Across the vast and teeming wilds of the Instagram comment sections of popular celebrity accounts, certain questions echo: "Follow back?" "Like my pic?" "Can I eat your pussy?" For years, scholars and scientists of the celebrity Instagram have wondered: Are these requests ever fulfilled? Let's find out.
I've written before about the thriving culture of celebrity Instagram comments, in which seekers of truth and wisdom and validation and pussy attempt to garner attention from celebrities and institutions whom they follow. But I have never myself participated. Until now.
On Monday, it was my birthday. Happy birthday to me. Rather than spend the anniversary merely scrolling through my feed, I decided to take my once-a-year shot at being seen—truly seen—by a celebrity, or the person in control of the Instagram account of a popular soccer team.
So I undertook an experiment. Could I get a shout-out from a celebrity on my birthday? Almost certainly, I thought. How about one hundred—could I get one hundred shout-outs from celebrities on my birthday? Hey, you never know. How about four hundred, then—could I get four hundred JK I stopped at one hundred.
On each of the most recent Instagram photos from the one hundred most popular Instagram accounts, based on follower count, I set out to comment: "Can I get a shoutout for my bday?" (I also asked Britt Daniel of the band Spoon, for personal reasons. I'll tell you now that he has not yet gotten back to me, most likely because he is very busy.)
I wanted to know if this seemingly futile quest, repeated dozens of times a day across hundreds of Instagram accounts, had the possibility of fulfillment. I wanted to know what it felt like to scream into an electronic void, at the bottom of which was Katy Perry. But most of all, I wanted a shoutout for my bday.
The First Attempt
It was my birthday, and I was illuminated from within with a bright, bold, birthday glow. My coworker Dayna Evans had made me a cake, and it was delicious. I was ready to set out on my task: Commenting the same comment over and over and over on popular Instagram accounts, many of whom were owned by people I've never heard of (Nina Dobrev? Shay Mitchell? Bethany Noel Mota?) (Canadian actresses and a vlogger, respectfully—now I know), and more than one of which served to showcase photographs of nail art.
I asked Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande for birthday shout-outs, hoping that Kim Kardashian's motherly instincts and Ariana Grande's ponytail and childlike sense of wonder would propel them to tell me what's up happy bday:
I asked JUSTTTEEEEEN Bieber and Taylor Swift, who was SO GOOD ON SNL:
I asked Nicki Minaj, a #queen, and Vanessa Hudgens, a young woman whom I believe I could pick out of a lineup but am not sure if I can be honest:
And so on. It was my birthday, and I was having fun.
Soon after I was blocked from commenting on Instagram.
On. My. Birthday.
This was disrespectful and unreasonable and I have very little doubt but no proof at all that it was the work of that incredibly rude Dan Bilzerian fan, (I imagine he must have reported me, that piece of shit), (who would have thought, a piece of shit Dan Bilzerian fan), (of course that was sarcastic).
Dan Bilzerian, if you are unaware, is an Instagram celebrity known for kicking a woman in the face and throwing another woman off of a roof. "All right, but what is he known for, like, for real?" you're wondering. I don't know. Instagram? Poker, and then also having a lot of guns, but mostly the thing of where he kicked a woman in the face and threw another off of a roof.
Now, did a Dan Bilzerian fan report me, or was I simply banned for posting 54 of the same comment in the span of roughly ten minutes? We'll never know. What I did know was: I had 46 Instagram shout-outs left to request. Instagram provided me with a form to fill out if I felt my blocking was unreasonable, which, of course, I did:
The form did nothing. I waited a day and the blocking still held. The Internet told me that it could last anywhere from 24 hours to one month, which seemed, no offense, like a wild guess. I had to think of an alternate plan.
A Backup Plan
By this time it was February 17th: Michael Jordan's birthday, as you may know.
Thiswas my way back. I set up the account mjbday69 and set out to comment "Can I get a shoutout for Michael Jordan's bday?" on the remaining 46 popular Instagram accounts. In order to fool any celebrities who might want to verify the fact that I truly desired a shout-out for Michael Jordan's birthday, I populated the account with seven photos, alternating between photos of Michael Jordan and photos of "Happy Birthday."
I asked Lady Gaga, who had just gotten engaged, congratulations, and Jessica Alba, who had just had an Epic #dinner, for a shout-out for Michael Jordan's birthday, for example:
I asked Ellie Goulding, a blonde woman, and Adriana Lima, a brunette:
In what was perhaps the most exciting moment of the entire experiment, I asked the NBA's Instagram account for a shout-out for Michael Jordan's birthday while they were having their own celebration for Michael Jordan's birthday:
Happy birthday, Michael Jordan.
Though I was terrified throughout this leg of the experiment that my account would again be blocked (if I were forced to make a third Instagram account it would have gone to Billie Joe Armstrong—happy birthday, Billie Joe), I made it through to the other side unscathed, with all one hundred popular Instagram accounts solicited. Eat my dirt, Dan Bilzerian fan.
What I Learned From My Journey
When all was said (commented) and done, I have to say—I got it. The thrill of leaving your mark on a celebrity's life, however small, and the anticipation of awaiting their response added up to an experience that—JK again, I don't know why people do this!
What follows is a complete record of my birthday shout-out winnings and failures:
|Instagram User||Shout-Out Received||Shout-Out Denied|
|The Ellen Show||✓|
|Real Madrid C.F.||✓|
|Nails Art Vidss||✓|
|Bethany Noel Mota||✓|
|Nike Football (Soccer)||✓|
|Sean Diddy Combs||✓|
|Marcelo Vieira Jr.||✓|
Not one shout-out.
[Illustration by Tara Jacoby]