The social media influencing medium has grown exponentially over the past decade. What was once looked upon as a joke for ridicule is now a booming billion-dollar industry. (Now who's laughing?) One thing it proves for certain is that literally anyone can be famous, for absolutely nothing.

Although, to be fair, even content has grown and many of these "influencers" have turned small talent into fortune. In this new form of celebrity you can't help but wonder, as with most celebs, who these individuals are when they turn the camera off. If they turn the camera off, even just for a moment.

Redditor u/superfuncity wanted to hear about the people who have the inside track on the social media "stars" of today by asking... IRL friends of social media "influencers": what is it like?

I can't imagine knowing and intertwining my life with someone who is constantly giving their attention away to literally everyone else but the person in front of them. Relationships, romantic or platonic, personal or business, are hard enough to keep in tact already without extra stress. But when one's entire life in consumed by garnering "likes," what kind of bond are you forging in reality?

Getting Bigger

Red Carpet Star GIF by RegalGiphy

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.


For the business...

She hasn't come to anything I've invited her to in 5 years because she only goes to events that "further her business." Regularly says things like, "we're all using each other for something." Sometimes she texts me the same exact thing word for word over a couple of days, and it's obvious she just copy/pastes the same thing and sends it to all of us and then forgets who she has sent it to.

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."


In the Fire

I'm from a small town and a family vlogger moved here a few years ago. a while back we there was a bad wildfire about 20-30 miles away from us. this fire was particularly bad (people were dying, losing homes, etc) but luckily it was pretty far from us and we weren't in any danger. you could smell the smoke but that was it.

However, this family posted a total clickbait "wE hAd to EvAcUaTe, tHeY tOld us to LeAvE, WiLDfiRE VlOg." this really pissed off everyone who lived here, since they were exploiting and profiting off a lie when people are actually losing everything. they were called out on all their platforms but would delete those comments.


This whole business seems built on the brand. Not a person's identity but their BRAND. I can relate, knowing tons up and coming actors, writers, musicians, etc. We're all told constantly... what's your style? What's your "brand"? How do you sell? Where do you fit? We've only ever had to fashion that brand on paper and present it in proper settings, our leg of the industry has never had to expose it on loop... until now. That sort of constant barrage can certainly influence a person's personal day to day. Depends on who they are really.

"I've come to believe..."

My partner has a little over a million on IG (around half that on her TikTok)

I had expected a lot worse from stories I've heard of in the past (especially on Reddit) but in our situation, it doesn't play that heavily into our day-to-day life as I had anticipated. Sure there are a few photo requirements if we've been invited to visit a hotel or eat at a nice restaurant in exchange for some PR but they're agreed in advance so we go in with a level of expectation - get the necessary photos then just enjoy the experience.

I've come to believe quite strongly that it really does depend on the individual. I've seen plenty of her friends with similar follower numbers obsess over ridiculous levels of detail, whether they look fat, capturing every single thing they do - but it does seem those with smaller numbers (10k to low 100s?) are the most likely to take to the platform with this level of obsession, whereas a lot seem quite relaxed over the million mark because they're considered to already 'have it made.'

She will sometimes use environment filters to adjust lighting and colour, photoshop elements to remove the odd pimple or people in the background but that's really about it. She's got quite solid and grounded self-confidence so very rarely will she modify any of her anatomy given that she's generally very satisfied with the way she looks (and granted she works very hard for it putting in the effort around healthy eating and fitness), again I'll often notice it's her more insecure influencer friends that feel the need to modify or god forbid even use face filters or photoshop away any evidence of fat or wrinkles - which is a great shame because so often they look beautiful until the modifications just eliminate their 'x-factor'.

A lot of the culture is definitely toxic - setting unrealistic expectations for beauty standards, the standard of living, relationships, etc, but I'd say I'm one of the very lucky ones.

We get quite a bit of engagement in the media (I've got a solid business reputation in my home country but it's tiny, whereas where we live in Southeast Asia I'm a total nobody without her). Said media regularly shares our 'pre-wedding' romantic photos and videos, writing articles about how amazingly in love we are, etc (Asian media tends to heavily over-dramatize their writing on the subject of celebrity relationships) however it's been quite refreshing that she's a very straight shooter in interviews - when asked what our relationship is like she's brutally honest. We fight plenty, we get in heated debates, our cultures are so different, English is her second language and I'm very limited in speaking hers so communication requires a LOT of patience and energy, at times we consider is it worth continuing our relationship at all, etc.

