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    I Acted Like Zac Efron On Instagram For A Week And Everyone Thought I Hung Out With The Rock

    I owe an apology to my followers and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

    Hello. Unless you're just waking up from a 15-year coma (in which case, welcome back, and thanks for making your first stop this BuzzFeed post) you know who Zac Efron is: movie star, High School Musical alum, and international thirst trapper.

    MTV / Popsugar

    Like, why does he ever wear a shirt? It's insane.

    Zac has almost 33 million (!!!) followers on Instagram, making him one of the most popular people on the platform. His feed gives you an insight into what it's like to be a celebrity β€” private jets, red carpets, and pictures with fellow stars like The Rock. It all seems very glamorous!

    Then there's me. I have quite a few less followers, and while I live in LA, my life is *slightly* less glamorous. My idea of "luxury" is spending $13 on a salad at Sweetgreen instead of actually cooking dinner.

    But what is it *REALLY* like to be a social media celebrity like Zac? There was only one way to find out: act like him on Instagram for a week, and see what I learned from the experience!


    I had conducted a similar experiment with Justin Bieber's Instagram last year, so I was interested to see what new lessons I would learn in my (failed) quest to act like an international star.

    The Rules:

    β€” I'd pick five Instagram pictures from Zac's feed that best embodied his fast-paced celebrity lifestyle, and recreate them to the best of my ability.

    β€” I'd post my recreations to my own feed over the course of a week, and not post anything else.

    β€” And finally, I wouldn't tell anyone I was conducting this experiment, so as not to taint their reactions. (That's why I didn't copy his captions. I didn't want to give away the surprise.)

    The Hiking Selfie (complete with mustache):

    Instagram: @samstryker

    My version: Listen, I think I got *MOST* of this picture right (although I'm not claiming that my pecs are anywhere as glorious as Zac's by any means). But I prepared for this picture by trying to grow out my "mustache" for a few days. Suffice to say, my facial hair flopped harder than We Are Your Friends at the box office. I simply cannot grow a macho 'stache like Zac.

    What it took to get this shot: This was probably the easiest shot to nab, since all I had to do was hike for about an hour or so at Runyon in Hollywood. However, the only preparation I had to complete was growing my facial hair out for a few days. As you can tell, my execution was lacking.

    The lesson I learned: Growing facial hair like a movie star is not my strong suit.

    The GQ Editorial:

    Macey J. Foronda / BuzzFeed / Via Instagram: @samstryker

    My version: I love how this picture turned out β€” I felt like a ~MoDeL~ artfully kicking my leg β€” but it was seriously awkward AF to pose for. Like seriously, how does one end up in this position unless you play soccer or football?! Basically, I learned that movie stars can make ANYTHING look amazing, but it's kind of bizarre to attempt in real life.

    What it took to get this shot: To take this photo, I spent about 15 minutes running in place and kicking my foot into the air until our photographer Macey and I got the perfect shot β€” not an easy feat (or should I say FEET). It probably took at least a dozen takes. It felt not only physically weird, but also mentally awkward β€” there were a few people watching me act like a drunk Rockette!

    The lesson I learned: It's fun to take artsy-fartsy pictures, but you'll feel really silly doing so!

    The Super-Macho Fragrance Ad:

    Macey J Foronda / BuzzFeed / Via Instagram: @samstryker

    My version: Again, I like the *result* of this picture. I look pretty badass, and a lot of people in the comments said I looked like a parkour athlete. But actually, this one was really hard to take: I banged my knee on the railing really hard and my "concentration face" made me look like I was constipated. I definitely didn't SMELL as good as Zac β€” I was sweating up a storm! Finally, I broke one of the rules before posting this picture: I posted a picture from the Women's March, breaking up my flow of Zac-only pictures. But sometimes fighting the patriarchy comes before a BuzzFeed post.

    What it took to get this shot: We found a park in Venice to stand in for Zac's glamorous cityscape. I jumped over a railing probably about 10 times until we got a shot where my face didn't look like I was pooping. Also, as I mentioned, I banged my leg pretty hard one time. We also had to FLIP the image because I wasn't able to jump the same side as Zac did. Magic!

    The lesson I learned: Save the action moves for a real movie star. Also, jump higher next time.

    The Exotic Vacation Shot:

    Macey J Foronda / BuzzFeed / Via Instagram: @samstryker

    My version: My experience went slightly differently than Zac's. To be sure, I was meditating β€” but more so on how badly I had to pee. Instead of a wooden panel, I was avoiding sitting on a few pieces of trash (this was Venice Beach, after all). And finally, I was most grateful of all that a seagull didn't poop on me. Altogether, not quite as glamorous!

    What it took to get this shot: This was pretty straightforward: All we had to do was drive across the city of LA (should be an Olympic sport), find a parking spot in Venice (another Olympic sport), and find a spot on the beach where there wasn't *too* much trash or crazy surfers (yes, another Olympic sport). Then I sat down and took the shot. Easy, right?

    The lesson I learned: You can FAKE a lifestyle on Instagram, but it won't make you feel any more glamorous in real life.

    The Picture With The Rock:

    Macey J Foronda / BuzzFeed / Via Instagram: @samstryker

    My version: I couldn't quite figure out how to recreate this picture. First, I was going to have one of my BuzzFeed friends stand in for The Rock. Then I thought I might find someone at Muscle Beach in Venice who could replace him. But ultimately, you can't replace the real thing β€” so I decided to have Macey, our photographer, photoshop him in, thinking that most people would realize I *hadn't* actually met The Rock and it was just a joke. I decided to post this one last, since the jig would be up. Alas, that was not the case. Most of the commenters were fooled, and I had a TON of people asking me if I had actually met The Rock and what he's like.

    Seriously, I got like 10 messages exactly like this one:

    Sam Stryker

    At first I thought it was kind of funny, but then I actually felt kind of bad. I didn't want to reveal in the comments that it was staged, because that would ruin my entire post. But I didn't like duping people! I'm sure there's some lesson to be learned in here about the pitfalls of social media, and how you shouldn't buy into everything that the people you follow are posting, but my main takeaway is that I probably need to meet The Rock ASAP to make it up to all my friends. So Mr. Rock (IDK what people call you...), if you're reading this, let me know when works for you. My schedule is clear!

    What it took to get this shot: My part of the picture was pretty easy β€” replicate Zac's pose on the beach (this was our fourth picture in Venice) and pretend like I was leaning on The Rock (to be fair, I did almost fall over since I didn't have anything real to lean on). Then our photo team magically photoshopped The Rock in. All in all, just another ordinary day at BuzzFeed!

    The lesson I learned: Obviously, don't believe everything you see on social media. And on that note, people will believe anything online!

    Final Thoughts:

    β€” I'm still not rich. And I'm still not famous.

    β€” It takes a lot of time and effort to get the perfect shot, particularly if you're not a movie star. That being said, you can pretend to be someone different online than who you are in real life. But you will only SEEM that way; you won't really FEEL that different.

    β€” On that note, you probably have heard it a MILLION times, but don't believe everything you see on social media. ESPECIALLY if you think your friend is hanging out with The Rock.

    β€” And finally, I need to work on my mustache game if I ever want a shot at being cast in High School Musical 4.

    If you want to tag along for the rest of my journey to act like an A-lister, you can follow me on Instagram @samstryker.

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