Calloway is fresh out of her viral tour, the one we compared with Fyre Festival early this year, recovering from a New York Magazine exposé written by her former best friend, and now her father’s death.
She’s had a large following for years, now with over 800,000 followers. First, she got attention for writing extravagant Instagram captions in which she documented her fascinating life in New York, like it’s a YA novel happening in real time. Then, things got spicy when she was paid $500,000 for a book about her life that she didn’t end up finishing.
It seems like if you take your eyes off her for two seconds, something else happens. Another exposé on her character. A confession that she bought followers or had a ghostwriter. A death in her family, detailed through Instagram stories. Another screenshot shared to give us an insight into the kind of hate she’s receiving online.
Calloway’s all over the news. BuzzFeed, The Washington Post, even The New York Times. But can we just say, we saw her first?
Pretty early on, before most were exposed to the world’s most interesting influencer, we already felt a story coming.
It was Dec. 23 when we first contacted her on Instagram for an interview.
Calloway was gearing up for a nationwide “creativity workshop” tour, charging $165 a head.
On Dec. 24, Calloway responded with a “OMG YES!!!!” followed with a “Let’s set up a phone interview in the new year? I am making a list of interviews and putting you on it!”
We messaged again on Dec. 28. Then on Jan. 4. On Jan. 11 she finally answered.
“Omg hi!!!! This message got totally lost. Thank you for following up,” she said, also offering her email address. “Send me an email and we will set up a time in the coming weeks.”
The tour got canceled. And then un-canceled. A writer on Twitter by the name of Kayleigh Donaldson started shedding light on the ridiculousness of it all, and that’s where the drama started. Everything spiraled, the whole ordeal went viral because Calloway documented every hurdle on real time on Instagram, and soon Calloway was dubbed a scam artist.
So as you can imagine, we wanted our promised interview. Even more.
As the likes of The New York Times and Business Insider got a hold of her, we kept trying to claim our few minutes with Calloway.
We got hold of her finally, ready to get what we could from the infamous influencer. But instead of an interview, what we got was 10 minutes of her explaining why she couldn’t give us one after all.
It was Jan. 30. She told us in that sweet, charming way she talks that she’s so excited for us to come pay $165 to come to her “creativity” workshop and eat vegan salad and wear flower crowns with her to get the story.
We told you all this in January, but now that recent events have gained her more media attention than ever, we just wanted to remind you that we were scammed first.
The Cut recently released a long, juicy essay written by Natalie Beach, revealing herself to be Calloway’s former best friend and ghostwriter. “Seven years after I met the infamous Instagram star, I’m ready to tell my side of the story,” Beach wrote.
The essay brought to light a side of Calloway her 800K followers had never seen. It detailed the falling out between Beach and Calloway in a way that did real damage to Calloway’s reputation. And soon, Twitter drama ensued.
@nakkiahlui wrote, “Is there anything more complicated and difficult to understand in the entire world then Quantum Physics and friendships between middle/upper middle class white girls who meet doing creative writing class together at an east coast college? #carolinecalloway.”
Some, like @annehelen, got analytical: “Anyone who's been involved in a toxic friendship will recognize every single move in the Caroline Calloway story. Just fascinating to watch how it's adapted to social media / public commodification of the self.”
Most recently, The Washington Post published a story titled, “The Messiness and Meaning of Caroline Calloway.”
The attention Calloway is getting for living her life so publicly, but maybe not so honestly, is raising questions about toxic friendships and influencer culture. People are asking themselves what they want to see from their Instagram celebrities. What is real? Can it be real? Is it possible to be so public and so genuine at the same time?
Maybe. And maybe Caroline Calloway will never figure it out, but she’ll document every attempt to do so in detail and with the world watching.