By Morgan O’Hare
Albacore tuna tataki topped with lime ponzu, avocado, cucumber and scallions. Sautéed cream mushrooms served with lobster meat, spinach and lemon butter. Warm bread pudding accompanied with pecan praline ice cream. Is your mouth watering yet? For SMU junior Schuyler Mack, ordering these delicacies is just doing “research.”
Mack is the founder and creative mind behind the Instagram account . Conceived barely over a year ago, Mack began documenting her quest to inform Dallas natives of the best restaurants in town, whether they be newly opened eateries or hidden gems across town. With occasional foodie coverage in Palm Beach or New York, depending on Mack’s travels, she is launching her career through Instagram, and it’s starting to pay off.
Today, Devouring Dallas has almost 3,000 followers, and still growing. For Mack, this was a business plan all along. Mack originally created her Instagram to gain supporters and to then expand the brand into a blog. She wants to work in the food industry one day, so this was the perfect opportunity to create a name for herself.
Contrary to what you might think, Mack’s idea and motives are not unprecedented. Although she is well on her way down the road to “Instafame,” there is a group of non-celebrities within the realm of Instagram who have risen far and above the general public.
While these people may not have as many followers to compete with ’s 10 million, they still have become celebrities in their own right. The newfound Instastars dominate the “popular” page, rake in thousands of likes, and have more followers than the number of strands of hair on an average human head, which, in case you were wondering, is 100,000.
How has Instagram become one of, if not the, most utilized social media app out there? SMU Psychology Department research assistant Grace Merck says, “People love Instagram because it is simple and non-invasive. It’s so accessible to everyone and easy to follow and keep up with. People don’t want to look through 200 photo-long Facebook albums anymore. It’s all about quality over quantity now.”
These entrepreneurs have created a name for themselves and have used their fan base following and exposure to brand themselves. Our attention spans have dwindled down to a simple scroll of the thumb. So how does one captivate an audience and convince them to follow you?
Avid Instagrammer Hillary Johnson says that the reason she follows these normal-people-turned-celebrities is for pure entertainment. “When I’m bored, I love to see what exotic island Nicole Warne ) is on or where in the world Miroslava Duma () is co-hosting a dinner with the international fashion elite. It’s just fun to see how they live their lives,” says the SMU senior.
It seems that if you have cool enough pictures, the rest of the world will eventually find you, take you in with a “follow,” and put you on their list of “People I wish I knew in real life.”
There are, however, downsides to the fame that can come along with being Instafamous. Like if you don’t want it. Luisa Fernandez Espinosa () is a Los Angeles-based stylist with the chicest outfits and a closet that I would be more than happy to spend the rest of my life in. Espinosa has an Instagram where she posts pictures of her 5-year-old son, Alonso Mateo, who is arguably the most stylish boy in the world with a blue steel that would make Zoolander himself get the goose bumps.
Espinosa began “gramming” outfits of Alonso decked out in designer duds and sharing photos of their travels, as well as her daily life in the fashion world. People fell in love with Alonso and his fame grew infectiously. He started being recognized in public by his fans, and even by celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Pharrell.
Espinosa’s cousin, SMU student Alfredo Molina, says that the point of the Instagram account is just for fun, not fame. “The fame is not really welcome. They really like fashion, and that’s why they do it. If you look through her Instagram, a lot of the pictures of him have been deleted and it’s now more focused on his mom because he was getting too much attention, which is not safe or healthy, I think, for a boy that age,” Molina said.
Molina also explains that Alonso has always been stylish because of his mother, and that he would still be the same person because he was dressing in designer clothing before the account was even created.
Espinosa’s account today has grown to 252,000 followers. While we might, sadly, see fewer pictures of Alonso being uploaded in his mother’s attempt to keep him more in the private eye, he will most likely continue to appear on blogs and receive media coverage. I’m sure Espinosa did not plan to have the hundreds of thousands of followers that she has by just uploading pictures of her daily life, but we can’t help loving her and Alonso’s styles, travels, and lives filtered out to us.
So what is to come of all of this Insta-madness? What does the future hold? With our world, and by that I mean our smartphones, literally in the palms of our hands, social media has become a non-stop train leading straight into the future of marketing and advertising.
For people like Schuyler Mack, Instagram is simply a building block. She says that it has definitely made an impact on her life. “It has given me hope that I could actually launch a business and pursue my dream after I graduate,” she says.
Then there are others like Luisa Fernandez Espinosa and Mira Duma, where the app is just a way to share their lives, with no intention of fame. They post pictures of their inspirations, travels and personal style, which just happened to lure hundreds of thousands of people’s attention. The exposure they are receiving from Instagram serves as a powerful tool for any business ventures or projects that they choose to jump into.