An un-Bali-evable vacation

Popular YouTuber pranks fans into believing she vacationed in Bali, Indonesia

Photo+courtesy+of+Flickr+via+Creative+Commons

Photo courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons

Gabrielle Lazor, Author

  Beginning on February 7, 2020, American-based YouTube personality, Natalia Taylor, delivered a profound statement about superficial influence culture through a series of Instagram posts and a viral prank YouTube video. 

           Exotic photos of Taylor flooded fans’ feeds with a tagged location of Bali, Indonesia. The images implied she was staying at a luxurious hotel, or perhaps an Airbnb, with many of the  posts boasting bold wallpaper and sleek surfaces. Only three days later, Taylor released a video to her 1.97 million subscribers explaining that she faked the lavish vacation, and instead was photographed in her local Ikea. 

            “The point of this video is to trick people into believing you are someone when you are not,” Taylor says in her video. This social experiment was intended to criticize other influencers and the industry who embellish aspects of their life, including vacations, for social media popularity and hopes of a broader fan base. 

            Many of Taylor’s 332 thousand Instagram followers responded to the posts showing support with comments such as ‘she really out here living her best life’ and ‘our Bali princess’. A spokesperson for IKEA reacted to the experiment, saying, “at IKEA, we love to see our customers engaging with the iconic room settings we feature in our stores.”  Even with IKEA price tags visible in the photos, deliberate clues of her actual location, Taylor amassed tens of thousands more followers and supporters. 

           With Taylor’s astronomical success attributed to her fabricated getaway, she emphasizes the pressures of social media influencer culture. “Sometimes people want to lie about who they are as a person, and it is not that hard to do apparently,” she says.  Followers are increasingly eager to believe in their idolized perceptions of public personalities. 

           Battlefield sophomore Rachel Kim elaborates on YouTubers’ influence, saying, “the youth spends a lot watching YouTubers and their lives.” According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 watch YouTube, naming the platform the ‘most used social media network’ among middle and high schoolers. 

         Therefore, influencers earn the title their name implies “because [teens] grow a connection with them and think of them as practically [their] role model. [Kids] begin to trust them and will… believe anything they say,” Kim continues. In a world of carefully-curated portrayals to the public, teenagers are constantly set up to fail by comparing themselves to overly edited images. Taylor’s clever ploy broadcasted to her followers goes to show that what may be ‘Instagrammable’ should not always be believable.