Literally No One Is An Insider

Photograph by Andy Fillmore via Filth & Wisdom


Dear Lea Michele,

A few years ago, I experienced for the first time being seen as an insider of sorts. I’d written a post about body image, which somehow aligned me with a group of body-neurotic, waxy Weho boys (for you non-gays out there, basically a “Weho boy” is a mean popular Gay who is accepted by all the other mean popular Gays, at least as I understand it). A lot of the comments on that post seemed to be coming from the perspective of people who felt alienated from the mainstream body-obsession that is so prevalent in the gay community (and the female community, and, increasingly, in the straight male community. WHY CAN’T I STOP SAYING ‘COMMUNITY’?). That first instance of being thought of as a mainstreamer was uncomfortable, mainly because my whole life I’ve seen myself as kind of an outsider, a totally huge weirdo who grew up in the woods and studied art. Over the past few years as I’ve gotten to work with more high-profile people, the instances – random strangers assuming I am part of some elite inner circle – have multiplied.

I’m not writing this to be like “hey I’m famous my life is so weird!” I’m writing it because I think a lot of us are faced with these kinds of misperceptions about what our lives actually are vs. what our lives seem like online. To this day, I have no idea if my family really understands that my life isn’t exactly as it unfolds on Facebook. They seem to think I’m some fancy person that just runs around doing fancy things all the time. Facebook, and a lot of social media sites, are really only good for sharing certain kinds of information. You’re not going to share a picture of the cockroach you just found in the shower on Instagram. You share only the pretty moments. This editing can be strangely alienating to people, because it makes them feel like their lives are less-than. I even struggle with this on this blog, trying to balance my HAY I’M A HUMAN I HAVE FEELINGS posts with other, more lighthearted posts that are less depressing. Not that my life is super depressing, just I do have regular everyday problems I don’t necessarily think would be productive or interesting to talk about.

This week, I’m in Miami to attend Art Basel. I know this sounds insanely fancy and insidery of me, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I met my friend Erika 14 years ago in college. She is from Miami and told me about this crazy art fair that happened there (it was much less sceney then, apparently). While here I am staying at her family’s lovely aqua-green mid-century ranch house, working during the day, checking out the art fairs when time allows, meeting up with some Homepolish colleagues, and getting into the holiday spirit with Erika’s family, who I love.

I’m sure from what I post online it might seem like I’m a well-connected, privileged, insider who somehow magically gets to go to all these amazing events. But that’s predominantly a construction, partially by me, because I want to share happy, inspirational things with the world. And partially by the reader, who might assume things are easier and more perfect than they really are. Yes, I am lucky to be here and lucky to be able to be looking at art or going to whatever fun party is dumb enough to let me in, but ultimately there’s a million other places I won’t be invited, and part of me still feel, somehow, like an outsider.

The internet, and before that magazines and just media in general, tricks us into thinking that there are people involved in some sort of elite, as if one “elite” exists in real life. This trickles down to our own communities, where we imagine that somehow, magically, everyone aside from us fits into some magical group, where their friendships are assured and unquestioned, where they feel a sense of belonging.

I’ve thought about this more and more as I’ve met more and more high-profile people, through my previous work in the entertainment industry and my current work collaborating with celebrities (some of whom I can speak about, some of whom are top-secret). It’s often surprising to see how vulnerable the super-rich and super-famous can be, how they, too, wish to be invited to places they aren’t invited to. How they too think they’re being overlooked or left out (unless they’re Jennifer Lawrence, who I’m pretty sure is never left out anything, or at least won’t be for the next 17 months). It’s sad, and also kind of reassuring, to think that those we’d imagine being at the pinnacle of social success still sometimes feel that lack of belonging from which we imagine their social status protects them.

