#Instafamous: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Remember the good old days when celebrities were people who had actually contributed something to society, be it music, acting or just being really bloody good at sports? Heck, if you asked me who my favourite celebrity was when I was young, I would have straight up said Daniel Radcliffe. I recently asked my baby cousin who her favourite celebrity was and she said Team 10 (I know, shook) followed by Danielle Bregoli. Danielle. Bregoli.

Now, if for some reason you don’t know who Danielle Bregoli is, hold on. You are about to be introduced to a whole new (scary) world of the #instafamous.

I love Instagram. It’s my number one most used app on my phone. So don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy a bit of endless scrolling and stalking (more than I’d like to admit really), but if you think the Kardashians don’t deserve to be famous, wait until you see this.

The emergence of new digital platforms has overturned the conventions of what constitutes fame, with social media ‘it’ crowds now steering trends and setting agendas through their huge followings on platforms such as Instagram. Although many social media influencers seem to have particular talents such as Huda Kattan – Aka Huda Beauty – and James Charles with makeup or even our own fitness model Tammy Hembrow, there are some really dumb reasons why people are instafamous.

Howbow Dah?

Let’s get back to Danielle, or as you might know her, ‘the catch me outside girl. With over 15 million followers on Instagram at just the age of 15, Danielle Bregoli is literally famous for her outrageous behaviour and asking the audience of the Dr Phil show to “cash me ousside, how bow dah?” Here’s the English translation for anyone wondering: “catch me outside, how about that?”.

And through the power vested in memes, Danielle Bregoli became a viral sensation. Albeit, she has since launched her own career in the rap game under the name Bhad Bhabie (is it bad that I actually like her stuff?), her estimated net worth as of 2018 is $1.2 million. How. Bow. Dah.

STOP HATIN’

As if that wasn’t enough, take a look at 17-year-old Instagram star Woah Vicky (Victoria Waldrip), who rose to fame by claiming to be black (spoiler – she’s white).

Although her Instagram account has previously been removed and her current profile only shows seven posts, typical controversial Woah Vicky content usually involves her exaggerated ‘blaccent’ (I googled it, it’s a thing) about how ya’ll need to “stop hatin’” and could start makin’ money like her too.

START WORRYIN’?

So does Woah Vicky have a point? Should we stop hatin’? Or should we start worryin’? With industry research highlighting younger generations are now looking to social media in search of idols, we really need to consider the impact this idolisation will have. Are the Danielle Bregolis or Woah Vickys of the world the right role models for youth?

TL;DR: No

Studies show the increased susceptibility to peer influence of younger generations, and with the poor or downright stupid actions of peers like Danielle Bregoli, Woah Vicky, Beverly Hills Brat (her name gives everything away) and even Jake and Logan Paul (do I really need to explain anything here?) glorified by millions, the negative influences are almost too obvious. From mimicking bad behaviour to actually making us stupider, the obsession with social media stars can only be detrimental.

Scarily enough, Instagram now ranks ahead of being an MD in career aspirations, with survey research revealing that more than a quarter of millennials would quit their job in exchange for fame. And with actual, legitimate studies showing that you can make more money from fame after ‘competing’ (I use that so loosely) on shows like Love Island than from going to university, I don’t blame them.

While this data is probably more a reflection of where we are headed as a whole in terms of employment figures (but that’s another article), it does shed some light on millennials’ current obsession with social media and the future of celebrity role models.

Now what?

So maybe these ‘celebrities’ will eventually fade away into web obscurity (Remember Damn, Daniel? Yeah, me neither), but there will surely be another controversial person to take their place. Well buckle up, because apparently the next big thing is not in fact a person, but artificial intelligence supermodels.

Meet the fictional ‘It girl’, Miquela, an AI robot with over 1.3 million followers (why does a robot have more followers than me?) and Shudu, the world’s first digitally created supermodel followed by more than 136,000 people, both known for their black rights advocacy.

With psychologists showing uncertainty about the impact such role models could have, particularly in the realm of what is real and what is fake, I’m now torn between ‘bad’ role models who are at least real and ‘good’ role models who are just plain fake.

What a mess.

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