This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Donald Trump Jr. is almost – almost – a tragic figure, an unloved son who is blindly loyal to his father. He's widely mocked, his marriage fell apart amid a storm of bad press, and his father reportedly thinks he broke the law by accident. It's enough to make you feel bad for him, until you remember who he is and what he stands for. In keeping with his sad boy brand, Don Jr. is also an avid user of social media, where he posts literal fake news and defends his father's honor at all costs.
But not every social media network is the same, and on Instagram Don Jr. has found a safe space to be himself, a place where he can interact with his fans, own the libs, post selfies galore, and have a little bit of fun. It seems vaguely unseemly for someone as famous and under investigation as Trump's eldest son to interact with his Instagram commenters as frequently as he does, but as he wrote in one of his many replies to his followers, "It's an inclusive page. Everyone welcome. Even whiny libs."
He'll respond to anyone – he frequently ignores comments from verified accounts, instead replying to messages from random accounts, which suggests that he reads all the comments. Which has to got to hurt. But when replying to these so-called "whiny libs," Don Jr. doesn't hold back, chiding them for their low follower counts, and/or accusing them of being robots.
He responds to nonsensical comments with equally nonsensical replies. When someone wrote, "Barack Obama day. Barack Obama zero scandals" on selfie he took in the woods, he wrote back, "🤣🤣🤣." What?
But more interesting is when Don Jr. communicates with his fans, the people who affirm his worldview. "Does any one else have problems with your photos not loading in their feed?" one commenter wondered, attributing what is likely a shitty internet connection to a nefarious Instagram conspiracy to deprive the world of Donald Trump Jr. selfies.
"All the time," he affirmed.
"I have mysteriously lost 2 thousand followers since I posted about Reagan and Krauthammer," another follower chimed in. "Poof. The price of being a conservative I guess."
Although he's less political on Instagram than he is on Twitter, he still dutifully includes many tributes to his father on his feed. On July 4, he posted an image of his father as Salt Bae, affectionately referring to the dad he desperately wants love from as "Freedom Bae."
When a fan asked if his dad was "going on the right or left side of Mount Rushmore," Don Jr. thirstily responded, "Both?!?!"
For someone who is so publicly reviled, his willingness to ask to his Instagram followers for advice and affirmation has an especially pathetic tenor. After returning to the internet after a wifi-free week in the mountains, he posted two selfies of his budding beard on Instagram, pondering, "Maybe I should keep it??? LMK your thoughts. #scruff #beard."
"In a society attempting to remove any signs of masculinity, I say keep the beard and keep real men in the world," one follower opined. "Please shave.... It's hiding your handsome face.... Liberals have beers [sic] conservatives are clean shaved handsome and good looking," another asserted. "Keep it! It'll scare the libs 🤣did y'all do any hunting?" said a third, to which Don Jr. responded, coyly, "maybe a little 😉."
It's a window into the mind of a man who maybe didn't really want to be mixed up in this whole politics thing – he likes hunting, deciding whether or not to grow a beard, living out his destiny as a child of unearned wealth. On Twitter, though, he remains on-message, posting tweets in support of ICE, whining about how "no one will call [a Democratic congressman] out" because "he's a liberal," celebrating the cancellation of Michelle Wolff's Netflix show and promoting his pro-Trump friend Charlie Kirk's new book. As his dad would say: sad!