Imagine a beautiful girl with thousands of followers on Instagram who leads a glamorous life with incredible photos of traveling the world while she indulges in the riches of life, food and drinks. I bet we could all name at least three people like this we are following on Instagram right now. In fact, some of our closest friends probably have Instagram accounts like that, only maybe they are missing the thousands of followers and only have a few hundred. The point is, in these types of photos we often see people drinking. Drinking is glamorized after all, and this shouldn’t be a surprise to us. Some people don’t even notice how much alcohol is present on social media day in and day out. And that’s exactly what happened with Louise Delage.
Delage is an insta-celeb that hit the scene in August of 2016. Brand new, people didn’t really wonder who she was. They just started following her beautiful life in Paris and started “liking” all her photos. Her world looked fun, carefree and full of delicious food. But there was one thing a lot of people didn’t notice until they were told to notice. In almost every single photo and video posted by Delage, she has alcohol. It’s either in her hand or sitting nearby. The truth was revealed in this video posted on Instagram and YouTube just a few weeks ago. The video asks the question, “were her followers really aware of what they were liking?” As the video proceeds there are screenshots of her photos and the amount of likes each has. The pictures come in faster succession until they are all zoomed in on the common denominator: alcohol. It’s mind boggling the amount of alcohol that plagues her Instagram account. The words at the end give it all away, “It’s easy to miss the addiction of someone close.” That’s when you realize we’ve all been fooled!
Louise Delage was a made up Instagram account that was part of a campaign from a production company called Francine Framboise for an organization called Addict Aide. The organization created this campaign in order to raise awareness of alcoholism in young people in France. Addict Aide says one out of every five deaths of young people per year is from addiction. They provide resources for people who are concerned with their own alcohol consumption, or that of a loved one.
It’s hard to know when a loved one is addicted. The idea for this campaign titled “Like My Addiction” was inspired by that difficulty. The stigma that addiction only affects old homeless men who live under bridges is slowly fading away. Addict Aide wanted to show how a person who could be described as ordinary can have substance abuse issues. Then, harnessing the power of social media, they used tested Instagram content and user habits that work, like two to three posts per day at high-traffic times, hashtags and a bot to follow others who would hopefully follow her back. The creators were hoping to reach an even wider audience, but Delage only ended up with about 16,700 followers. However, after they revealed the video and the hoax was up, Addict Aide saw five times more traffic than normal to their site and the story generated over 140 articles. It was even a trending topic on Twitter in France.
Once I realized Louise wasn’t just some happy world traveler, she was also a person with serious alcohol problem, I could totally relate. I’m pretty sure my Instagram looked almost identical to hers before I quit drinking. Except I wasn’t on a yacht in France, I was on a yacht in Cancun. But my life looked glamorous, I was in the hottest nightclubs in one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. There were short dresses, fire shots, thong bikinis, exotic beaches, foreign accents and people. And I got a lot of likes. I got friend requests from strangers. People wanted to know who I was—yet I felt alone. I believe we can ignore the content of certain photos because we are distracted by their superficial beauty, especially on social media. That’s the thing with social media, everyone puts their best photos and videos out there to construct the life they want others to see. What you don’t see with Louise and you didn’t see with me, were the excruciating hangovers that followed all the liquor and wine, or the times my friends found me puking in the street, or the times my fiancé had to carry my lifeless body out of a nightclub. Those pictures didn’t make it onto my account.
Were those likes enablers? For me they were. I felt important. I felt cool and different, while inside I was slowly dying. I didn’t want to let my followers down. Who wants to admit that their really cool life in another country was actually just drinking and using drugs 90 percent of the time? No one. To know someone, you have to look at the whole picture, not just the blinding scenery or the flashy outfit. To know if someone has a problem with alcohol you have to look deeper into their soul. It’s about looking before you hit like.
This campaign was a powerful example of how addiction does not discriminate. Even the people you think are having the best times of their lives could be miserable in their own skin. I am just one example of a former Louise Delage. People were just as surprised when I came out as sober. You never know when someone is hiding a darker reality than they portray online. Social media could even make you a factor in enabling someone to drink.