The Big Mood: Car­o­line Cal­loway, a very mil­len­ni­al saga

One week, one mood: Moya Lothian-Mclean’s deep-dive into the feel of the week.

By 2019, we’ve worked out that pos­si­bly the ultra curat­ed pho­to-spreads we post to Insta­gram are, per­haps, not always rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the grub­by banal­i­ty that colours our day-to-day exis­tence (except mine of course, so can­did, all nat­ur­al, I real­ly am that perfect). 

No one embod­ies this disin­ge­nu­ity more than Car­o­line Cal­loway, a very ordi­nary influ­encer who some­how has achieved extra­or­di­nary white hot inter­net fame via the per­fect storm of:

i) an (albeit unsub­stan­ti­at­ed) scam­ming scan­dal.

ii) a very pub­lic dis­in­te­gra­tion which revealed the pre­scrip­tion pill addic­tion and infi­deli­ty behind most of the Oxbridge-porn pics that gained her an ini­tial audience.

ii) and now, the cher­ry on top: a per­son­al essay pub­lished on The Cut by for­mer friend and ghost­writer’ (does writ­ing cloy­ing Insta­gram cap­tions now qual­i­fy you as a ghost­writer? If so, I am owed back pay­ments by sev­er­al peo­ple), Natal­ie Beach.

The essay said noth­ing new or inci­sive about either Car­o­line or the pol­i­tics of female friend­ship in gen­er­al. It was not-par­tic­u­lar­ly good writ­ing about a not-par­tic­u­lar­ly good relationship. 

Natal­ie lobbed a litany of accu­sa­tions, which I sup­pose were meant to be proof of Car­o­line being The Worst Friend Ever, but most­ly just con­firmed her to be scat­ty and priv­i­leged (do rich white girls real­ly need more atten­tion? Real­ly?) but lit­tle else. While there was def­i­nite thought­less­ness and an exploita­tive dynam­ic to the rela­tion­ship (see Car­o­line ask­ing Natal­ie to act as a paid concierge, rather than let her sub­let her apart­ment), oth­er inci­dents read mere­ly as mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tions — like Car­o­line falling asleep after think­ing her friend was hav­ing an all-night tryst with a Dutch bar­tender and acci­den­tal­ly lock­ing Natal­ie out while on a Euro­pean jaunt. 

What instead shone through the essay was a much small­er, sad­der tale. It was one of a self-pro­fessed ugly duck­ling who was drawn into the orbit of some­one they per­ceived to be shinier, but lat­er grew to resent the unbal­anced friend­ship they had built. That and the messy real­i­ty (and exposed wood floor­ing) that squat­ted behind the idyl­lic Ins­ta cap­tions they cre­at­ed together. 

I think at times, we have all felt the sharp pang of envy as we watched some­one who we deemed to be more – more beau­ti­ful, clev­er­er, more charis­mat­ic, wealth­i­er, more any­thing than us – nav­i­gate the world in ways we could only dream of. Some of us learned to shelve that bit­ter­ness, to uproot our­selves from friend­ships that shrunk us, to unfol­low influ­encers who caused us to look at our reflec­tions with a lit­tle less char­i­ty and joy, rather than live life in the shade of oth­ers. And to remem­ber that how­ev­er per­fect we might con­sid­er the lives of these peo­ple, behind every faux-can­did there lies Adder­all, a sleep­less night in Ams­ter­dam and a bit­ter­ly dis­con­tent­ed friend who will one day pen a sprawl­ing essay about how shit you are, for the entire inter­net to pore over. Big mood. 

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