We’ve All Had A Friend Like Caroline Calloway

If you haven’t already read Natalie Beach’s tea-filled essay about her friendship with influencer/scammer (scamfluencer?) Caroline Calloway, you may have at least heard about some of the more sensational points. The life of an Adderall-addicted manic-pixie-dreamgirl-esque influencer, wreaking havoc in a foreign country and drunk off her own (bought) Instagram power, is pretty much the stuff social media dreams are made of. I’ve followed Calloway for a while, after several articles about her various scams—including the time she ordered 1,200 mason jars to her own home for a “speaking tour” that got mostly canceled—alerted me to her beautiful yet terrifying Instagram presence.

I started building up anticipation for Natalie’s article last week, when Caroline told the world the it was coming via her favorite medium: the novel-length Instagram caption. Caroline ultimately posted about the story eight times before it came out, and since it has come out and my writing this article, she has posted about it 42 times. Yes, forty-two. My guess is by the time you read this she’ll have posted so many times, Instagram is permanently disabled. Following her is about following the improbable life of a probably crazy person, who lays it all bare for the world to see, and also like, might have a pyramid scheme on the side.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The summer of 2014 is when everything started coming together. I had finally found my voice as a writer. I no longer depended on Natalie to sign off before I posted something. I was writing stories that were important to me and I was getting feedback everyday about how important my stories were to the girls that read them. I had bought a couple tens of thousands of followers, which I had leveraged into a community of thousands of real followers. And it was growing. The reason was this: In the same way that I anticipated the trend towards long captions and using Instagram to tell the stories of our lives in real time, I also spotted the potential for Instagram ads from a mile away. It seems obvious now, but it was a breakthrough then and fucking brilliant when I realized I could pay these large accounts to post about me and target my ads to the kind of followers that I wanted! Because that was the thing. I didn’t want FOLLOWERS. I wanted READERS. So I bought ads with BOOK fandom accounts like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games; The Fault in Our Stars was big that summer. Paying for posts seemed like an outrageous idea at the time and the anonymous people who ran these accounts and whom I paid $10 an af thought I was throwing away my money. I gain 150,000 followers over the following summer. I didn’t know it then, but this summer in Sweden would be my most emotionally stable and creatively productive for the next five years. Only THIS SUMMER have I exceeded the levels of artistic output that I achieved that summer. Secluded in Sweden with Oscar that summer where midnight never comes and the end of summer vacation doesn’t come until October (!) I wrote and wrote and wrote.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

Despite Caroline’s desperate desire to post “relatable” content, her life has always been hilariously far from anything I, or any typical human, would experience. For example, I have never accidentally ordered 1,200 mason jars to my home (though I am getting married next year, so who knows?). But in hearing Natalie’s story, I realized there was a role for me in Caroline’s crazy world, and it was the role of the traumatized friend. The girl caught up in her friend’s fake “adventure girl” persona, who falls for her magnetic energy, only to get burned in the end. Underneath the story of Caroline ripping up the floors of her pill-strewn Cambridge apartment and the mysterious disappearance of some Yale plates (#WhereAreThePlates), is a story about a toxic friendship coming to its logical conclusion. Ultimately, it’s a very common story, with a pretty filter over top.

The relationship Natalie describes between herself and Calloway is one that was familiar not only to me, but to many of my friends. The toxic cocktail of jealousy, love, anger, fear, and desperation that Calloway inspired in Natalie was something we’d all felt at some point, towards someone we considered a friend. Were those toxic friends famous influencers who lost us thousands of dollars by failing to complete the terms of their book deal? No. But were those relationships similarly painful, traumatic, and difficult to end? Absolutely, yes. A lot has been made of toxic romantic relationships—how to spot them, how to get out of them, how to deal with them once they’re done—but the toxic friendship is the toxic relationship’s annoying younger cousin, and it can be just as hurtful and hard to process.

The end of my own toxic friendship took almost a year from when I realized the damage the relationship was doing in my life to when I finally decided to cut contact. One of my biggest epiphanies that led to my ending the relationship once and for all was when I realized I was behaving like someone who was being abused. I lied to my friend about where I was going because she’d get mad if I hung out with other people. I dreaded seeing her, but also desperately wanted her to be happy with me. I found myself daydreaming about something—anything—that would end the friendship, not realizing that I had the power to end it myself.

Like Natalie, my toxic friend brought out the worst in me. She made me feel small. She sucked me into her drama and made me responsible for her successes and failures. I was a worse friend to others because she was a bad friend to me. I hated her, but I also followed doggedly in her footsteps, begging to be included in the crazy adventure that was her life.

That’s not to absolve myself of any wrongdoing. Also like Natalie, I was as much a part of the relationship as my toxic friend. I encouraged some of her worst decision-making, watching on the sidelines as she blew up her own life time and time again, all because I thought it would make for a crazy story. I was the Gretchen to her Regina, and the most shameful parts of the whole relationship were the times when I watched her inflict her toxicity on other people and cheered it on. Because if she was losing her sh*t on someone else, she wasn’t losing her sh*t on me, right? When she broke into a boyfriend’s bedroom (multiple times) after they broke up, I laughed it off as her being crazy. When she broke into my bedroom after getting angry at me over text, I realized how frightening that type of “crazy” could be.

Who among us hasn’t met a magnetic person that they just couldn’t help but want to be around? One who gets close too quick, and the next thing you know you’re years deep in a friendship with someone who, based on your knowledge of true crime, might be a f*cking psychopath?

