A months-long Internet cold case was solved on Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 4), when the genius behind our Instagram-skewering obsession finally revealed herself.
"Hey guys, my name is Darby Cisneros and I am the creator of SocalityBarbie," she wrote in a note of gratitude to her 1.3 million followers, rapidly amassed after launching the account in June.
Socality Barbie, of course, was a bespectacled brunette made of plastic and living in the Pacific Northwest. Her weakness for perfectly captured beachscapes and coffee art made her quite literally "all of us" on the photo-sharing site -- in the worst possible way. Cisneros had apparently been scrolling her feed and found little to be inspired by. So Socality Barbie became a mirror of "how we choose to present ourselves online, the insane lengths many of us go to to create the perfect Instagram life."
In meticulously arranged tableaus that ranged from pumpkin patches to the Oregon woods, the motionless but hilariously expressive Barbie doll poked fun at how many of us strain to present an authentic, double-tap worthy life to our followers -- even if it takes 50 tries to do it. Socality Barbie's captions, sharply penned by Cisneros, frequently included as many as 25 hashtags -- from the ubiquitous filter-flossing #vsco to the absurd #letsgosomewhere.
"People were all taking the same pictures in the same places and using the same captions," the-still anonymous Cisneros told Wired back in September of her motivations. "I couldn’t tell any of their pictures apart so I thought, 'What better way to make my point than with a mass-produced doll?'"
Not much is known about Cisneros beyond that she's a wedding photographer from Portland, Oregon. But she bid farewell to the popular series on Wednesday, explaining that the conversations the parody account helped spark meant she'd arrived at her goal. (MTV News reached out to Darby and hadn't heard back at press time.) The discussion around authenticity on Instagram won't end with Socality Barbie, though. In fact, it seemed to reach fever pitch this week as Instagram model Essena O’Neill swore off social media and the ceaseless grasping for likes and validation.
The Australian teen scrubbed her timeline of upwards of 2,000 photos, leaving a tight collection of bikini shots and sultry poses, which she edited to reveal the true story behind how they came to be (from flat abs and #thighgap achieved through obsessive calorie restriction to lucrative checks for paid promotion and heavily staged sunsets).
As someone who lives happily in both the digital and "real" worlds, I don't advocate giving your social media the old #RIP. But it's always good to take a step back from your screens once in a while and measure your motivations. It might be time to reassess your values if running low on likes shakes your foundation.