I was apprehensive at first about her raw honesty publicly, but her immediate response to me was "As long as we still want to be with each other, why should we care about keeping up a facade to the public? Our relationship is with each other not them, so whether they react positively or not it won't influence our feelings for each other."

And indeed it turned out to be a very positive choice both for the public's reaction, but also for our own relationship in recognizing that we don't have to stick to some imaginary guidelines set by social media all the time, that it's healthiest and actually more popular that we just be ourselves.


That last one was insightful.

How other cultures might feel about influencers isn't necessarily the way influencers are regarded in the West. Fascinating.

Let's continue.


famous heidi montag GIFGiphy

It's annoying AF. One of my buddies is constantly filming everything we do and posting it. It's to the point where people walk up to me on the street and ask me about him because they've seen me in his posts...

I have no idea who they are.

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. He does occasionally get some cool stuff out of it though.

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.


That was sad to read.

But isn't necessarily the norm. Let's continue and see what else is in store.

"Not a friend..."

Not a friend, but a past colleague. She would bring multiple outfits in case there was a good photo opp that day and quickly change. She'd ask whoever was with her to take photos. I made the mistake of saying yes once and realized I signed up for a 300 photoshoot that lasted over half an hour. The worst part is she then proceeded to ask me which photo was the best between two agonizingly similar options. I have an eye for detail but even this was extreme. I couldn't believe how much time was wasted.

But to her, it was normal and even productive. In hindsight, seeing as her social media could also be a source of income it would make sense that she'd work that hard. But she was and still is a micro-influencer at best (less than 5000 followers) who didn't have that many brand deals. She was also very self-conscious of certain parts of her body and seemed to lack healthy self-esteem. It was one of those cases where I truly felt sorry for her and definitely cared for her well-being, but felt it was best to leave to professionals to address that.


Depends on the position...

I worked with Youtube influencers in my last job with an agency that paired sponsors with these 'celebrities'. I basically did the grunt work like ensuring hotels/plane tickets, getting coffee, running errands and meeting with the talent to ensure they were where they needed to be (e.g., events, conferences, trade shows, parties or whatever).

Over time you make friends with others who are in those positions, especially when you're running errands for some entitled pseudo-celebritiy.

The nicest Youtubers were the animators - always calm and understanding.

The worst were the family vloggers - I've met all the big ones & I never met one that wasn't a completely different person off camera. The kids are always spoiled and no one disciplines them so they're running around breaking things or acting like idiots, and no one can yell at them lest their influencer parents find out.

Close second is makeup Youtubers.


"Being an influencer..."

My roommate is a minor one in the tech field. He's very forward-thinking and doesn't have a lot of patience. Legit ADHD, doesn't read books, works 24/7. He's a nice person and we're friends, though

Being an influencer is not important to him, it's more like the marketing division of his many money-making schemes. He doesn't give a sh!t about anyone he interacts with online.


The Profile

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. Its just annoying... I can't imagine living for the approval or satisfaction of others.


It doesn't look like the influencing game is for everyone though. Plenty of people have tried and failed. I have a friend, God love her, who continues to believe everyone wants to see her cooking, cleaning and bathing in champagne while reading Dickens, yes that is a thing. But she just can't get to that special 100K number that apparently is a golden ticket moment. She is desperate on the daily. I try to tell her, not everybody is meant to spread joy through the influence or while sitting on the toilet singing "Wicked."

Living through the phone...

My ex gf. I couldn't eat before she took a dozen picture. We went hiking and had to turn around less than a mile in since she spent an hour taking videos and posting photos. Service connection wasn't good enough so we went to the trail head. She had to post or else "people are going to think I'm broke or depressed and they need to know I'm traveling." She lived her life though her phone.


"She religiously preaches..."

I don't speak to her anymore but she was one of my closest friends. She religiously preaches about being a 'girls girl'. I know that a few years ago, she was willingly and knowingly the 'other woman' for ages. He had specific days that he saw his girlfriend, she saw him on the other days and she actually got jealous when she knew he was with his girlfriend. The whole hypocrisy makes me cringe.


"She's great."

I've got a close friend who became an influencer late into the friendship.

She's great. Things changed a little and sometimes the "let's take a video/pic" thing gets annoying but it doesn't bother me too much.

I'm not very ~aesthetic~ or Instagram hot but she's never treated me differently or poorly despite her ever-growing platform.

I also don't think her personality has changed at all. She's dope. I get why people want to follow her.


At Coachella

I was with a guy at Coachella, he has a pretty good following on IG. He posted something while we were watching a concert and could not look away from his phone. I asked him when he'd eventually put his phone away and he said he would when he got over 1,000 likes.