The story of Caroline Calloway is the story of an unhinged influencer who will stop at nothing to seem “relatable” to her followers. What’s funny to me is that the first thing that ever made her actually relatable was the one thing she tried to hide: a toxic relationship with a friend.

Images: carolinecalloway / Instagram; Nat_Beach / Twitter

UPDATED: Caroline Calloway Is Responding To ‘The Cut’ Essay

Before I even got a chance to post a painstaking piece in which I attempted to recap the latest Caroline Calloway drama, spurred by a recent essay in The Cut, I made the mistake of checking Instagram, and I saw that Caroline had uploaded what I assume to be the first of many rebuttals to Natalie Beach’s essay about their friendship (among other topics). To provide a brief recap: Caroline Calloway is an Instagram influencer (of what variety, I’m not entirely sure—travel? Writing? Both?). Natalie and Caroline were friends, Caroline became big on Instagram, and they collaborated on her Instagram captions, and later, on her memoir. This all blew up when Natalie wrote an essay for The Cut about what it was like working and living in Caroline’s shadow. At first, Caroline was directing her followers to her post and maintaining something of a middle ground. As time (read: all of about 12 hours) went on, she put increasingly more distance between herself and the piece. Now, she’s going full nuclear.

In an Instagram post, Caroline uploaded the photo that served as the article’s main image, and stated her intentions to basically eviscerate Natalie’s essay point by point.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Alright, guys. I just got out of therapy. I just read Natalie’s article. I feel stronger than I’ve ever been. And I’m ready to get to fucking WORK. Seven years ago I used Instagram to build a world on Instagram and a story about who I am. Now I’m going to use this same app to raze those things to the motherfucking ground—post by post. And build something better in their place. Something true. First order of business: Getting very fucking clear about which captions I had help with and which captions I wrote myself. It’s normal for writers to have editors and for artists to have friends who collaborate closely on projects and shape each other’s style. I refused to shamed for this. And because here’s the thing: Natalie didn’t write my captions FOR me. Never. Not once. We wrote them TOGETHER. And my best captions—the captions about Cambridge—I wrote BY MYSELF after our friendship had shaped me and helped me find my voice. Natalie is inextricable from my writing not because she is the mastermind behind my sentences but because my love for her and HER love of words shaped me into the writer that I am. Ok! Let’s get to it! This is going to be a tedious amount of posts back-to-back, but it needs to be done.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

She writes, “Alright, guys. I just got out of therapy. I just read Natalie’s article. I feel stronger than I’ve ever been. And I’m ready to get to fucking WORK. Seven years ago I used Instagram to build a world on Instagram and a story about who I am. Now I’m going to use this same app to raze those things to the motherfucking ground—post by post. And build something better in their place. Something true. First order of business: Getting very fucking clear about which captions I had help with and which captions I wrote myself. It’s normal for writers to have editors and for artists to have friends who collaborate closely on projects and shape each other’s style. I refused to shamed for this. And because here’s the thing: Natalie didn’t write my captions FOR me. Never. Not once. We wrote them TOGETHER. And my best captions—the captions about Cambridge—I wrote BY MYSELF after our friendship had shaped me and helped me find my voice. Natalie is inextricable from my writing not because she is the mastermind behind my sentences but because my love for her and HER love of words shaped me into the writer that I am. Ok! Let’s get to it! This is going to be a tedious amount of posts back-to-back, but it needs to be done.”

Translation: Buckle the f*ck up, because sh*t is about to get real.

Look, it’s normal for people to have help writing their captions. We all do it, right? We turn to our friends and ask, “what should my caption be?” But what happens when your friend asks you for input on her caption, but she’s getting paid to post content and you’re not? Right: this situation we’re in now.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I lied about the Yale plates because I was a liar at age twenty. And twenty-one. I slowed down at twenty-five because in order to quit Adderall I had to quit lying to myself about how addicted I was. But I didn’t lie to Natalie about the rainbow macarons and the Explore page. Nor did I lie to her about buying followers when I began my brand five years ago. I’ll walk you through that in my response piece—wherever it is published. I think my first choice would be selling a twin essay back to @thecut / @nymag to be bookends with Natalie’s. But I’m open to other options if any editors want to reach out to my manager @amkrasner . His email is in my bio. But in the meantime, I want to begin here. Instagram in 2012. The app was different and so was my account. All of these photos have been deleted because I didn’t feel that they “fit” with the vibe of “psychotic scammer” I was trying to put into the world. KIDDING! I was trying to be taken seriously as a writer and I thought these frivolous one-liner jokes with Pinterest aesthetics didn’t serve my larger purpose of telling stories online. So this is where my account really begins. But we can go back to those posts because this online archeological dog site has been destroyed. So let me show you the next best thing.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“I lied about the Yale plates because I was a liar at age twenty. And twenty-one. I slowed down at twenty-five because in order to quit Adderall I had to quit lying to myself about how addicted I was. But I didn’t lie to Natalie about the rainbow macarons and the Explore page. Nor did I lie to her about buying followers when I began my brand five years ago. I’ll walk you through that in my response piece—wherever it is published. I think my first choice would be selling a twin essay back to @thecut / @nymag to be bookends with Natalie’s. But I’m open to other options if any editors want to reach out to my manager @amkrasner . His email is in my bio. But in the meantime, I want to begin here. Instagram in 2012. The app was different and so was my account. All of these photos have been deleted because I didn’t feel that they “fit” with the vibe of “psychotic scammer” I was trying to put into the world. KIDDING! I was trying to be taken seriously as a writer and I thought these frivolous one-liner jokes with Pinterest aesthetics didn’t serve my larger purpose of telling stories online. So this is where my account really begins. But we can go back to those posts because this online archeological dog site has been destroyed. So let me show you the next best thing.”

