July 4 2017
By Dave Avran
Social media has been abuzz with news of Naza Group’s Faliq Nasimuddin’s marriage proposal to Berjaya Corp Founder’s daughter Chryseis Tan. She said yes, of course, and promptly announced it on her Instagram account to her 144,000 followers.
Chryseis is one of the Rich Kids of Instagram, Tumblr and other social media channels showcasing the unapologetically self-indulgent lifestyles of the world’s wealthiest millennials.
You might love her as she emerges from a chopper in a fairy costume for a party in Las Vegas, or readies for take-off in a private jet for lunch in Monaco. Or you might hate her. It doesn’t matter. The point is, #youcantdothis, which is her favourite hashtag.
Granted, some of these rich and Instafamous posing for the camera may not be as well-off as they portray. They’re draped on Ferraris, lounging on yachts, swimming in champagne and wantonly splurging wads of cash on fashion, food and fun in the world’s most exclusive shopping destinations.
Chryseis however is the real deal. She’s the 29 year old jet-setting daughter of Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, with Instagram followers ready to coo “wow!” “gorgeous” “love this” and “so pretty!!” on her every post.
Apart from her infamous #youcantdothis, her other tagline is “I want to travel the world”. No problem there: she’s been pictured in Hong Kong, the French ski resort of Courchevel, in Japan. Zurich, Shanghai, Paris, Koh Samui and San Francisco, among others.
But Chryseis’ 144,000 followers pales beside others of her ilk. Take Dan Bilzerian, hardly a kid at 35, a self-proclaimed “sexual philanthropist” dubbed the “King of Instagram” by his 22.5 million followers.
The barrel-chested professional poker player is a favourite among US college boys for his outrageous ass-kicking, gun-toting persona and risque posts with skimpily-dressed-if-at-all dressed women. His campaign for the 2016 presidential race consisted of a series of parties at exclusive night clubs.
Then there’s Dorothy Wang, daughter of a Chinese shopping mall billionaire with 991,700 followers and her own line of jewellery.
The original Rich Kids of Instagram (RKOI) account, with 399,000 followers, has spawned multiple spin-offs: there are Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, of Tehran, of Denmark, Dubai, London, Iran, Germany, Turkey, you name it.
The media, of course, lap it all up. RKOI have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Gawker, the Telegraph in Britain, and many other places. What they do on holidays – lounge around in hotels and splurge in boutiques has become a bit of a seasonal meme in the northern hemisphere, a bit like the haze and durian season in Malaysia.
Clarisse Lafleur is Australia’s RKOI poster child as the Maserati-driving 18-year-old with the “Princess” number plate attends Bond University on the Gold Coast. Her grandfather was president of New Caledonia and she lives off an allowance from her “very generous father” who is in business and tops up her allowance as needed.
“Being wealthy doesn’t mean throwing money everywhere and wearing a bunch of designer clothes and too much jewellery. You don’t look rich; you look like a Christmas tree. You need to have the culture behind it otherwise people will laugh at you,” are her wise words.
My wise words are you don’t need a sociology degree to figure out that the millions who follow these RKOI are vicariously living out fantasies. Some responses to RKOI’s posts are raw with yearning, like “Change my life!” “Give me a million?” and “I would love you like nobody did before”
There’s typical criticism too: “You should be ashamed flaunting your wealth in such a way, when there are some people who have no food. Please think about the more important things”.
But it’s all about the display, like the dandies who paraded their wealth and style on the 19th- and early 20th-century boulevards. They want to be envied because that is a way of feeling reassured and smug with what they have got.
Most of these RKOI have absolutely no idea how most people live. They come from such incredible wealthy backgrounds that they are completely disconnected from what the majority of the world considers to be everyday life.
The commercial flavour of many RKOI posts display luxury brand names and “self-branding as “celebrity” and “luxury” become popularised as key aspirations for people, Today’s popular Internet culture encourages everyone to take on an almost celebrity-like way of broadcasting ourselves and engaging with other people.