The organisation to whom I signed the hours between 9 and 5 of every work day was going to have a big event and decided to use Instagram influencers for the publicity. I was on the team tasked with the responsibility of selecting the influencers. A couple of names were suggested, and we had to monitor them over for a while to see if they fit our brand and could deliver on our objectives. So, I clicked the follow button for a few guys, but there was one of them I found interesting. He came off as very natural to me; his skits very relatable and his personality amiable. Before long I was no longer observing him as a duty, I actually enjoyed and anticipated his content. I became a fan.
From his posts, I came to know where he schooled, his wife’s name, their child’s name, when they got married, why they got married, where they met, what she does, when they had their child, etc. I could hold a conversation about him, I had more than enough information and his posts were a regular part of my day.
Of course, I ensured he was one of the influencers signed up. Not only because I thought he was great for the job, but also because somewhere in my head, we were familiar, maybe even friends. I felt like I knew him.
Just before the event, a pre-event meeting was called, and all influencers were invited. I went into that meeting feeling like I was going to meet a friend. To my mind, we were going to shake hands and easily get into a conversation. There were a million and one things I could ask him about. We were chum like that, dude is my guy!
You cannot imagine my shock when I excitedly said hello and his reply was polite, but distant. I wanted to scream: guy, don’t you know me? How is so and so, has she taken her first steps? What of your wife, did she find that recipe she was looking for the other day? What zone of the church do you attend? Do you know so and so, you were contemporaries at uni. I liked that your skit, the one on…But he had turned to someone else, serving his polite hellos to everyone in the room, even those who were only just discovering his name at that meeting. That’s when it hit me. This guy does not know me. I am only one of his over 500,000 followers. Everywhere he goes, he meets at least 20 of me, people who admire his work and like him for it. He does not even know my name; how would he know that over half of my data budget is expended on his videos? How would he know that I follow him everywhere, even on Youtube? How would he know I tried that routine his wife mentioned the other day? As far as he is concerned, I belong to a very large pool of people he defines in just one word- fans.
It was utterly disappointing but also eye opening. Social media is indeed bringing the world together, we all feel so close and chummy, buy are we really? In reality, I can’t blame Mr Influencer, he’s just a young man trying to make a living. How many people would he remember of the tons he has to relate with every day? So, when you run into your favourite celebrity at the mall and he is not keen on pictures or hardly even sends a smile your way. Remember that he is human, just as you are and could be having a really bad day. Plus, truth is, he really doesn’t know you, you are one of the people he has to act nice towards as part of his job and a smile and wave does it just fine. It is also why you cannot structure your life based on someone’s Instagram feed. He is doing a job, this is your life!
There is much more to friendship and closeness than hitting the follow, like or share button. That is why it bothers me when my online community who only see the photographed on fleek version of me steal my attention from my actual friends, the ones who love me on my bad hair days, the ones I greet with such sweet endearments like ‘goat, cow etc’. The ones I tell to ‘get out’ and they understand that I actually mean ‘stay with me’. That is why the people I follow and like on social media should not replace quality time with my spouse. We should have conversations where we are staring at each other and not our phone screens and I should not put pressure on my children to be like someone’s child I saw online. This here is real life, my life, and certain things matter more than others. The earlier I find the things that matter and focus on them, the better for me.
Ever had a disappointing real-life encounter with a celebrity you follow? Please share your story in the comment box, let’s have a good time.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime