Though millions of Americans are feeling the various effects of the recession, the Rich Kids of Instagram don’t seem to know the meaning of the word. In case you haven’t been introduced to RKOI yet, it’s a Tumblr page that compiles photos from different Instagram accounts of the flashy offspring of the extremely affluent. The images are framed in gilded gold and accompanied by hash tags such as #rkoi, #weath, #nojob #noproblem, #mansion, #bentley and captions like “$4000 bottle of champagne bitch" and “Our everyday is better than your best day.”
The Tumblr page hit the web on July 13, 2012 and as expected, received mixed reactions from critics, journalists and the ‘rich kids’ in the photos themselves. One article from The Atlantic Wire says …”these wealthy kid pix are particularly funny (and also sad) because they showcase a gross variant of entitlement. Preteens posing with helicopters they did nothing to earn and posting the pictures online for others to ogle provides an easy in for commentary on the state of the American dream. (Dead.)”
Meanwhile the girl they speak of, 19-year-old Annabel Schwartz, doesn’t seem to appreciate the attention, telling GoodMorningAmerica.com, “My friends and I don’t want to be associated with this. This is very embarrassing...We took a vacation to have a nice time to enjoy ourselves. Not to make us splash on an Internet page. These pictures are meant for our friends and a joke and for us to keep a memory and not for the world to watch.”
Now, if you put your photos on the Internet for anyone to see, is it so surprising that people are looking and judging? Instagram does have a privacy setting after all. Social media has changed the way we communicate, share information and view each other with just the click of a mouse. Mix that convenience with America’s glorification of and fascination with the rich and famous (i.e. The Kardashians, Hiltons and Real Housewives) and sites like RKOI become a huge Internet sensation.
Maybe this is not a matter of the affluent flaunting their wealth—that’s not a new concept. Perhaps this is more about the accessibility the public has to the content. Then again, what is really wrong with this type of behavior? Is it simply the obnoxious and in-your-face approach that people find abhorrent, especially given the country's current state? No one is arguing the lack of sensitivity these RKOI have toward their fellow Americans, but does that make their behavior out-of-line or much different from the typical self-centered teen? If the site was “Upper-Middle Class Kids of Instagram” would people even take notice?
Take a minute to visit your own Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. What are all of your friends announcing? Probably all of the best stuff happening in their lives. Any social media site, be it Facebook, Twitter or otherwise, will display members showing off something; their purse might not be Fendi and their vacation may not be to the South of France, but the items are all still relative to each person's lifestyle, just as in the case of the wealthy. When is the last time you heard about a public backlash from Joe Schmo posting pictures from his spring break in Fort Lauderdale?
And with negative feedback being blasted around the Twitterverse in tweets like "Dear Rich Kids of Instagram: You might be wealthy, but you're far from being high class. Glad I was taught the difference" and "Rich Kids of Instagram: The moronic excessiveness of teenage socialites," I start to wonder if is this really about the ignorance of these individuals in the 1%, or jealousy among the other 99%? What do you think?