Caroline gives us an answer to what is perhaps the most perplexing mystery of this whole saga: what happened to the Yale plates? Caroline doesn’t say, but we can surmise that she got rid of them, and then lied about it. Then, she plugs herself, basically, and frankly, I’m considering answering the call.

She also talks about how Instagram and her account have evolved since 2012, and she no longer has her old photos on her feed because they don’t fit her aesthetic anymore. Which brings us to her next post…

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Incredibly, what’s left of my Instagram account begins with one post from the Met (my actual first post ever) and then! The trip to London that Natalie talked about in her essay. It’s a relief to give these captions they deserve. All of these are: By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“Incredibly, what’s left of my Instagram account begins with one post from the Met (my actual first post ever) and then! The trip to London that Natalie talked about in her essay. It’s a relief to give these captions they deserve. All of these are: By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway”.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway Oh? And hey @businessinsider ? Could you stop using this photo of me twirling in the heart-shaped sunglasses as the cover photo of every fucking story you write about me. I think it’s really cringe, too, and imagine if someone published a story about you today AND THEN HEADLINED IT WITH YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING PHOTO FROM YOUR INSTAGRAM ~~~~SIX YEARS~~~~ AGO? No one deserves that.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway Oh? And hey @businessinsider ? Could you stop using this photo of me twirling in the heart-shaped sunglasses as the cover photo of every fucking story you write about me. I think it’s really cringe, too, and imagine if someone published a story about you today AND THEN HEADLINED IT WITH YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING PHOTO FROM YOUR INSTAGRAM ~~~~SIX YEARS~~~~ AGO? No one deserves that.” 

Yeesh, as someone who went through my own Instagram posts a few days ago, I can agree with this sentiment. The filters! The contrast! It was all so horrid back then. I would probably spiral too if my cringeworthy 2012 bangs made national news.

Caroline is now uploading a series of screenshots of her own grid, crediting both herself and Natalie for the captions (or giving Natalie full credit where applicable). I’m not going to embed all of the posts, because it’s repetitive and you’ll get the point pretty quickly, so here is one example:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway Pay special attention to the “How To Celebrate Fourth of July” caption. That one was more Natalie than me. And it is exceptionally funny.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway

Pay special attention to the “How To Celebrate Fourth of July” caption. That one was more Natalie than me. And it is exceptionally funny.”

I’ll continue to update if Caroline posts a more substantial response, but my take is this: yes, it’s sort of about the captions, because that is what Caroline built her loyal following off of. But it’s way more than that at this point: it’s about the overall picture that Natalie paints in her essay in The Cut. By zeroing in on the captions, this rebuttal is kind of missing the point. I’m eager to see what response Caroline pens in the outlet of her choosing, but for now I get the picture: Caroline took the pictures, and she and Natalie worked on the captions. And again, I’ve got to ask: why is such an ordinary practice such a massive deal?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

What I’m trying to do is create an infographic on my grid. This marks the year 2013. When you scroll through my account from now on I want to make it crystal fucking clear what Natalie helped me with and WHEN. I want you to be able to absorb this information even if you don’t click on a single post. And guess what! I don’t care if these posts don’t get good engagement and I don’t care if they drive away new followers! People who support me expressing myself freely and creatively on MY PERSONAL INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT are the only followers I want.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

The Yale plates have made an appearance. Someone please reach out to the plates for comment.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The summer of 2014 is when everything started coming together. I had finally found my voice as a writer. I no longer depended on Natalie to sign off before I posted something. I was writing stories that were important to me and I was getting feedback everyday about how important my stories were to the girls that read them. I had bought a couple tens of thousands of followers, which I had leveraged into a community of thousands of real followers. And it was growing. The reason was this: In the same way that I anticipated the trend towards long captions and using Instagram to tell the stories of our lives in real time, I also spotted the potential for Instagram ads from a mile away. It seems obvious now, but it was a breakthrough then and fucking brilliant when I realized I could pay these large accounts to post about me and target my ads to the kind of followers that I wanted! Because that was the thing. I didn’t want FOLLOWERS. I wanted READERS. So I bought ads with BOOK fandom accounts like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games; The Fault in Our Stars was big that summer. Paying for posts seemed like an outrageous idea at the time and the anonymous people who ran these accounts and whom I paid $10 an af thought I was throwing away my money. I gain 150,000 followers over the following summer. I didn’t know it then, but this summer in Sweden would be my most emotionally stable and creatively productive for the next five years. Only THIS SUMMER have I exceeded the levels of artistic output that I achieved that summer. Secluded in Sweden with Oscar that summer where midnight never comes and the end of summer vacation doesn’t come until October (!) I wrote and wrote and wrote.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

Now we start getting into the meat. And, for the record, I’m including all the captions just in case Caroline decides to delete all these posts.

“The summer of 2014 is when everything started coming together. I had finally found my voice as a writer. I no longer depended on Natalie to sign off before I posted something. I was writing stories that were important to me and I was getting feedback everyday about how important my stories were to the girls that read them. I had bought a couple tens of thousands of followers, which I had leveraged into a community of thousands of real followers. And it was growing.

