Chasing fame in the Internet age: CSU students reflect on large social followings

Henry Netherland

With the increasing ubiquity of social media, access to fame seems easier than ever. Anyone with access to a decent camera can attract attention through their personality, talents or by exploiting their platform’s algorithm.

With the increase of availability of social media, fame seems more accessible than ever. (Photo illustration by Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

According to Google Trends, the term “clout” skyrocketed into the public dialect as recently as August 2017. Many have begun to use “clout” and “clout chasing” in relation to attempting online fame. Urban Dictionary defines “clout chaser” as “a person that only hangs with certain people or starts beef with people to gain popularity.”

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A recent example of clout chasing occurred with rapper Kid Buu, whose real name is Markquez Lao Santiago. Through a YouTube confession from an ex-girlfriend, Buu was revealed to be a convicted child abuser who repeatedly lied about various aspects of his life including his age. He claimed to be 23 when he was actually 30 at the time.

Before these revelations, Buu seemed to have a significant online following with millions of streams for his songs and associations with established rappers like Trippie Redd. This also turned out to be fabricated. “No Jumper” podcast host Adam22 provided evidence from social media analytics website Social Blade that showed unusual spikes in popularity for Buu. According to Adam22, this proved that Buu was consistently purchasing bots to act as followers to seem he more popular than he actually was.

“The perception of people’s lives on Instagram isn’t the same as their real life. People want to chase what people’s life is on Instagram rather than focus on what they have and what they need to do to not be that life, but become a better life for them. Show your successes through your way and not try to do it as someone else.” -Ray Mancini Jr., apparel and merchandising senior

Colorado State University apparel and merchandising senior Ray Mancini Jr. has acquired almost 85,000 followers on Instagram through his participation in a YouTube series called, “@SummerBreak” and explains the reality of social media expectations.

Mancini Jr. said people are attracted to the lifestyles they see on social media.

“The perception of people’s lives on Instagram isn’t the same as their real life,” Mancini Jr. said. “People want to chase what people’s life is on Instagram rather than focus on what they have and what they need to do to not be that life, but (have) a better life for (themselves). Show your successes through your way and not try to do it as someone else.” 

Originally from Los Angeles, Mancini Jr. has seen firsthand how hyperactive social media culture can become.

“A lot of Viners and YouTubers came to L.A. that weren’t ever from there, but they wanted to be a part of that lifestyle,” Mancini said. “(Social media) stars are much younger, they’re doing obscene sh*t … just to like attract followers and attention. A lot of people are fake in L.A.”

Savannah Rose, a current CSU student majoring in psychology with almost 64,000 followers on Instagram, said she can personally attest to others trying to take advantage of her online popularity.

“I’ve had a lot of people – some strangers and some friends – ask me to share their stuff, promote their products or brand for free, or even just shout them out personally because they want that recognition,” Rose said. “I only ‘promote’ things I truly already use or if it’s from someone or a company I trust. Otherwise, I don’t want my page to be for promotions.”

Despite the multiple negative aspects of social media, CSU professor Nick Boehm, who teaches a course known as social media management, said there are many more layers to the situation than are typically addressed.

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“Since the line of research is so new, there’s been studies out there that have shown positive mental effects of using social media,” Boehm said. “There’s been a lot of studies out there that have seen negative mental effects to using social media. So it gets a little bit more nuanced than just simply saying ‘using social media creates a positive effect or using social media creates a negative effect.'”

Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NetherlandHenry.