This probably happens more frequently than you think.
Earlier this month, while everybody who’s anybody (at least that’s what they want you to think) was sweating it out and splashing cash at Coachella, Instagram influencer Gabbie Hanna decided to use the festival’s popularity and the hype surrounding it as a teachable moment for anyone experiencing fomo while scrolling through their news feed.
During the second weekend, the usually-introverted Gabbie surprised fans with an Instagram post showing off her first Coachella outfit, soon followed by several more over the two days, both seemingly at a hotel in Palm Springs as well as at the festival itself.
But once all was said and done — the last beat dropped, the last solo sung — Ms. Hanna surprised fans once again, this time in a video admitting she faked the entire thing.
Where was she instead? Helping at-risk youth participate in an Easter egg hunt, of course.
The shots themselves look pretty convincing. But they’re basically the result of some pro-level Photoshop work, which is available to pretty much anyone with enough budget. In Gabbi Hanna’s case, she had the funds to fake it, without anyone suspecting the con job.
While some have criticized the move as contradictory, specifically the part of the video in which Hanna says she’s not throwing shade at social media influencers even though she “essentially calls it a scam,” the response from fans has been largely positive.
Comments on Instagram and YouTube applaud the “Medicate” singer for supporting a good cause instead of spending thousands at the concert, and for shedding a little light behind the curtain. Said YouTube member Shady Sadie:
I thought Gabbie posting pictures at Coachella having fun then complaining about how tired she was on her insta story showed how fake social media is then she REALLY showed me how fake social media is.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of how Gabbi Hanna pulled it off.
The ethics of social media marketing might still need some hashing-out, but for now, it seems the general public appreciates a gentle and well-played reality check. Maybe it’s okay to pay the bills as an influencer as long as you’re honest about your methods, and maybe it’s okay to follow the curated lives we see on our screens as long as we remember they’re just that: a screen.