I couldn't believe it.


Not too surprising, however.

How many times have you been at a large event only to see some people who can't seem to just be present at the event without looking at their phones constantly.

One wonders if they're doing the same thing.

Let's continue.

The 2020 Brand...

I post travel photos and have about two hundred followers. 200, not 2000 or higher.

My friend somehow thought that was influencer status and decided to copy me - except she quit her job so she could travel more and "grow her own brand". In 2020. She lost her apartment, her car, and still hasn't found a job, but calls herself a professional influencer all the same.


"It definitely was a strain..."

I am married to one. He didn't start out on YouTube when we first started dating. He's doing really well and it grows everyday, he's currently in the 350k following range. It definitely was a strain on our relationship at first and work/life balance has been a work in progress. Being open and honest about expectations has made a great difference, and now that this is a full-time job for him, he's able to have a better balance. Yes, he is definitely on his phone more than most for sure, but he's really great at being present in the moment. And thank goodness he's not one of those that just start filming randomly walking down the street, I would go running.



wannabe GIF by Spice GirlsGiphy

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.


Wannabe 2.0

Do wannabe influencers count? My buddy is constantly posting and sending workout Snapchat and Insta posts, and tagging himself in nutritional shops. He's constantly looking for something to film or photograph himself doing stuff. For example, we were walking on a trail last summer, and he threw his tank off and asked me to take a photo of him doing a pull-up on a tree. I started laughing and took the photo. Does he continue working out? Nope. Throws his tank back on and we continue walking. I'm like ok what was the point of that...


"I know an influencer..."

I know an influencer that literally got herself into debt trying to live up to the role! All for a few free items of clothing that she tries to flog once she's posted a pic in them. Even staged her engagement. So sad.


"Not huge..."

My cousin has a YouTube channel he does for a living. Not huge, has like 20k subs but he does other side stuff with it he can live on. For the most part, he's still the same besides constantly documenting stuff (he did that beforehand anyway since he's a photographer too). Some stuff is ingenious but he still acts the same for the most part as far as I remember.


"One was a clanmate of mine..."

I know a bunch of these!

One was a clanmate of mine from 15 years ago who went from top-level talent in a game with a niche competitive scene to the top streamer of a mainstream game. His personality on stream is actually like 90% close to reality, he's just more elitist in private. Still a cool guy, and I wouldn't be surprised if he has an 8 digit bank account, really happy for him. Don't talk to him too much but we spark a conversation like once a year by sheer coincidence (meeting by chance on matchmaking in the newest game) about new gaming topics and whatnot. He confessed to me that he really misses focusing on competitive playing but there's no money to it and competitive-worthy games either don't exist or are too late to get into.

One is a Twitch streamer girl who averaged 300-500 views and is sponsored by a gaming clan at any given time. She's actually pretty good in one game in particular, but not at a pro-level. I met her twice in person with my brother and it was insightful. I don't care for esports at all so I kinda tuned out 90% of the conversations while enjoying my food, but it was amusing hearing her express her true feelings about her viewers. These are guys that are donating thousands of dollars just to be able to group with her in Discord and Overwatch matchmaking parties. Meanwhile, she asked to play and meet with us with $0 investment on our end. Why do you guys do this to yourselves? Donating actually lowers a girl streamer's opinion of you, they reluctantly put on a smile to play with your creepy clinging self because hey you donated a lot of money. They don't want to shatter your fragile sense of entitlement and ego since it means you may stop donating.

One guy went from obscure sub-20 viewer counts to millions in Tiktok. He was a tenuous friend of a friend and I already had my reservations before meeting him (this was pre-TikTok). Guy was actually quite funny, but came off as a talker-but-no-walk. He was heavily into PUA and macho topics like joining the Navy Seals. Now he makes embarrassing content catered to tween girls across the globe and took down all his old content which included the likes of "How to train like a Navy Seal", "A women's place in the world and gender roles", "How I became a chef and fighter", "How I dealt with being homeless", "Fist fighting with my dad" (he farms views with skits featuring his dad today). This is the guy who's claimed to be in over 2000 fights. All in all, it was an interesting shift in content to witness!

Last is the guy I know least about, some guy I met in college. Honestly, same vibes as the previous guy but with less humor. He hasn't had the breakthrough success of millions of underaged girls following him on TikTok yet.


"But hey, that's life."

My boyfriend is actually a newly popular horror Youtuber. With him recently gaining over 700K subscribers in the past year alone. I've been with him for a year and a half. Known him for almost 2 years. When I met him he had just a little over 1000 subscribers.

