A Tribute to Dad

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In an article posted by New York Magazine titled The Microfame Game, Rex Sorgatz outlines 8 steps to becoming “micro-famous”:

  1. Self Publish
  2. Stylize
  3. Over share
  4. Respond
  5. Ally
  6. Diversify
  7. Create a controversy
  8. Persist

We can think of Sorgatz’s micro-fame as a variation of what it means to be a “micro-celebrity”, which according to Alice Marwick and Danah Boyd is defined as “a mindset and set of practices in which audience is viewed as a fan base; popularity is maintained through ongoing fan management; and self presentation is carefully constructed to be consumed by others” (To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter, 140)

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My father Reinaldo Iragorri, a CEO of an aviation re-insurance company by day, can be considered a fashion “micro-celebrity” by night, through his online presence, which was initiated by the creation of a fashion blog, Mi Closet by Reinaldo Iragorri.

Seeing his online performance and activity through the eight steps mentioned above gives insight into my father’s transformation from an offline fashion lover to an online fashion “micro-celebrity”.

Self Publish

It all started with the creation of a blog. Finding that his friends appreciated his passion for fashion, my father decided to begin sharing his personal fashion stories online. Simply creating the blog as a form of entertainment for his friends and family, my father never expected to gain so much popularity as he in fact did.

“Reach” a term coined by Nancy Baym to describe the size of an audience, was what turned my father into a modern day “micro-celebrity”. Although he no longer posts on his blog, my fathers online presence has become anything but small, taking on other platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. his use of media-multiplexity and context collapse (mentioned by Carloine Haythornthwaite in her article Social Networks and Internet Connectivity Effects) , have allowed his “micro-celebrity” status to persist.

However, it is my fathers Instagram, which has in fact kept his status of a micro-celebrity alive. Having over 12,000 followers my dad has created his Instagram into a variation of a fashion diary, filled with posts of his daily outfits, accented by statuses of what he is doing, who he is with and what he is wearing while there.

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But it is not simply his constant posting that has kept his micro celebrity status alive.

Stylize

Even before having a blog, Instagram or being on any other social media platform, my father would always make sure he was dressed to the “t”. Knowing my father in the offline world allows me to compare his offline behavior to that online. My father has always taken pride in his appearance offline, and thus is also known for taking pride for his appearance online. This value of authenticity, which Anthony Giddens argues allows a person to keep a stable narrative, also goes hand in hand with the argument made by Erving Goffman, in his work The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life that claims that our performance on and offline should have a steady pattern of conduct through which we behave constantly.

Every morning my father walks into his perfectly organized closet and stands there for minutes on end seeing what he is going to wear that day. It is a process, one that involves the proper pairing of suit, socks, tie, pocket square, cufflinks, watch and shirt in order to create the best image possible. Once chosen and dressed, my father proceeds to snap selfies of himself, however unlike the usual “casual” selfie, his selfies always constitute the same pose and lighting to capture his outfit for his daily post. His ability to stylize his posts into a series of photos, which make a complete outfit, have allowed him to create a repertoire of images that many now have access to flip through in order to get fashion inspiration.

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Over Share

After choosing the right images, placing them in there designated section and making sure the lighting is perfect, my father sits at the corner of his bed and writes the caption that will be attached to his daily outfit post.

Arguably one of the most important parts of his daily posts, because it is through language, which Marwick and Boyd claim to be highly efficient, that my father will be able to reach his intended audience. Creating his post according to what he believes his imagined audience, a concept introduced by Marwick & boyd in I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience. Thinking of his audience my father includes specific hash tags (which may sometimes be excessive), sayings, and comments which he believes will get his audience interested in what he has to say.

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Respond

Once the caption sounds good and makes sense, my dad posts his image for his followers to view. But his job as a micro-celebrity does not end there. According to Marwick and Boyd in To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practices on Twitter mutual recognition is required for a celebrity to be successful online. This recognition can be seen through my father’s interactions with his follower’s posts on his Instagram. Constantly on his phone making sure to be answering his followers questions to the best of his ability in order to establish a bi-directional tie, described by Nicole Ellison and Danah Boyd as a tie were there is mutual acknowledgment between the users. The tie thus increases his social capital, which he is able to use in order to bridge weak and strong ties as is mentioned by Haythornthwaitein her article Social Networks and Internet Connectivity Effects

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Ally

It is obvious by the number of followers and popularity that my dad has gained on Instagram that he has become a micro-celebrity.

But don’t just take my word for it (since your may think I am biased as his daughter and arguably #1 fan).

Take the word of GQ Latin America who named him one of the top best-dressed Latin American Men in 2012, or take the word of Mr. Porter who chose one of his Instagram photos for a contest of “most stylish” men. Or even (if you can speak Spanish that is) take the word of Zoom Magazine, which featured an article about my father’s success in becoming famous through his fashion blog.

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These strong ties, which Haythornthwaite has argued are beneficial for allocation of resources, have shown my fathers ability to maintain social capital through his constant grooming of his online presence.

By being featured on GQ, Mr. Porter and Zoom, my father has the ability to connect with people, which he may have had no connection to prior, hash tagging the companies names and handles, thus expanding his reach to a larger community of followers through his alliance with bigger and better known corporations.

Diversify / Create a Controversy 

My fathers ability to present himself not only as a fashionista but a businessman has also come to benefit his popularity in the online, as well as offline world. Taking his “micro-celebrity” status to another level, my father has now co-created a fashion line with my mother, partnering with Animas Code, a Spanish footwear manufacturer, that found my father via Instagram. Actively promoting his newly established fashion line Karma Positivo on his Instagram has allowed my dad to fuse his fashion and business savvy into one arena.

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Unlike other fashionsitas, which post images of themselves wearing other brands, my father makes it a point to post images wearing his own brand. He now not only has the ability to brand himself but can also brand his fashion line for his followers to consume and enjoy.

Although many find this idea of self-branding and constant sharing ridiculous, it has clearly proven to be a successful tactic for my father and his status a “micro-celebrity”. His shameless self promotion, over use of hash tags and sometimes comedic posts have allowed him to separate himself from the bunch of aspiring online fashion lovers, while still keeping a base of followers who enjoy his posts daily.

Persist

Given his need to keep his narrative on instagram in check, you could say my dad has a personal attachment to his phone. He is always online constantly making sure his Instagram is up to date, reviewing his pictures and posts in order to make sure that they are as good or better than the ones before them.

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One day I decided to ask my father why he was always on his phone, and what was his obsession with Instagramming, he responded “because of my fans”.

An answer, which at first seemed silly, has now come to make a lot of sense and hold a great amount of truth.

My fathers daily routine of outfit choosing, selfie snapping, word phrasing and hast tag-busing, are not just for himself, but also for his followers. As Clive Thompson says in his article Clive Thompson on the Age of Micro-celebrity: “we’re learning how to live in front of a crowd…learning to manage our identity and “message” almost like a self contained public relations department”.

As is clear through my father’s use of Instagram our actions and behavior determine our image.

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