Imagine waking up, going about your everyday routine, not a care in the world. Suddenly, your phone starts vibrating as though there was an internal earthquake in the device.
And there it is...
Your head, plastered across one of the most followed accounts in the country.
People I hadn't even spoken to in years were contacting me:
"Hey, have you seen this?"
Of course I've bloody seen it! My phone was almost over-heating.
Yep, you've probably guessed by now that last week I was called out on the Instagram account, Bloggers Unveiled.
It all began when I visited Zero One Salon to get my hair done for a sponsored piece. I won't lie, I was almost embarrassed going into the salon, my hair was in such a bad way. They transformed my hair and the pictures were so great, Bloggers Unveiled assumed it couldn't be real and that I must have had extensions in.
The picture shared by the account is my own hair. Not a single strand of it is an extension.
I've never had extensions in my life, not even in the Bebo days when people wore clip-ins to the teenage discos. Nothing against them, just not something I've ever tried.
Each week, I release pieces for my beauty and fashion series, Tried & Tested. The series was created to review fashion, beauty and lifestyle products. They are always completely honest.
The series was such a success that brands wanted to partner on it to showcase their products. We only work with a brand on Tried & Tested if we would really recommend their product, and we're strict on that. We also make sure that we are completely transparent with our followers and let everyone know that the piece is a sponsored partnership.
I wrote up the sponsored Zero One Salon piece and detailed the experience I had there. I included pictures of my hair, before and after. I was honest in everything I said.
But Bloggers Unveiled didn't think so. They posted a screenshot of my piece with a caption about how misleading it was that I didn't declare I was wearing extensions.
I guess this is just a testament to how good of a job the salon did.
This accusation was posted online on an account with 200k followers.
As a young journalist, I'm someone who works for a brand. I love my job and I love getting to try things and inform people about my experiences. I am not a blogger who makes a living from sponsored content directly. I don't stand to gain personally from this partnership, but it was me personally who was being accused of lying.
At first, I was pretty calm about the whole situation because I knew I was telling the truth. It was only after a few hours of my phone going crazy that I realised how serious it was.
Don't get me wrong, I put myself out there on social media every day to our Insta audience of 220k, so I'm well used to the odd comment here and there. This time however, it was being directed to my personal account so of course, I read every single message I received.
I posted on my Instagram stories giving my side and Bloggers Unveiled tagged me (which I appreciated because they let me have my say). Now it was up to the audience to decide what they believed.
What was it like?
To say my day was an emotional rollercoaster is an understatement.
I wasn't upset but I was a bit shocked at first and I did worry that this would affect my reputation as a young journalist.
My Instagram pretty much blew up that day.
I had 800 new followers and almost 30,000 people watching my Instagram story - It was insane.
What surprised me most was the amount of supportive and positive messages I was receiving from people I didn't even know - it was lovely.
But of course, there was a flip side.
I was getting abusive messages, people demanding I send them personal pictures of my hair and calling me a liar.
I've had to block countless people who haven't let it drop since.
What have you learned?
Social media is feckin' cray.
Ah no but seriously, it's so bizzare to think that someone can just make a false accusation, defame me to over 200k people and face no consequence.
I didn't even get an apology.
Right now, laws around social media are very much a grey area, and this has allowed toxic accounts, bullying and slander to thrive while victims are pretty much helpless.
An account like Bloggers Unveiled shows the sheer power of social media. The account, which I am still a follower of, was created to unveil influencers who are scamming their audience. Thanks to this and other accounts like it, we as an audience have become more media savvy and the ASAI have started working to improve this.
This real-life Gossip Girl account has encouraged bloggers to be honest with their followers and to always say if something has been sponsored.
In my case, I very clearly labelled the piece as sponsored and I was honest about the treatment I received.
It's one of the most talked about accounts in the country and it's a shame that some people believe everything that's posted on it.
I've learnt to take situations like this with a pinch of salt. Unless something is proven, the accusation may not be true.
I just kept saying to myself on the day:
"It's me today, it'll be someone else tomorrow."
And I was right. The account moved on to its next target the following day and I was left alone.
I do shudder to think how someone who is feeling in any way vulnerable already would cope with a false target like this.
It was a whirlwind of a day being called out on Bloggers Unveiled.
I still follow the account and I still admire whoever it is for outing people who have lied to their audience. It's important that influencers and bloggers are fair and honest online.
I do wish they had messaged me first so I could prove to them prior to all the drama, that my hair was in fact real.
You can only look back on situations like this and laugh at how crazy they were, there's no point taking it personally and being upset over it.
There's more important things in this world than my hair.
If you would like to hear the whole story and a more in-depth analysis of why we love to follow the page, you can listen to our weekly podcast Before Brunch:
For anyone who wants to know a little bit more about my hair... https://t.co/tvcmcwGFfd
— Boogalín (@BandEadd) July 5, 2018