Honestly, he hasn't changed at all with his increasing popularity. If anything he has just become more passionate about his work. Spending hours and hours making sure that his videos are perfect. It's also nice because he shows me his videos before he posts them asking for honest opinions. I always give him honest feedback and try to help out. One of my favorite things though is helping him find good video ideas, figuring out a good title, and judging his thumbnails.

I even booked us a night at a haunted hotel for his birthday just to support his channel. He told me he had always wanted to film a video at that specific hotel. So obviously I thought it would be a nice gift. Just seeing how excited he got made it so worth it to spend the night at a creepy hotel and explore it after midnight. I would honestly do anything to support him. It's his passion in life and he works so hard to keep it up. He makes me so proud. So honestly, it's not bad.

The only downside is sometimes people will find my social media through him and send me nasty messages. His ex is in some of his older videos from when he first started out his channel. So people will also randomly message me saying that I don't deserve him or question where his ex went and why I'm with him and she's not. Its sad because people don't know the full story and just assume things. I've had people message me asking why I broke them up when in reality she was really manipulative and cheated on him. (I do not really tell my boyfriend when people message me because it makes him feel bad).

But hey, that's life. I don't really let it bother me anymore, just people trying get a reaction out of me lmao. Other than that thing I'd say it's pretty great having my boyfriend as an "influencer" and I'm here to support it. It's amazing seeing your partner thrive and achieve success.


Okay, that was pretty sweet.

See, it's not all bad.

Let's continue.

"Had known them both for years..."

Two well-known animal YouTubers/influencers. Had known them both for years not really personally, but casually in the community. Enough so I guess I survived the facebook drafts when they got "too big" and removed most non-personal acquaintances.

Reached out to them to ask for help sharing a GoFundMe when my dog fell ill. Didn't ask for money, just use some of that power to help spread the word. I'm not in the habit of asking people for anything but I'd swallow my pride to help my dog when I've burned through all savings and the bills were piling up still. Both left me on read. Felt like a slap in the face as I had shared their content for years but this was somehow too big an ask.


That's just sad.

And says quite a lot about who these people are.

Let's continue.

"The other..."

I know two in real life— one who, while she is not massively successful yet, has about 20k followers, and the other who is trying to build her brand.

The one with 20k was a roommate of mine, and quite irritating to be honest. Very "fake" as you'd expect, and obsessed with money, despite struggling to make our $383 rent. She'd bash her then-boyfriend for not having Apple products or caring about his "status," would regularly pose with expensive sports cars, and did everything she could to fake wealth.

The other is one of the most sincere people I've met, and aside from some photoshopping of her photos, seems quite genuine. We work together in retail and she of course doesn't include that aspect of her life, but she's trying to build a lifestyle brand. I get it. At least she isn't obnoxious about it, and promotes affordable clothing.


This last one though...

This last one is a doozy.

A Frightening Turn of Events

Around 2008-2009, my 14-year-old cousin created a Facebook account and started posting photos of herself. Very quickly her page became a beauty blog and was reaching thousands of unique visitors a day. For a 14-year-old girl from a town in the middle of nowhere, managing to make something out of what she loved doing and on a fledgling social media website, it was a phenomenal achievement. She started getting sponsors of all kinds. Make-up, skincare, hair products, clothes, eye contacts, and all sorts of accessories were being sent to her home, which would later become a problem. Meanwhile, her parents didn't know what to make of it.

Being immigrants in a rapidly growing technological world, they didn't know much about the internet themselves, so they couldn't really offer her much help, let alone protect her from the terrible impending events. With all the attention she was getting and a growing base of followers and visitors, she started getting a lot of haters as well. People were just saying the nastiest of things on her page and in her DMs, and grotesque men were constantly trying to hit on her. When she rejected them or tried to ignore them they would blow up on her, calling her fat and ugly. That did some real damage to her confidence and self-image and she developed anorexia and depression and started to become estranged.

Despite all that, she managed to start dating a boy who was close to a family friend, and everyone considered him a very respectful, mature, and patient young man. He was just a year older than her and he was very understanding and was supportive of her but suggested they keep their relationship private and known only to family and close friends. The boy was a godsend, she was the happiest she's ever been with anyone and he got her to stop her anorexia, and she was slowly healing.

Unfortunately, her online fan base and haters caught wind of their relationship and it seemed like half of them just turned on her. The harassment worsened and the threats worsened, her anorexia was back, as well as the sponsors were beginning to drop, and since she was using her real address to receive products from sponsors, she got doxxed. Strange people started stalking her to and from school and were messaging her details about her private life and family. She was receiving death threats towards her and her family and she started to become paranoid and fell even further into depression.

