I used to be like you. I used to take photos on my phone and share them with my followers. I used to, I used to. Then, two weeks ago I got a notification that would change my social media presence for ever: Instagram user @champagnepapi had liked two of my photos and started following me. Over the next ten minutes my phone screen became a frenzied stampede of comments, likes and new followers before it all became too much and my phone died. It was in this moment of calm that I understood a curtain had just fallen on my previous life, an era I now wistfully refer to as "Before Drake Started Following Me On Instagram".
It was around this time that I realised I was not an especially chill human being. I sent out a barrage of texts, an accompanying screenshot, and what I feel were quite reasonable statements like "omgomgomgomg" and "FUUUUUCCCKKKKKK". I spent the rest of the day reopening my notifications tab, just to make sure I hadn't dreamed it.
How had I, a lowly peon with barely 500 followers to my name, so undeservedly received the 6 God's blessing? Did he think my #tbts were a nostalgic celebration of south London circa '91? Or that the photos of my friends gawking drunk into the camera swigging a Meantime Pale Ale told him something about the vacuous sense of self-loathing that comes from metropolitan hedonism? Could be. I mean, it's probably because I have a hand in a Drake-centric club night, imaginatively called "Drake Night", and I'd tagged him in some of the photos from it, but we'll never know for sure.
What I do know is the paralysing social media stage fright that quickly sets in once you realise that you now have the power to expose your favourite rapper to your spectacularly unremarkable life. The idea that Drake could feasibly scroll through to a blurry photo me coming second in a pub quiz is terrifying. How could my drab, goes-out-maybe-twice-on-a-good-week existence possibly interest a man who's done it with Rihanna?
Thumbing through the other accounts Drake follows certainly didn't help. I've somehow snuck into an elite club and am currently rubbing tanned, digital shoulders with the likes of Amy Schumer, Steph Curry and seemingly every single Section Boy. Drake's feed must be a non-stop stream of yachts, gorgeous women, seared scallops and people posing on balconies in Dubai. Mine consists of the same few cats, hilarious local news headlines and people being pleased that they've done a face swap with something that doesn't have a face. What can I, a schmuck whose only other claim to fame is occasionally being mistaken for a more hunched Jack Penate, possibly offer Toronto's favoured son?
This is what I posted on Instagram before Drake started following me.
Anything I post would be a beige little reminder of what life without international fame is like. If Drake saw it, maybe he'd regret his previous act of charity and instantly unfollow me, condemning me to a life of forever being referred to as "the guy who Drake used to follow". I can't let that happen.
To understand how much this has immobilised my digital life, here's an example: Last weekend was my friend Jonathan's birthday. A bunch of us went for a meal. It was very nice. Here are some photos I took:
Two weeks ago I would have happily shared either of these without a second thought. But now, thanks to our new Canadian friend, I can't afford to be so reckless. Why would Drake want to see what Jonathan did for his birthday? Drake doesn't know who Jonathan is. Jonathan's cake was very nice, but Drake's probably used better cakes as ashtrays. See those balloons with Jonathan's face on? Drake doesn't care about Jonathan's balloons or Jonathan's face. I have a responsibility to someone more important than Jonathan now, and I can guarantee that that person couldn't give six shits about Jonathan and his delicious cake. With my newfound duties as one of his handpicked cultural curators I simply can't take up precious space in Drake's internal mood board with trash like this. Sorry Jonathan's birthday meal, I'm afraid you no longer make the cut. That being said, thanks so much for inviting me you guys, I had a really lovely time.
Perhaps I'm overreacting and Drake finds my life a delightful respite from the constantly naked models, adoring fans and shoeboxes full of money, but it's a risk I'm simply not willing to take. It might not even be the fear of losing the kudos of the Drake follow that keeps me from posting anything, maybe it's something simpler than that. What if Drake saw my post, hidden amongst the thousand plus other accounts he follows, and silently decided I'm not that cool? Because even if I never found out, even if he'd stayed his thumb, kept following me and stoically tolerated my mediocrity, I think on some level, I'd still know.
Be like Drake, follow Joe Iley on Instagram
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