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The hilarious unsexiness of influencing in the wild
I hope everyone has experienced the unique rush of witnessing an influencer at work IRL. It thrills me.
That’s why I was excited to come across the Instagram account @influencersinthewild. The account features submissions from people who spot friends or professional photographers going out of their way to capture “impromptu” photo shoots for the ‘gram. The result is a feed full of fun and dystopian moments of ~influencing~ in its raw form.
You may know the person who runs the account: mega-successful meme creator @Tank.Sinatra.
Tank’s real name is George, but he told me via DM this week that even his mom calls him Tank now. He’s from Long Island, New York, and has more than 2.2 million followers on his main account. He started the @influencersinthewild account only a few weeks ago, and it already has nearly 410,000 followers. Sure, it didn’t hurt that he cross-promoted it on his main page, but George said he was shocked by the rapid growth. He thinks @influencersinthewild has gained fans so quickly because it’s speaking to something very relatable and satisfying to see in 2020.
“It’s vicarious collective suffering,” he said. “Like, we’re all in on the joke.”
And yes, George is guilty of making a friend take fashionable photos of him in public — I asked. He’s just lucky he’s not been caught yet.
George and I also got into a deeper conversation about how Instagram posts like these (taking photos of people taking photos) might become the new desired kind of content (Is your head in a knot yet? If so, I’ve accomplished my one goal of writing this newsletter).
Will impromptu photo shoots become normalized? Is his account unintentionally encouraging it? Will people now stage behind-the-scenes photos just so his account picks them up?
(By the way, George works for a third-party platform that sources and licenses all of the posts featured on @influencersinthewild.)
George seems to think the fourth wall voyeur and the photos they take might naturally become more socially accepted. “But it’ll never feel normal,” he added.
He seems to also think he’ll be able to sniff out any fakers. But if it’s still funny, he’ll “let it slide.”
Finally, I asked George if we could put red tape around any IRL environments where it is absolutely not OK to influence. He thinks funerals and sacred memorial grounds (like the Holocaust museum) are objective no-nos.
His favorite posts on @influencersinthewild so far are a woman caught taking a photo of another woman inside a jet engine (“Just like...what?” he said) and a woman hilariously moving through a photo shoot in an aquarium. That one made me LOL.
My personal favorite is without a doubt these parents making their young child take a photo of them from the stroller. Like the caption reads, what other reason is there to have children these days?
Until next time — take my photo or literally die trying. That might be too dark, but I hope my editor allows it,
A previous version of this post misidentified who pays users who submit to @influencersinthewild.