The reason was this: In the same way that I anticipated the trend towards long captions and using Instagram to tell the stories of our lives in real time, I also spotted the potential for Instagram ads from a mile away.

It seems obvious now, but it was a breakthrough then and fucking brilliant when I realized I could pay these large accounts to post about me and target my ads to the kind of followers that I wanted! Because that was the thing. I didn’t want FOLLOWERS. I wanted READERS. So I bought ads with BOOK fandom accounts like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games; The Fault in Our Stars was big that summer. Paying for posts seemed like an outrageous idea at the time and the anonymous people who ran these accounts and whom I paid $10 an af thought I was throwing away my money. I gain 150,000 followers over the following summer.

I didn’t know it then, but this summer in Sweden would be my most emotionally stable and creatively productive for the next five years. Only THIS SUMMER have I exceeded the levels of artistic output that I achieved that summer. Secluded in Sweden with Oscar that summer where midnight never comes and the end of summer vacation doesn’t come until October (!) I wrote and wrote and wrote.”

If this is true, I have to give props. I didn’t even get on Instagram until like, 2014, and never cared to consider if, in the future, it might become an advertising platform and way to make money. And, frankly? So many people buy followers nowadays that nobody would bat an eye. Maybe Caroline was a visionary who was ahead of the times. Or maybe, as my dad says, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I announce a book coming in 2016–then two years away in 2014. I start setting up meetings with literary for when I’m back in New York. I don’t know how a girl publishes a book, but I know I can make it happen. I do not know my increasing Adderlal usage will become a problem. I meet with literary agents and sign with Byrd Leavell that spring. Back at college I hardly post. Not because the workload for my degree is intense (it is) but because every time I put something online everyone in school screenshots it and makes fun of what I write writing. “Like bad fan fiction of bad fan fiction,” is an excellently-written British insult I got during that time that will be seared on my brain until the day I die. No one at Cambridge—not my peers and definitely not my professors but not even my friends—see what so am building as an asset. Only my Mom, Oscar, Byrd, and Kelsey take me seriously when I talk about my Instagram captions. I manage to crank out a few captions that spring anyways while still in England. I spend months writing each one and each one feels like a terrifying triumph once it goes live.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“I announce a book coming in 2016–then two years away in 2014.

I start setting up meetings with literary for when I’m back in New York. I don’t know how a girl publishes a book, but I know I can make it happen. I do not know my increasing Adderlal usage will become a problem.

I meet with literary agents and sign with Byrd Leavell that spring. Back at college I hardly post. Not because the workload for my degree is intense (it is) but because every time I put something online everyone in school screenshots it and makes fun of what I write writing. “Like bad fan fiction of bad fan fiction,” is an excellently-written British insult I got during that time that will be seared on my brain until the day I die. No one at Cambridge—not my peers and definitely not my professors but not even my friends—see what so am building as an asset.

Only my Mom, Oscar, Byrd, and Kelsey take me seriously when I talk about my Instagram captions.

I manage to crank out a few captions that spring anyways while still in England. I spend months writing each one and each one feels like a terrifying triumph once it goes live.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

November 6th, 2015: The first time I publicly talk about Natalie being my editor. I flat-out tag her in a post because I feel sick to my stomach with guilt. But I make one very enormous lie. We co-wrote the book proposal. She edited my captions six years ago. But we CO-WROTE that proposal.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“November 6th, 2015: The first time I publicly talk about Natalie being my editor. I flat-out tag her in a post because I feel sick to my stomach with guilt. But I make one very enormous lie. We co-wrote the book proposal. She edited my captions six years ago. But we CO-WROTE that proposal.”

Finally, some admission of wrongdoing or guilt. It took us numerous posts, but we got it.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

2015-2016 are big years for me career-wise and addiction-wise. Byrd has told me that in order to sell my book for the amount of money I want to sell it for I need PRESS. It seems crazy now as I couldn’t stop reporters from writing about me if I tried. But over those two years I send out hundreds of cold-call emails pitching myself to reporters, begging them to write about me. Finally the Daily Mail does a story on me and from there is snowballs. Once I get one article about me, I get twenty. By this point I’m taking so much Adderall I have to wear a coat at all time because all the amphetamine is doing something weird to my heart and my limbs get cold otherwise. This is, incredibly, not rock bottom. I still have a full calendar year of addiction left ahead of me and the apparent unraveling of my book. From Instagram, things still look okay.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“2015-2016 are big years for me career-wise and addiction-wise. Byrd has told me that in order to sell my book for the amount of money I want to sell it for I need PRESS. It seems crazy now as I couldn’t stop reporters from writing about me if I tried. But over those two years I send out hundreds of cold-call emails pitching myself to reporters, begging them to write about me. Finally the Daily Mail does a story on me and from there is snowballs. Once I get one article about me, I get twenty. By this point I’m taking so much Adderall I have to wear a coat at all time because all the amphetamine is doing something weird to my heart and my limbs get cold otherwise. This is, incredibly, not rock bottom. I still have a full calendar year of addiction left ahead of me and the apparent unraveling of my book. From Instagram, things still look okay.”

