Friends and family of influencers have been anonymously sharing stories about what they're really like behind the scenes — and all I can say is YIKES.
It all started when Reddit user u/superfuncityasked: "IRL friends of social media 'influencers,' what is it like?"
The thread quickly went viral. Here are some of the top-voted responses:
1."I dropped my friend when she started to pursue becoming an influencer. We had been friends for 10 years. Best friends. Then she started acting weird. Wanted me to take photos of her where she looked like she was having more fun than she really was. She would buy an alcoholic beverage, sip one bit of it for a photo of her laughing while holding it, then throw it out and say it was gross and post the photo. I live in a tourist city, so she would come visit me, but she wasn’t visiting ME. She was visiting my tourist city to get good Instagram shots."
2."I know a relatively small-time influencer who is so painful to have a conversation with because they cannot stop talking about all the free stuff they get. 'I'm testing this new thing... which I got for free from [brand].' 'I'm going away this weekend to a suuuuper nice place. For free.' ...At some point I just want to tell them to shut up. It's so obnoxious to constantly talk about how much free shit you get."
3."She hasn’t come to anything I’ve invited her to in five years because she only goes to events that 'further her business.' Regularly says things like, 'We’re all using each other for something.' ... She still reaches out to me multiple times a year and claims I’m one of her best friends, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. I’ve told her as much, but she just says, 'This is my life now, my business comes first and if you can’t accept that, then I guess you’re not a real friend.'"
4."Worst! I dated a guy who had 45K followers. I think he might’ve had illusions of grandeur. All the photos of him in luxury cars, airports, and fancy places were staged. He found a local alley and told everyone he was in Italy."
5."It's annoying AF. One of my buddies is constantly filming everything we do and posting it. ... It dominates everything he does and has severely impacted his personal relationships. He can't keep a GF and it's clearly related to this obsession of his. ... After pretty much kicking him out of my life because I do not want to be continually posted online, we've come to the understanding that when he's about to take a pic or video, he hands me the phone so I'm not in the shot. Works OK for me."
6."I dated one. Not super popular, but followers in the 100k range last time we spoke. I remember a lot of getting ignored and only receiving nice gifts/acts of kindness when they could post about it. Asking me to go to nice places (they didn't drive) only to leave me on a bench somewhere while they took pictures. Huge strain on the relationship, especially when they started to get bigger and there was more demand for content."
7."Friends with a high-profile athlete who is pretty popular on Insta. ... He is always on the phone...never lives in the moment. If we are doing anything fun? Well, it basically didn't happen unless the world knows about it. It's just annoying...I can't imagine living for the approval or satisfaction of others."
8."I know a wannabe influencer. She will reply to her own posts from her husband's account praising herself. Then she will reply to those posts as herself thanking him. It's hilarious, like Inception for Facebook."
9."To be honest, it’s really shit. I feel like I’ve been completely forgotten about and like I don’t matter anymore. I think that’s just some weird misguided jealousy, but it still hurts because I miss talking to my friend."
10."Sad. In the beginning, they started because they got offers from brands because they were so popular on Instagram and it was a lot of fun for them. Now they don’t ever post pictures or videos without a filter. Rarely ever like a picture on the first try, and don’t you dare post any pictures of them without approval. Imagine trying to get a group picture with all of your friends for your birthday but having to take almost 100 shots to get one that your influencer friend is happy with."
12."Got a friend with 75K subscribers on YouTube in a language other than English. It used to be about their weekend getaways with nice drone shots. It was interesting. Then, gradually became about their lives (how interesting /s). She's got her phone/camera out at random moments, which can get annoying. She got pregnant. Baby everything now."
13."Awful. One of my best friends fell real hard into Instagram, and for a few years it was tolerable and understandable, albeit annoying and strange. Everything needed to be documented in specific ways, so lots and lots of photos, even if it took away from the moment. But the strange part was how, when she’d share things, the captions always told a slightly different story than what actually happened. Like just off enough for me and my other friends to say, 'Huh, that has a weird quality to it.'"
14."Exactly as fake and staged as you imagine it to be, the on-camera moments are completely non-genuine. It is, in the end, just an acting/modeling job and not their real personality."
16."My cousin is a moderately successful Instagram model and she absolutely hates it. She hates her fans, finds them all cringey and pathetic, hates the drama and how 'PC' it all is (IRL she's very conservative). Only does it because it's the only way she can make money. She dropped out of school, and endorsing products and taking pictures of herself is the only way she knows how to pay rent."
17."I went on a date with one and it was just frustrating. Pleasant enough girl, but she was on her phone a lot. I had sympathy since it’s her job, but I felt ignored a lot of the time we were together."
18."I have a neighbor who is an influencer. ... She uses her kids, and behind the scenes she's nothing like the happy pictures! She screams at them to smile, and on one occasion said, 'I don’t give a fuck if you don’t like the fucking juice! Just pretend and smile!' It’s all fake and I hate it."
19."If you look at her social media, you'd think she was a supermodel millionaire who goes on tons of trips. She's actually chronically unemployed and has an income of less than $10K/year. Her boyfriend makes about $60K/year which is enough to afford them a very nice three-and-a-half bedroom apartment, and she has tons of props she uses to make each room look different from day to day so it seems like she's always in a new, exotic place. They take two trips a year to fun, tropical places — in which she takes many photos, and posts them as different places throughout the year."
20."So incredibly annoying. I actually ended up cutting her off because everything had to be a photo opportunity. We could never just go out to lunch or see a movie without it turning into a photo shoot. She never did anything with our friend group unless it was 'aesthetic.'"
21."My ex’s sister is an influencer (beauty/makeup) with over a million followers on YouTube. She was so anxious and stressed all the time. Horribly insecure. If she got some backlash or bad comments, she’d be so upset. Was on a lot of anti-anxiety medication. Meanwhile, all her posts are her looking beautiful and traveling, etc. She didn’t have many friends either (that I saw anyway). Just lots of fans."
22."Everything is fake. The attitude, the mannerisms, everything. It sounds stupid until you realize they clear close to seven figures a year. One time, we vacationed with them and when we were out to dinner they said to us, 'One second, we need to go film a bit.' And they went from our friends who are calm and nice to the 'HEY GUYS WE ARE IN THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH OF FRANCE' annoying people everyone loves to hate."
23."My sister has tens of thousands of followers. We used to be best friends in high school and she was my favorite sibling. ... Now I feel like I barely know her. It’s like she’s this shell of the person she used to be. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone who could make me laugh as hard as she used to make me laugh. ... She’s just so obsessed and fake now. It actually makes me really sad."
24."I was best friends with a now-influencer. She’s a genuine person but also lies, if that makes sense? She's very much about empowering women and helping people accept themselves and build their confidence, which is a great platform! However, some of the anecdotes she tells about 'struggling with fitting in' when she was a teen are blatant lies. She was popular and every guy had a crush on her. I don’t want to undermine whatever internal struggle she faced, but when she tells stories about bullying in high school, they’re lies. She’s genuine about wanting to be positive for people, I just wish she did it a bit more honestly."
25."One of my best friends dated a really Insta-famous guy. He invited us to his house for a Christmas party and this is when I realized how fake social media was. The guy didn’t really own the car he paraded on social media. He rented it, took several photos with it, then gave it back. His house was in a different city than he claimed. ... He said he lived in a very rich city but his house was in a more modest place. He asked me to send him the videos I took at the party, posted them, and didn’t even tag me because I 'didn’t have enough followers'? ... Dude has millions of people fooled."
You can find the full thread of responses on Reddit.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.