That was the final straw, and my aunt and uncle called for an intervention for her. All of our family came together to show her our love and support for her and unanimously agreed it would be best to have her step away from Facebook or any other kind of social media. My aunt and uncle moved them far away across the country and started being more careful about the internet.

Today, she's a happy and healthy woman with a love for the outdoors and traveling. She has a Facebook but only uses it to keep in touch with close friends and family. She's finishing up her schooling at a State University and she's been married to the same boyfriend that helped and supported her through those dark times. They are expecting to buy a house and starting a family soon.



I frequent a gossip blog that has a handful of crackpot commenters who (savvier members claim) have created multiple accounts to start drama and argue with themselves and others.

The same individual has been accused of this multiple times and the accusers seem pretty positive about it - it's a MAJOR disruption and pain in the ass for those of us just there to read the blind items and guess the celebrity or talk some standard trash.

At one point the sitemaster had to rejigger the whole site to implement a new commenting platform so we could self-regulate. It's a shame, we lost almost ten years of historical comments (with accurate juicy details) as a result.

Hey don't judge me we all have our weird little communities, right?


The Misguided

confused jeremy renner GIFGiphy

To be honest it's really crap. 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.


No Filter

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 getting their approval for it. Imagine trying to get a group picture with all of your friends for your birthday but having you take almost one hundred shots to get one that your influencer friend is happy with.

Also in the beginning I would like and comment on all of their posts but now that's not enough. They expect me message it others, share it on my stories and my page (something about new rhythms and likes not being important anymore). I hate posting stuff to my page but I do it any way to be supportive.

It is so tiring. They do get free things sometimes though that they sometimes share with me. Not worth it imo.


The Drama

Lord these people are a handful. Some of these stories could be an E True Hollywood story.

Let's take a trip...

Pretty mundane, honestly. My friend is conventionally attractive, and if you look at her social media, you'd think she were a supermodel millionaire who goes on tons of trips.

She's actually chronically unemployed, and has an income of less than 10k/yr. Her boyfriend makes about $60k/yr which is enough to afford them a very nice 3 1/2 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.

She's a very kind, considerate, sparkling personality, but whenever we hang out, I tend to be a shoulder to cry on as she laments about her lack of success in life. It's quite sad, honestly. But with her creativity and personality, I think she'll achieve her dreams eventually.


Cutting the Aesthetic...

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 photoshoot. She never did anything with our friend group unless it was 'aesthetic', and even then, she was so focussed on getting us to take photos that a. she didn't get to enjoy the activity, and b. it started bringing everyone else down because they couldn't participate either.

And this sounds so petty, but she could never just show up in a t-shirt and leggings (because photos, obviously). Like even sleepovers and movie nights had to be a big production and sometimes you just need to stuff your face with popcorn and look like a slob! It's good for the soul!!

She'd also complain a lot about how hard her job was... Our friendship group at the time consisted of an EMT, two nurses, a teacher, and me who was juggling university, tutoring, and working retail. Lile, I'm sure she had challenges and all jobs are hard sometimes, but... girl.... you get paid to take selfies with free stuff, and show up at events looking pretty.



Cardi B Hoax GIFGiphy

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.



Do these people even know who they are anymore? Did they ever?

YouTube Family

A girl in my homeschool group in middle school was always bragging about how her parents had a youtube channel with thousands of subscribers. she was really arrogant about it and i didn't enjoy spending time with her because she was a brat. the funny thing is nobody ever believed her (including myself) until one day i stumbled across a video of theirs while scrolling through youtube. sure enough, they had thousands of subscribers. she hadn't been lying and i was shocked. now they have well over a million. they don't upload very often anymore though.



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 get her phone/camera out at sometimes random moments, which could get annoying.

She got pregnant. Baby everything now.


Ugh. hate her.

michelle obama eww GIFGiphy

She is annoying... there's no other word to describe her. Feel sorry for her because she is a person that needs attention all the time. (We are not friends but we live in the same house).


Sober Reality

I sold my place to one a while ago. One of those newly green, sustainable, body - positivity types. Pretty much everything about what this person projects as her social media image is fake as it turned out. It was quite a sobering experience.


I'm thinking about becoming an influencer. Just a for a quick million or two. And because I love free things. It's an actual obsession. If it's free, it's for me. That screams to be on a shirt, doesn't it? Hint hint to my followers reading. I mean most of these people above are doing well. Sure their crap humans who value fake attention over authentic contact but... they get free stuff. I'll keep y'all updated.

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.