attention, as long as you are always, always getting it.
Instagram's Boiling Water Challenge Sent People To The Hospital
Remember the latest polar vortex, or as it's known in Canada, winter? There's not a lot to do for fun during a long stretch of bitter cold and darkness, especially once you run out of rum. So social media came up with the "Boiling Water Challenge," even though the true modern social media challenge is to just do something online without making it sound like you need to prove yourself in some fierce gladiatorial struggle. Despite having the kind of sarcastic name a frustrated mother would impart when telling her family to make their own damn spaghetti for once, the Boiling Water Challenge consists of boiling a pot of water, then trudging outside to throw it into super cold air, whereupon it freezes into snow.
It's also the perfect tie-in for influencers with marketing deals for burn salve.
It looks pretty cool, and it's hashtag-friendly. But when it's not done right, it becomes the Oh God, We Need To Immediately Find The Nearest Hospital Challenge. At least eight people have discovered this after they accidentally splashed boiling water on themselves or loved ones. Patients ranging in age from 53 to, ugh, three have been treated for burns on their hands, arms, faces, and feet. Sometimes a gust of wind comes out of nowhere, sometimes an unsupervised child wanders too close, and sometimes people who feel the need to throw boiling water into the air for social media attention have the sort of general ineptitude that you'd expect.
#Scalding, #BurnWard, and #AAAHHHHH seem notably absent.
So as great as it might be for your brand to remind your followers of elementary school science, emergency room doctors who definitely have better things to do with their time are encouraging people to not throw boiling water around, even though their favorite influencer made it look neat. Besides, you also have far more important things to do, like continuing your crucial Read Cracked Challenge.
Multiple Influencer "Workshops" Have Failed Spectacularly
Influencers exist to provide lifestyle porn. We know that their lives aren't really like what we see on their feeds, but shit, wouldn't it be nice to live like that? Even if it's not 100 percent accurate, they must be doing something right to find themselves the subjects of intense adoration while they lounge around on all those beaches and penthouse patios. So when they offer workshops on how to be more confident or enhance your creative output or use filters more effectively or whatever the fuck, their fans don't see the harm in paying to attend. Maybe they'll learn something! Whatever the case, they get to spend a few precious hours inside the fantasy, right? But the fantasy collapses if the influencer is revealed to be greedy, naive, and generally kind of terrible.
That takes us to the saga of Caroline Calloway. As hilariously documented by writer Kayleigh Donaldson, Calloway decided to charge $165 for tickets to a touring seminar on how to "Be Yourself." She wouldn't even be present for the first hour, and that was somehow the best part. Calloway raked in at least $30,000, but put out a call for a photographer and videographer who were willing to work for free because, and this is an actual quote, "omfg supplies are EXPENSIVE." When people pointed out how sleazy that was, she made herself out to be a poor, put-upon event planner.
A week before the tour launched, and long after the tickets were sold, Calloway was still looking for venues. On Day 1 of the tour in New York City, she abruptly cancelled promises of food and handwritten keepsakes. Then she announced that the seminars scheduled for other cities would also be in NYC. Ticketholders would just have to pony up for airfare on short notice. It was painfully obvious that she didn't want to pay to fly to cities she hadn't secured venues in, but her stated reasoning was that everyone told her the NYC venue was "perfect," and she now couldn't imagine holding her workshop anywhere else, which was technically true.
And the saddest detail of all, somehow, is that she promised every attendee an orchid "crown," then only produced a single flower that people could clip in their hair for selfie ... before returning for the next person to use.
The rest of the non-touring tour shockingly ended up being canceled. It's difficult to tell how much was a scam and how much was born from Calloway's extremely Instagram-friendly attitude of believing that good intentions and the right attitude can accomplish anything right up until any work is involved. But either way, hundreds of hopeful young women were taken advantage of, while Calloway got to write the whole thing off as a proud learning experience. You can't let the haters drag you down with cruel comments like "Hey, maybe learn to plan events?"
This is far from the only scam that Instagram's "Believe in yourself to the point of denying reality" mantra has produced. Aggie Lal, who has 884,000 followers, charged $500 for a 12-week online "Master Class" in social media. She tried to recruit students to sell the class like it was a pyramid scheme, and then she stopped releasing content, claiming she had bad WiFi access while still uploading to her Instagram page. Then, after having made an estimated $225,000, she tried to screw people out of refunds.
Somehow "Grab the suckers' money and never let go" failed to make the list.
Lal eventually offered a half-assed apology, but like Calloway, she presented herself as the real victim who was being cruelly punished for her ambition. Don't the naysayers with their boring, risk-free worldview of "Deliver what you promised" know what it's like to gamble on an incredible vision? Failing spectacularly on Instagram gets you the same money with less effort and arguably more free attention, so the odd scam is just good business.