Next, Caroline writes in a subsequent Instagram post that she gets a new profile pic and keeps trying to get press for herself. In another post, she screenshots a New York Times article that ultimately concludes that she is not a scammer. It seems she may be done defending herself for the night, but if you’ve read so far, here is a quick recap:

-Caroline is pointing out which captions she wrote and which ones she got help with
-She admits that Natalie co-wrote her book proposal, which she lied about
-She says she buckled under the pressure, brought on in part by her classmates’ mockery of her Instagram
-She confesses she was in the throes of an Adderall addiction during the time she was supposed to be writing her memoir

And that’s about it for right now! Truthfully, it’s all I can handle. And for those of you who are asking “why are people talking about this?” may I kindly direct you to my first article?

Update 9/12: Last night, Caroline posted screenshots to her feed of other publications’ writeups about her. (I am sad that mine didn’t make the list). Then, this morning, she posted a collage NBC made of her, with another long-ass caption that is riddled with typos and grammatical errors.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Going to keep working on the giant infographic I’m making on my grid tomorrow. I just have four more posts for it planned. I came so close to finishing it all in one day, but excellent progress was made here. You may not like it or think that it’s important or say that I’m manic or spiraling or melting-down. And that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion although I ask kindly that you go express your concern somewhere else. I know what I am making and I have a creative vision that I will execute. Anyone long-time readers who have seen me cranking out 6-9 long captions A DAY since JUNE know that during this chapter of my life (so just this summer) it is very standard for me to be making up for the years I didn’t post and spending six hours a day on Instagram. Building a body of work on here that satisfies and thrills me is a top priority. If people can appreciate what I am doing that is only a bonus on top of feeling creatively engaged. Thank you, NBC need for this weird turquoise collage. I actually really don’t mind the cringey photo of me twirling in that dress when it’s integrated with photos of me now. No matter what I do, I will always have been that cringey person. It’s just nice to see her integrated into the cringey person I am now. OH DID YOU THINK I DIDNT KNOW THAT IT’S FUCKING WEIRD TO REPOST YOUR WHOLE INSTAGRAM WITHIN THE MEDIUM OF YOUR INSTAGRAM? I don’t care. I mean—obviously I do care. I am a cringey person who cares a whole lot and hat is just my truth. But one of my greatest super powers is that I never let my strobing desire to be liked get in the way of being true to who I am. I think this grid-wide infographic re-cap is fascinating and significant for my readers and cool. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to writing my response for @thecut . Working title: “I Am Caroline Calloway.”

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“Going to keep working on the giant infographic I’m making on my grid tomorrow. I just have four more posts for it planned. I came so close to finishing it all in one day, but excellent progress was made here.

You may not like it or think that it’s important or say that I’m manic or spiraling or melting-down. And that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion although I ask kindly that you go express your concern somewhere else. I know what I am making and I have a creative vision that I will execute. Anyone long-time readers who have seen me cranking out 6-9 long captions A DAY since JUNE know that during this chapter of my life (so just this summer) it is very standard for me to be making up for the years I didn’t post and spending six hours a day on Instagram.

Building a body of work on here that satisfies and thrills me is a top priority. If people can appreciate what I am doing that is only a bonus on top of feeling creatively engaged.

Thank you, NBC need for this weird turquoise collage. I actually really don’t mind the cringey photo of me twirling in that dress when it’s integrated with photos of me now. No matter what I do, I will always have been that cringey person. It’s just nice to see her integrated into the cringey person I am now.

OH DID YOU THINK I DIDNT KNOW THAT IT’S FUCKING WEIRD TO REPOST YOUR WHOLE INSTAGRAM WITHIN THE MEDIUM OF YOUR INSTAGRAM? I don’t care. I mean—obviously I do care. I am a cringey person who cares a whole lot and hat is just my truth. But one of my greatest super powers is that I never let my strobing desire to be liked get in the way of being true to who I am. I think this grid-wide infographic re-cap is fascinating and significant for my readers and cool.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to writing my response for @thecut . Working title: “I Am Caroline Calloway.”

So basically, there’s going to be some big infographic that will explain all. (You’ll notice, as this thing goes on, I have less and less patience for this stunt.) Caroline acting like writing 6-9 long Instagram captions per day (that nobody in 2019 wants to read) is arduous work is, frankly, laughable. Especially when those captions are riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and incorrect words. Also of note is that Caroline is supposedly working on a piece for The Cut, though I can’t tell if that statement is serious or just a joke. If she does manage to write a rebuttal, I sincerely hope they will publish it, and I genuinely can’t wait to read it. This is my life now: following the ramblings of an influencer whose fame I grasp but do not truly understand. I will die amongst the word vomit of Caroline’s captions. Just leave me here.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Yesterday on my phone as my manager was prepping me for interviews because we are in a media SHITSTORM right now he said, “Whatever you do, you just gotta stop saying that you still love Natalie. No one believes you.” But the truth is I do. More than ever. When we were still best friends I don’t think I even saw her clearly enough to love her because I didn’t see the real her. She didn’t share it with me and I was too wrapped up in my addiction and early twenties to make enough emotional space for her that would have fostered a good environment for sharing. I loved her brilliance and her humor and her strength, but I now I love the anger and insecurity and jealousy, too, that I never saw until now. I have a lot of other, messy, CONFLICTING emotions as well, like anger and betrayal. But I keep coming back to the love. Or it keeps coming back to me. I’m publishing a photo with Natalie’s face in it because she just gave an interview to The New York Times where she included a photo with both our faces. Notes: One, fucking leave Natalie alone with those comments about the food. I remember eating pesto minestrone with her, okay? Natalie’s not a journalist. She’s a fucking ARTIST. Ditto the pencil shop. Two, I know every editor in New York—the publishing capital of America and arguably the English speaking world—fucking follows me. So. Guys. WHO IS GIVING NATALIE A BOOK DEAL? WHO IS GOING TO PY HER TO WRITE HER NEXT FREELANCE PIECE? HER INBOX IS ALREADY FILLING UP. BE QUICK! She deserves these jobs because she’s the best writer I know. But I have power in this situation and I intend to use it to help her even though we are no longer friends. Her highly anticipated personal essay for The Cut would not have taken off it were not SUPERB. But it was highly anticipated because I made it so. The feelings I wrote about feeling were real. But I made a choice to feel them publicly. Natalie’s hitting the home runs. Could she hit home runs in a rainstorm? YES. But I am trying to give her sunshine to bat in. I meant it that first day when I told her she was beautiful. Her eyes are pale green.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

