Being an Instagram aficionado is what’s on the mind of almost everyone our age. Every party and event we go to is a dud, if we didn’t get a good picture to capture the moment and share with all of our friends. It has become an obsessive online reflection of ourselves, one which we routinely tweak and perfect to garner likes from those we know, or don’t.
But for some, Instagram has become somewhat of a career. Cameron McElroy, just a regular boy from Cambridge found himself traversing the world of fitness modeling a few years ago and his life quite literally hasn’t been the same.
“I think it was last year I got flown out to Puerto Rico to do a swimwear photoshoot. From there, Instagram kept getting bigger,” said McElroy.
McElroy began his Instagram with intentions to become a fitness model but soon found himself surrounded by the harsh realities of the industry. The perks and opportunities that we, as followers, see online have dark sides yet still appear to be spitting images of ‘perfect’ lives.
“I went to the Vegas expo and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. Everyone was asking ‘how many followers do you have?’ and I just thought it doesn’t matter … I realized they’ve got a shoelace personality. That’s all they have: their fitness. They’re very one-sided.”
Being inside a room full of inflated egos driven by likes and followers, it’s easy to see how quickly the glass box of internet fame can be destroyed for someone.
The novelty is shed and all that’s left is the shallow need for validation.
Now focusing on a life of ‘adventuring’ subsidized by posing for less body-conscious photoshoots on tropical beaches, McElroy hopes to continue to appeal to the online community after leaving the strict world of fitness.
Known online as @tarzancam, McElroy’s intentions of being the human-incarnate of the beloved Disney character were a bit of a coincidence, but he’s been un-phased by the daily objectifying comments his photos receive.
“I was in the Dominican and all these little kids started calling me Tarzan on the beach. I came back after Vegas and I just decided to change my name … Someone posted a picture of me beside [the cartoon] Tarzan and a lot of pages picked it up,” he said.
Now his claim to fame, McElroy has been using this as a way to expand his travel diary. Apart from his daily posts half-nude or donning sponsored gear to fund his lifestyle, McElroy was featured as the male-lead in a music video for “Easy Go” for Kitchener-Waterloo native Delaney.
Whether you heard this song voluntarily or due to Can-Con radio requirements, you can’t deny how catchy and visually stimulating the video is.
“It was my first time doing a video shoot. I’m pretty comfortable kissing girls so it was no issue,” said McElroy.
There are serious implications for people who follow accounts such as @tarzancam and the narrative of a perfect life that we, as viewers, can morph around them.
“People get way too caught up in it. It’s so easy to get caught up. They compare themselves to other people and it fucks up their confidence a lot. So I just want to show people that you can do whatever you want.”
Apart from his online presence, McElroy has gotten offers to appear on reality TV and streaming shows that have yet to come to fruition.
The only thing left to be decided is if this jungle boy can stay in one place for so long.
However, one phrase left some questions unanswered.
“It’s cool that people follow me. And they’ll keep following me, if I keep doing cool stuff.”
Even whilst living a supposed care-free lifestyle after seeing the inner workings of the fitness industry and Instagram fame, it may be difficult to fully distance himself from the attention. Regardless, he has plans to one day go soul searching, leaving behind the one thing connecting him to his 125k Instagram followers: his iPhone.
“I’m just trying to find myself. I’m not trying to show anybody who I am; I don’t know who I am.”