A Whole Bunch Of Influencers Used California Wildfire Hashtags For Shameless Self-Promotion
Brands are generally smart enough to avoid piggybacking off of human misery. Crayola might feel the need to offer their condolences to, say, the victims of a devastating wildfire, but they won't add in a reminder that burnt sienna is a versatile color capable of capturing all the destructive horror. But if you're an influencer who lacks self-awareness and/or a soul, a crisis is merely another opportunity to sell yourself. Because you need to be selling yourself all the goddamn time.
And so, during the 2018 California wildfires, Instagram hashtags related to the disaster were flooded with self-promotion. Artist Jeremy Kost posted a picture of a nude man looking like he was bummed out over losing his Blu-ray of the Entourage movie, and this was somehow the most tasteful example.
One Rhodes Scholar sent the touching message "My heart with them Malibu <3 :(" while also working in #sixpack and #vacation.
Raline Shah sent her 5.9 million followers "Sad to hear about the fires in Malibu and praying for safety and strength for the firefighters battling it out there. We never know what life brings us and every happy moment is a blessing in itself" with a picture that looks like it should be accompanied by "Have a GR8 spring break!!"
115,000 likes. More than a hundred thousand people thought this was a fitting tribute. Looking good, humanity.
Fabfitfunnygirl, failing to demonstrate at least two of those traits, took the opportunity to pitch her shitty overpriced protein shakes, which are sold by a multilevel marketing pyramid scheme. What a touching half-assed charitable effort that happened to be announced by a glamour shot of the product.
Don't make the mistake of being impressed by the donation, either. The alleged $300 value didn't garner a single bid.
Kimberly Williams-Paisley, an "advocate," sent love and prayers while offering baby's first observations on anxiety, because nothing helps you get over the loss of your home or livelihood like briefly meditating in the backyard that you no longer have.
We couldn't check the edit history, but we assume the original caption was "Napping in the yard."
And finally, one model, taking advantage of the fact that Malibu was trending as a geotag, simply posted a pinup shot. Hey, "Malibu" and "hot" were showing great metrics; surely no further investigation was needed.
"I wanted the viewers, but '#PAYATTENTIONTOME!' seemed a little too direct."
There were so many more, each stupider than the last. The Instagram economy is built around getting free marketing by somehow working your way into whatever's trending, no matter how unrelated. And when your entire career is built around awkwardly shoving yourself into every possible moment, you either forget to turn it off or you no longer even see why you'd need to. And so people looking for information on the wildfires were met with a mix of brutal devastation and influencers showing off their glamorous lifestyles. This is a dystopia far stupider than any science fiction writer could have ever predicted.
Kendall Jenner Teased A "Raw" And "Moving" Personal Announcement Which Turned Out To Be An Ad For Acne Cream
Kendall "We can solve racism with Pepsi" Jenner has 27.5 million followers, and is the world's highest-paid model. But it's easy to see how she can inspire so many people. After all, she hasn't forgotten her humble beginnings as a high-profile celebrity scion. In a 30-second video teasing some kind of personal announcement, Kendall said, with genuine emotion in her voice, "When I was 14 I couldn't reach as many people as I can now. Now that I'm 22 and I have this whole thing behind me, I can speak to so many people and be like: I can help you, and it's OK. I experience it, and I'm very normal. And I understand you. I can connect with you, and try and help."
This seems like a lot of backstory for someone we always assumed was conceived in a focus group.
That clip was followed by the message "Connect With Kendall" and a date. Wow, what she going to talk about? Bullying? Mental health? Charity? Whatever it was, her own mother was telling the world that she was being "brave and vulnerable," and that her "raw story" would have a "positive impact" on countless others.
The reveal continued to be built up over the following days. Fans would be "moved," and there were vague hashtags like #changetheconversation, #authenticity, #shareyourstory, and #bethechange. Speculation grew. Was Jenner coming out about an eating disorder? About her sexuality? About a sexual assault? Holy shit, had Kendall Jenner solved the Israel-Palestine conflict?
And then finally, the big day came. Jenner was ... the new face of ProActiv, because their products supposedly helped clear up acne in her youth. Clearly a few zits would render Kendall Jenner an unspeakable monster fit only for having rotten vegetables thrown at her by jeering villagers, so what's more inspirational than shilling for an acne cream that's twice as expensive as other products with the same basic shit in it?
Literal revolutions have been prompted by less arrogance. Have fun following whoever you want, but always remember that lifelong fame breaks your brain in weird ways, and most influencers would happily run you over with their sponsored cars if they thought it would gain them more followers than they lost. Anyway, don't forget to like and subscribe to Cracked!
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