“Yesterday on my phone as my manager was prepping me for interviews because we are in a media SHITSTORM right now he said, “Whatever you do, you just gotta stop saying that you still love Natalie. No one believes you.” But the truth is I do. More than ever. When we were still best friends I don’t think I even saw her clearly enough to love her because I didn’t see the real her. She didn’t share it with me and I was too wrapped up in my addiction and early twenties to make enough emotional space for her that would have fostered a good environment for sharing. I loved her brilliance and her humor and her strength, but I now I love the anger and insecurity and jealousy, too, that I never saw until now.

I have a lot of other, messy, CONFLICTING emotions as well, like anger and betrayal. But I keep coming back to the love. Or it keeps coming back to me.

I’m publishing a photo with Natalie’s face in it because she just gave an interview to The New York Times where she included a photo with both our faces.

Notes:

One, fucking leave Natalie alone with those comments about the food. I remember eating pesto minestrone with her, okay? Natalie’s not a journalist. She’s a fucking ARTIST. Ditto the pencil shop.

Two, I know every editor in New York—the publishing capital of America and arguably the English speaking world—fucking follows me. So.

Guys.
WHO IS GIVING NATALIE A BOOK DEAL?

WHO IS GOING TO PY HER TO WRITE HER NEXT FREELANCE PIECE?

HER INBOX IS ALREADY FILLING UP. BE QUICK!

She deserves these jobs because she’s the best writer I know. But I have power in this situation and I intend to use it to help her even though we are no longer friends. Her highly anticipated personal essay for The Cut would not have taken off it were not SUPERB. But it was highly anticipated because I made it so. The feelings I wrote about feeling were real. But I made a choice to feel them publicly. Natalie’s hitting the home runs. Could she hit home runs in a rainstorm? YES. But I am trying to give her sunshine to bat in.

I meant it that first day when I told her she was beautiful. Her eyes are pale green.” 

Okay, now I’m convinced this entire thing was a marketing plot for both these women. On the one hand, bravo. This seems like exactly the type of stunt that someone who basically made her own targeted Instagram ads in 2012 would come up with. Of course I’m annoyed for falling for it.

In all seriousness, do I think Natalie and Caroline faked a falling out so that they could get publicity 7 years after the fact? Obviously not. But they are milking it for all it’s worth. And now, I think I can exclude myself from this overwrought, typo-riddled narrative without reservation. We all get the gist. This is a one-sided back-and-forth of Caroline’s creation. Until she posts any sort of coherent rebuttal, I think we’ve learned everything we need to know here.

Images: carolinecalloway / Instagram

What’s Going On With Caroline Calloway And Natalie Beach?

I don’t know a ton about many influencers. I follow a lot of meme accounts and people I know, plus a few of the obvious ones (Kayla Itsines, Chiara Ferragni, Flavia Charallo, etc.). This is to say that I regularly don’t get the hype about a lot of these people. Talking and writing about their drama feels like waking up from a multi-year coma. Caroline Calloway is one such case. She has a lot of followers, and frankly, I didn’t understand why. She has the feed of pretty much any girl you went to college with who doesn’t care about her Instagram aesthetic—but the girl you went to college with would have at most 800 followers. Caroline has almost 800,000.

I first learned who she was in January of this year, when she was likened to a female Billy McFarland. Now, that I could get into. Right at the height of the Fyre Fest documentaries, as Anna Delvey was gearing up for trial, I had a thirst for more scams. So yeah, I was interested to read about an influencer who shirked a book deal, owed her publisher over a hundred grand, and then tried to charge $165/head for a series of workshops that promised participants vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free salads and ended with them being asked to bring a bag lunch. That was my introduction to Caroline.

After a series of cancellations that garnered national attention, Caroline did eventually hold her workshops, which she cheekily called “The Scam”. Anna Iovine described it to Vice as basically a creative writing workshop with white wine (that was purchased from nearby liquor stores while the event was going on), plus a meet-and-greet and photo opp. Hardly a one-of-a-kind event, but not exactly Fyre Festival. Since then, she mostly remained out of the news until earlier this week, when Caroline herself revealed on her Instagram that there was going to be an essay about her published in The Cut, written by none other than her own ex-best friend and former ghost writer, Natalie Beach.

