Rich kids of instagram

October 25, 2012
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Rob Hardy

They’re rich, they’re cool and they have the whole world at their feet: they’re the Rich Kids of Instagram, or #RKOI for those of you hip to hashtag. But don’t hate them because they’re rich, or for all the other things that being rich affords a person. They didn’t ask to be famous or born into the upper class. Well, that’s partially true.

For those of you not in the know, this summer saw rise to one of the latest reality trends burning up the blogosphere, and has quickly captured the imaginations of people all around the world. But it all started innocently enough for the parties involved. The RKOI phenomenon rode the wave thanks to the explosion of Instagram (basically Twitter with pictures), inspiring both exhibitionists and voyeurs as it shows life on Earth circa 2012. Tumblr was the format used to create the RKOI blog, whereby certain pictures from Instagram, notable for their depictions of young people living luxurious lives, were lifted for broadcast to feed our appetites for the good life.

That being said, the blog’s postings have increased rapidly over the slower pace of July when it first began to get noticed. This, as well as talk that it may spawn a reality show, caused a slew of posters to submit photos – a new class of opportunists specifically hoping to get featured themselves.

The blog, and the conversations it has started, are engrossing and raise several issues. What is it about these pictures that really draws people in, and can they actually be faked? I have to say that if one were honest, there is something that many of the subjects have in common collectively. Aside from the fact that many of these pictures demonstrate considerable wealth, the people in the photos themselves, mainly of the young Ivy-league crowd, show a presence and pedigree that is undeniable. You just don’t take them for wannabes who may actually eat fast-food every day and lack a certain kind of breeding.

On the other hand, though, apart from some of the obvious benefits wealth buys, there is something far more accessible being demonstrated. In many ways, spending time on this blog is no different than leafing through an old Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. If the appeal is that it simply sells another version of hyped-up fantasy, then in some ways its purpose doesn’t differ much from numerous other media outlets doing the same thing, despite its unique format.

So going deeper here, and bypassing both the embittered outcries about the rich as well as the tired claims of shallowness, is a simple analysis. What we are really seeing here is people having fun. Yes, some truly enjoy material wealth, even if they do not wholly identify with it. But in the end, it is the happy faces and the promise of optimism, which is making people check their smartphones during lunch breaks to see the latest uploads. And ultimately for all of us, life is what you make it, regardless of how many Swarovski encrusted skulls you may have.

It’s a thought not easily understood by many, but as others have previously noted, money does not increase your level of happiness proportionally after the main necessities of life are taken care of. I wonder at the reports of lottery winners who decry their winnings as the ruin of their lives, but I can’t honestly say that being in the same situation would do much to improve my own life. I’d still have the same problems and my deepest concerns wouldn’t be assuaged.

Most of what a person really needs is provided for with hard work, a little luck and some concerted momentum to change your life. Those resources wind up translating to other kinds, which we wind up attracting from there on. That’s not to say the economy doesn’t absolutely suck, but will your world really be a better place by sleeping in the finest bed while those around you and society at large are slipping further? The answer should clearly be no.

As I wrote above, life is what you make it, provided you have enough to actually make something with (not everyone does). Though dreaming about rich socialites partying in New York, studying at Harvard and vacationing in Newport or the Hamptons is fun, it is a big lie to buy into the idea that something separates one class of people from another. If money is about value, we must also remember that values change, and that the concept of what class even is has been often redefined over time.

The final thoughts here are that, minus the depiction of opulent riches, it might be possible for some of us to land on this blog if we really tried, since images have always carried with them an element of deception and subjectivity. Also, genuine entrance to a better life can equally be granted if we choose to better ourselves. The concept of an ivory tower partially exists in so much as we believe it to be a barrier.

Likewise, as realities also alter, who’s to say we won’t see some of the RKOI one day on the opposite end of prosperity bemoaning their fall? Only time will tell.

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