My purpose in writing this is to expose the fallacy that there is a group of people out there that feel included, always. If you’re that type of person that is reading this, thinking that it’s coming from someone who never doubts his social status, never feels left out, who can just easily slide into whatever event or group he wants to, that’s incorrect. Actually, it’s highly likely someone else sees you that way. Or maybe it’s not me you’re projecting onto. Maybe it’s some rando you went to high school with who’s life seems perfect, whose social situation seems unblemished. Nobody’s life is what it looks like online.

So I guess the point is that there is no one is truly a member of the “in-crowd” because the “in-crowd” doesn’t exist. Or maybe it does and we’re all, unknowingly, immersed in it.


18 thoughts on “Literally No One Is An Insider

  1. Orlando, I’ve been following you with a stalker like appreciation and joy since the article you mention above. Your incredibly warm and human style of expression, delivery of content in an intelligent and jocular manner, and playful humor have proven that you have earned that which you’ve accomplished. Having the perspective to realize how others perceive themselves is a special talent that not everyone possesses or is able to achieve and I hope your career and path continue to bring you in #victim territory so that you may continue to share with us all. IN OTHER WORDS, DON’T STOP OR I WILL DEBASE ALL YOUR PINECONES.

  2. Just one hour ago I was having lunch with a friend (which never happens! All this “everyone else is having all these lunches” kind of thinking is a myth!) and we said, “What if being an adult is simply the process of slowly un-believing everything you thought was true in high school?”

    Your words are right on the money, Orlando. As usual.

  3. Thank you for this. You articulated for me what I often thought but don’t express quite as well as you do. Hence you are the blogger and I am not 😉 (Okay, that is a lie. I just haven’t blogged in many moons)
    Also why since Thanksgiving and more importantly in 2015 I am making a concious effort to have more people over. To do more Taco Tuesdays and at least once a month. To, do more life, with more people. Because I can’t talk about my career frustrations on Facebook but if I have people over to dinner, I am probably going to open up. You are also likely to see that I don’t dust as often as I should and while I love to style (hence why I read decor blogs) my house certainly doesn’t look like that 100% of the time (or even, dare I say 25% of the time!). The solution then to the highlight reel of Facebook is to invite people to feature in your reel.

  4. Following a friend I haven’t seen in years on Facebook this summer I felt I wasn’t having nearly as much fun as her. She was visiting all sorts of friends, lots of parties. Then I heard she had found out she had advanced colon cancer and was seeing friends for possibly the last time. We just don’t see the whole story.
    Thanks for sharing yourself this way. It makes all your hilarious comments even better!

  5. You know, my daughter is suffering through being made to feel not part of the (self proclaimed no less) ‘in’ crowd at her new school and I just wish I could paste these words right into her head. I wish I realised this before my forties as well! Well said. That last line is magic.

  6. you are a dear and lovely person,
    I wish I could let my guard down sometimes to “be” with who I am with, seems like I am waiting for the next bad thing to happen

  7. Bravo Orlando – for realising it, and saying it. And, while I’m here – thank you for all the times you make me laugh out loud (and the interiors porn, too).

  8. This is, of course, a universal reality. Kindergarten, High-School, University, Art-World, Business-World, Banking-World, Politics- working at a supermarket. People create images, feels, personas. Some do it better than others. Some succeed when others don’t.
    It’s simply part of how the world works. We contribute to the (our own) hype, and then we pay a price when it turns out to be true. At the end of the day, if we can admit we’ve had a pretty decent time all things considered, then it’s all okay.
    At this stage of the game, there isn’t a single day when I don’t wake up and say to myself, “not too bad, weirdo; not bad at all.”

  9. Hmmm…I have never been part of the “in” crowd. Never really wanted to. But as I have gotten older I have noticed that a lot of the “in” crowd has a lot more depth to them than what they are wearing, where they live and where they are going. My prejudices has stopped me from getting to know some interesting people. I am changing my ways.

  10. Very on point. I constantly feel that I’m not having as much fun as the people I read about and see online or know in real life. It gets into my head, is fairly unpleasant, and darn right discouraging. Gotta snap out of it…
    Nice to know that someone else feels this way!

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