For those who haven’t been following Caroline since the beginning, she and Natalie met their sophomore year of college, and quickly started working together. Once Caroline started her Instagram, Natalie ghost wrote her captions, and later, tried to help ghost write her memoir. I gather, mostly from Instagram comments and general internet chatter, that Natalie’s presence and existence was known to Caroline’s followers. While Caroline grew her account that, at its height, boasted over 800,000 followers (today she’s rocking with 786k), she was the face and Natalie was the voice. Or at least, Natalie helped craft it. Caroline even references Natalie in some of her old captions. The new part that was perhaps not known (certainly not to Caroline’s publishers, at least) was that Natalie was also the one crafting Caroline’s memoir, and that that memoir was more fiction than nonfiction.

So when news came out that Natalie would be telling her own story in The Cut, there was a freakout among Caroline Calloway stans, grifter enthusiasts, and Calloway herself. She started posting about the article about a week before, naturally apprehensive about what would be written about her. The day before the essay was released, she detailed a conversation with a NY Mag fact checker in (where else?) the captions of one of her posts.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I just got off the phone with a fact checker from New York Magazine. She said that the article will come out today or tomorrow and that she can’t tell me who the editor is because she’s “not at liberty to say.” I didn’t even know that was a question I wasn’t allowed to ask. Right now I feel afraid. I am afraid of being judged for memories that I still haven’t forgiven myself for. I am afraid of being hated. I am afraid of feeling shame. This phone call lasted 45 minutes and it was awful. Her asking me about the most shameful ways I have hurt others and me repeating over and over again, “If Natalie remembers it, it must be true.” I don’t have a lot of memories from the four years I was increasingly addicted to Adderall. I know amphetamine abuse doesn’t cause memory loss. But memories are formed while you are sleeping and sleeping is the one thing I didn’t do during that time. My normal waking day was 72 hours. Like, I just had two periods of darkness during the normal day I would be awake. But I do know this: I had no concept during that time of how my actions affected others. Nothing I do or say or create now that I’m no longer addicted to Adderall will ever fix that. I am still learning how to live with this truth. The worst part wasn’t reliving my lowest moments with a stranger or knowing that these stories are about to be made very public any minute now. It was this question: “Natalie says the last time you saw each other you met up for lunch with the man she is going to marry and you were late.” I didn’t know she was engaged. I never thought I would find out like this, from a nymag fact-checker on the phone, before Natalie publishes an article about me. “If Natalie remembers it, it must be true.”

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

Caroline seemed nervous, preparing everyone for the worst. What would be revealed about her? The article dropped, and frankly? None of it surprises me. You should definitely read the whole thing, but basically, it reads like any tale of an unbalanced friendship: the charismatic, good-looking friend takes advantage of the shy, average-looking friend. Caroline cries over a gift Natalie gives her (#YalePlates), then one day mysteriously claims they were stolen. She locks Natalie out of their Airbnb on a trip to Amsterdam when she thought Natalie would be having a one night stand. In short, she acts like a pretty crappy friend, all while benefitting off of Natalie’s work. But the interesting part, though? From Natalie’s account, none of her involvement was coerced. There was never a point where Natalie wanted to quit and Caroline begged her to stay.

What’s happening right now is a small-grade sh*t storm between everyone who’s read The Cut article and Caroline, who is alternating between supporting Natalie and defending herself on Instagram. “If Natalie says it, it musts be true,” she repeats on refrain in the caption of a photo detailing her conversation with NY Mag’s fact checker. At this point, she hasn’t tried to deny Natalie’s accusations—she was apparently addicted to Adderall at the time and would stay up for 72-hour stretches, which she says probably impacted her memory. She also put the link to The Cut article in her bio, directing her followers right to it rather than trying to obscure it. These are either the actions of a true friend who’s remorseful for her actions and trying to make amends, or a very good PR maneuver. Or just someone who’s acting on pure emotion without a strategy. It’s hard to tell.

Natalie, for her part, doesn’t come out of this unscathed. The Cut readers are coming for in the comments section over her writing, her looks, and her inability to extract herself from what was clearly, to us outsiders with no personal investment, a toxic relationship. Caroline takes aim in particular at her for recounting a moment where Caroline may have been suicidal—Natalie recalls that Caroline forbade her from ghost writing any more of her memoir, threatening suicide if she continued. She posted a text conversation with either a NY Mag fact checker or editor about this line.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

TW: Suicide. I’ve never talked about the chapters of my life when I struggled with suicide on the internet before today and I didn’t want you to find out like this. But now you know. I’ve only read two lines of Natalie’s article so far—my plan is to read it for the first time tomorrow with my therapist. But my manager texted me this line of hers: “It’s been surreal watching this unfold from my desk job in Los Angeles, but I’m not surprised she’s taken an essay of mine that didn’t exist yet and turned it into a narrative for herself.” I wrote about Natalie’s upcoming article because I guessed that by using my access to the largest audience of people interested in Caroline Calloway—an audience only I have access to—I could ramp up anticipation. I hope impressions are through the fucking roof. Every boost helps. But ultimately I talked about what Natalie’s article meant to ME on this Instagram account because this is a space where I tell stories about ME. That’s the whole schtick here. I write about my life—and if I can make my art and express myself AND help my friends, I do. I don’t resent Natalie for revealing that I was suicidal in her essay. It’s not black or white. Both of these things are true: I wish people hadn’t found out like this AND Natalie’s stories deserve to be told. It must have been so hard for Natalie to have a friend who cared more about getting high than supporting her and didn’t really care about staying alive at all! I only found out about this line because @christinareaddd pointed it out to me. She’s sitting with me in my apartment right now with @p_izza220 . “So?” I said after she had finished reading it. “Yeah, um, the first thing that jumped out at me is that heard you on the phone with the fact-checking lady and this was the only thing you wanted clarified, but they didn’t fix it.” I knew she meant the suicide thing. She had been sitting next to me on the floor as I talked on the phone. Most of it had been: “If Natalie remembers it, it must be true.” And then: “Hold on. The thing about suicide…” I looked away from Christina as I said it. The lady from The Cut was nice and said she understands and she’d pass my message along.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

She said: “I don’t resent Natalie for revealing that I was suicidal in her essay. It’s not black or white. Both of these things are true: I wish people hadn’t found out like this AND Natalie’s stories deserve to be told.”

