By; Muniza Tariq
The impact of Influencers on Instagram
For the longest time, Mona took to social media only on special occasions: Friday outings, weekend cooking, and destination weddings. Then one night everything changed. Unable to sleep, Mona started checking out her Insta page and chanced upon the following suggestion: Life_Is_Good. The Instahandle didn’t ring a bell but the name underneath it did. Anamika ‘Goddess’ Singh used to be her friend in Masters. She used to be a plain Jane, a pushover, a girl who tried so hard to make friends that she hardly had any friends, just people who let her hang out with them out of pity. Mona used to tell her all the time that she, Anamika, needed to take it easy but her words were like water off a duck’s back. As soon as college life ended, so did any connection with Anamika. Checking the time on her phone, Mona realized she hadn’t even thought about Anamika in years. It was 1 am and she was more curious about Anamikathe Goddess than sleepy. So she visited her page and immediately wished she hadn’t.
Anamika ‘Goddess’ Singh
Mental and physical health enthusiast
Anamika’s page was what dreams were made of. She had 10K followers while she was following only 50 people. It hurt because Mona had 190 followers and she was following 210 accounts. But mine is a private account, I mean, you’ve got to be exclusive…She checked out one post then another. And it burnt a little initially then some more and some more. Anamikahadn’t just added Goddess as the middle name, she was living up to it. She had shape-shifted, by the way. Her rectangular body was now made up of two triangles, one inverted over the other, their apexes meeting at her waist. Unable to take in her perfection, Mona scrolled some more and landed on a post from six months ago. The Goddess was also an entrepreneur, had launched her own line of sarongs! It was insufferable. Mona put her phone down, closed her eyes but Anamika’sInsta page was open in her mind like a virus-loaded app one can’t exist.
The next day when Mona left the bed, there was a hint of determination, intent, and a vile force beating in her step. She called in sick, put on her workout clothes – high-waist black joggers, a black racer back vest, set her camera on selfie mode and got a few pictures of herself. Next she changed into a pair of denim shorts and a white tank top, held her long-neglected guitar across her bosom, and got some interesting angles there. Books, plants, and banana chia seeds smoothie came next. After toiling the whole day, she sat down with a cup of coffee and created a new Insta page with a new Instahandle: mindbodyandsoul, which soon became her passion, her obsession, her raison d’être. She attended online classes to increase her followers, organically; posted five times a day, ten times, even.
An open account gave her more freedom to try, to show more skin and muscles, to interact, to be, but thirty days on, she was still stuck with 120 followers, and an average of 40 likes a post. She was doing everything the Instagram Gurus recommended: using 20-25 hashtags a post, posting consistently at a set time, and making her posts interactive but somehow, the magic was missing.
How was the Goddess doing it?
The thought gnawed at Mona, made her bitter with every post the Goddess shared. No, she couldn’t bring herself to follow the Goddess but she checked out her page so frequently, you could call it sick. Since she was busy keeping an eye on her rival’s page, she was left with little energy and enthusiasm to create new posts for her page. She started losing her followers and sanity. Instagram became a battlefield on which she was an invisible wounded soldier being assaulted from all sides but couldn’t strike back in defense. Yet, she soldiered on.
One day, while listening to an Instagram influencer go on and on about the power of consistency and never giving up, a thought struck her: what was that one post that madeAnamikaa Goddess? Surely she didn’t strike gold with her very first post. She picked up her phone, and dove deep into Anamika’s page went straight to the first post, which was a silhouette of her meditating on a terrace, facing the rising sun with a gazillion hashtags. A great shot that got her 50 likes, very average and achievable. Like a hound that’s picked up a scent, she moved on to the next post and the next till she stumbled upon the one that seemed to have been her first successful one. Against a white limbo, the background was Anamika’s slender back, more exposed than covered in a psychedelic halter top, the strings of which were being held by her graceful, long fingers with clipped nails. Whether she was tying or untying was up to the viewer to decide. Instead of a title, she had put #Unttie, Goddesses! DM me if you want to know more!
Mona’s first thought was – wrong spelling, dude, but upon studying other posts, she realized ‘unttie’ wasn’t untie misspelt. It was something else, like a code or a secret message, a movement. Reading the messages from her fans didn’t help Mona either. If anything, it frustrated her more to know how much Goddess was revered and loved by women from all over the world!
Thank you @Life_Is_Good! #unttie is my life mantra now! I urge all Goddesses to #unttie today.
Thousands of such comments made Mona all shades of jealous but the one that hurt the most was from her younger sister Meera studying in Australia! She had tagged a bunch of her friends, posted several hearts for the Goddess!
Without wasting a second, Mona dialedMeera—she picked up after several rings— and cut to the chase.
‘Dude! What’s with following lame people on Insta?’
‘Hello, Di! I am well. How are you? And no, you didn’t disturb me,’ Meera managed between yawns.
‘Why are you following Anamika on Insta?’
‘Wait a second. Anamika who?’
‘Anamika Goddess Singh. Does that ring a bell?’
‘Ohhhh…Goddess! Two questions: why aren’t you following her and why are you stalking me?’
‘Meera, I am serious! You don’t even follow me on Insta. No Family on social sites nonsense! But you are following that nobody!’
‘Firstly, check out her page before you call her a nobody! Secondly, how does it concern you!’ Meera was irked and in no mood to mince her words.
‘It concerns me because…’ Mona couldn’t find the right words but tears found their way out of her system. All the pent up frustration started flowing down her eyes. She sobbed hysterically. She gasped, then sniffled in what seemed like an endless loop. Meera was not only alarmed, she was shaken by Mona’s breakdown.
‘Di, it is OK! Just calm down ok! Tell me what happened, OK?
After several minutes of silence, Mona gathered the courage to share what she had been feeling. At the risk of sounding shallow, stupid, jealous, she narrated her sob tale, from the day she spotted Anamika Singh’s account till the moment she checked out her first hit post and the pang she felt in her heart when she realized her very own sister is in her rival’s fan club!
‘It is just Insta, di! It doesn’t make Goddess – sorry – Anamika a better person than you!’
‘I know,’ Mona whispered.
‘And why care about followers? They are just a bunch of unknown people! You can’t care about unknown people liking you. Come on!’
‘Now that you put it that way, I get it,’ Mona sighed, feeling a bit better after the outburst, also surprised at how wise her younger sister had become!
‘Di, I will unfollow her, if that will make you feel better!’
Meera’s words made Mona feel extremely petty. She strictly asked Meera not to unfollow the Goddess, promised that she will not let social sites ruin her peace of mind and hung up. Unusually calm and thoroughly defeated.
The only arguments that ever work for us are our own.
I just don’t have it in me to be an Instagram influencer, Mona told herself every time she felt the urge to check out Anamika’s page. Slowly, she started getting a grip on herself and started posting every now and then. Some of her posts got her 100+ likes, only now it didn’t matter much.
One day, feeling particularly at peace with her 230 followers and herself, she sent a direct message to Anamika‘Goddess’ Singh who replied within five minutes. With lots of exclamation marks and hearts. She, Anamika, was so thrilled to hear from Mona and it was absolutely the best thing that had happened to her that day.
After a brief catch up, Mona slipped in the question that had been lying buried in her heart for so long.
Anamika, you star, you! So, what is this #unttie?
Anamikw wrote:You couldn’t tell? Come on! You used to tell me all the time when we were in college!
Mona couldn’t think of anything. After all, it was years ago and Anamika wasn’t one of her peeps.
With a thumping heart, she watched as Anamika typed away.
#unttie is U need to take it easy! Your words changed my life and a million other lives. You are a Goddess!