On its face, it’s f*cked up to reveal that someone struggled with suicidal thoughts—regardless of whether or not that person was your friend. But that’s not a full picture. Even on Caroline’s own Instagram, the comments on the post are quick to point out the oversimplification of this statement.

“Girl, I’m sure that time was genuinely really hard for you,” wrote one commenter, “but that line in the article wasn’t about you being suicidal and doesn’t imply that you were actually going to take your life. It’s pretty clearly a shocking example of something you did that was manipulative and abusive, which you did in order to get Natalie and the publishers to give you want you wanted but wouldn’t for for.”

One commenter took it a step further. “You seem to imply that Natalie is the one who told your secret, that you were at one point suicidal. Except that you already put it in your own Instagram when the book deal fell through. You wrote in your revised proposal, that is pictured on your feed and has been for a while, that you were thinking of suicide because of an abusive friend. While having some secrets spilled is not fun, are they really secrets when you posted about it already?”

To sum it up, the gist of what’s happening here is two women who formed a friendship with a vastly unequal power dynamic had a falling out, and that fallout is playing out on the public stage. At press time, Caroline has yet to read The Cut article, but she posted on Instagram that she would be reading with her therapist and writing some sort of response.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I feel like that photo of Meghan Markle’s father at a FedEx just before her wedding. Unfortunately I am not Meghan Markle in this similie, but her toxic sociopathic father! Is this what you came here for, new followers? He staged those photos and I took this selfie for my Instagram. Does that make me toxic? Is this proof that I have no control over my storytelling on Instagram? Is there a difference between “can’t stop” writing about myself on Instagram because I’m addicted to it and “won’t stop” because I find meaning in it and I refuse to quite just because other people don’t like the things I create or me? I honestly don’t know. I feel really weird right now. I just walked into a FedEx in downtown Manhattan and googled myself so I could print out a copy of Natalie’s article to read for the first time today with my therapist. I mean WHAT? this is an odd day. When I pulled up the news results for me I saw that this story had already been picked up by Jezebel, Business Insider, Cosmo… Even the New Haven Register. Last night my name was trending at third on Twitter in the United States. I don’t know what today will hold. It’s barely 11 AM. But I’ve already been awake for hours. I got up at the crack of dawn to go to pilates, spin class, and the sauna. Someone gave me wise advice last night and said: Whatever you do tomorrow, EXERCIZE. That one hour will affect the other 23 hours of your day. So I made it two hours because I wanted to push myself and now my mind is feeling loose and light and bright. After therapy’s done I’ll beginning writing my response to her essay. I have some things to say.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

Caroline Calloway has been lumped in with some serious fraudsters, but is that really an accurate depiction? Parts of Natalie’s story seemed like they could have been ripped straight out of My Friend AnnaRachel DeLoache Williams’ memoir of her friendship with the infamous Soho grifter (the wealth inequity, the meek friend captivated like a moth to a flame by the confident friend’s glow and entitlement, the buckling of the friendship on an international trip). Still, to call her a straight-up Anna Delvey is a bit of an oversimplification. There’s the obvious detail that Caroline didn’t exactly defraud anyone to the tune of millions of dollars—yes, she spent hundreds of thousands of what was supposed to be her book advance, though she said that she’s working out a deal with the publisher to pay that back. But when her tour was clearly a fail, she issued refunds, even to people who had already attended the New York events. She did deceive her followers and publisher by claiming she happened upon Instagram fame on a lark, when in reality she implemented a clear strategy, and bought followers, in order to gain an initial Instagram presence. And her characterization in The Cut essay, plus the way she’s spiraling on social media now, don’t exactly help defend against claims that she is manipulative.

I’m not on Caroline’s side—I’m not on anyone’s side, really. She’s a rich white girl who got a book deal even though she apparently couldn’t write, and earned a reputation as a scammer when she couldn’t even scam. Even Natalie admits in her essay that if Caroline is a scammer, her first mark is herself. As much as I want to call Caroline the next millennial grifter icon, I think this is just the story of a sh*tty rich friend who may have narcissistic qualities. Part of the reason this back-and-forth is so captivating is that we’ve probably all been the Natalie to someone’s Caroline. But, just like I don’t understand Caroline’s following, I also don’t understand why this is that big a deal. I guess because it whets our appetite for 2019’s favorite pastimes: fraudsters, influencers, and general messiness. But if you remove the Instagram followers and the book deal, it’s a pretty ordinary story about a pretty ordinary happening—that is, two friends having a blowout and going no-contact. I can’t blame The Cut for capitalizing on it (in fact, I’m a little salty I couldn’t do it), but I can question what the hell is going on in all of our lives (mine included) that we are so invested in this.