“I had 15,000 followers. Now, I have zero. And I’m okay with it.” Read to find out why influencer-slash-celeb Hubab Hood quit Instagram. Or did he?
“Hey guys, it’s me again, Hubab Hood: your number one influencer in Singapore.”
Once upon a time, this was Hubab Hood’s tongue-in-cheek greeting. These days we call him Hubab Who?: our own little in joke about his sudden retirement from Instagram.
Here’s a brief background on this former ‘star’. Hubab Hood rose to minimal – his words, not ours – fame when he played a starring role on MunahHirziOfficial. And while he left the comedy channel early on, he’s stayed in the spotlight. Just before he deactivated his Instagram account, his following was a solid 15,000: and they were real..
His ‘retirement’ from Instagram came as a shock to us all. The photo-sharing app seemed synonymous with his identity. Rarely did a day go by without him posting a selfie, photos and Instagram stories documenting his proudly ‘bougie’ lifestyle of bubbles, luxe holidays and exclusive parties, or live videos. Curious, we pulled him into a no-holds-barred chat to find out why he made such a dramatic life change….
Could you introduce yourself for those who somehow don’t know you yet?
Hi I’m Hubab. I’m a fallen quote influencer unquote.
How did you get so ‘famous’?
I started out doing videos with my friends on Youtube. They were parodies, and random videos. People began watching them and they gave us challenges to do. Once we started doing them, our viewership steadily grew, and eventually blew up. But from the get go, I knew I wanted to get out of there. I quickly realised that I don’t like being put in front of people…
Hang on, could you repeat that? You don’t want to be put in front of people? (For the uninitiated, Hubab is the equivalent of the class clown at work despite being a manager.)
Yes, I know it shocks you that I shun the spotlight. It’s just that I’ve always liked making people laugh. I think I somehow fell into “fame”.
When I joined Instagram, my account blew up instantly. Everything was fun and I was young so naturally I kept going at it. My former position as a producer at ENews! Asia also significantly grew my following as I was constantly posting about celebrities.
And then what changed?
I’m 30 and married now. I look back at my time on Instagram and realise that I was posting things I didn’t care about just to please others.
I would challenge myself to see if a recent post could up the likes on a previous one. I would check impressions and see how far I could go. I was just playing along to the ‘being an influencer’ thing, but I’m not one. And I’ve never actually been one. I didn’t influence anything. People only watched my videos or posts because they were funny.
When did you decide you had enough?
There were two moments. The first time, I was in an Uber and looking through my feed. Without realising it, I was scrolling non stop, and when I thought about it, I couldn’t remember what I’d been looking at for the past five minutes.
The second time, I was on the train. I looked around me and most people were on their phones, double tapping away on photos that obviously don’t matter.
I snapped. I didn’t know why I was doing this. If I can’t remember what I’d be looking at for five minutes, what’s the point? There was no passion, or emotion attached to it. You’re just scrolling endlessly, and mindlessly, with zero purpose. What’s the point of giving likes to people for stuff you don’t even remember? You’re just feeding other people’s desire to be popular.
I feel like I’ve been scarred by it.
What scarred you?
Nothing happened. But I did have haters.
Tell me about them.
I had one who would create multiple accounts just to spam all my pictures – even the personal ones with family, friends and colleagues. He’d comment ‘fat slut’ or something about me being ugly. I found it hilarious, and entertaining. I honestly wasn’t hurt by it. But it’s not a nice feeling to load Instagram and see twenty insults on pictures you’ve taken with your family.
And then there’s an obsession in pretending you’ve got the perfect life…
Exactly. People take ages to find the right filter and go the extra mile to manipulate their facial features or body. I’ve done it before…
…we’ve all done it before.
We’ve all done it before. I have no shame. A picture is just a picture. People want validation and they want to be recognised.
But more than that, scrolling endlessly through your feed is a nasty habit. It may have started out as a way for people to look at nice pictures. But now, it’s just something people do when they’re bored or restless. Back in the 90s, people would spin pens around their fingers when they were bored. Instagram is the new pen spinning. You’re bored, you have nothing to do. So you swipe and scroll.
Is there anything you miss about it?
Don’t you miss being clued in on in your friends’ lives?
Nope. Being free of social media actually helps me connect with people more now. I have genuine curiosity about people’s lives. I ask more questions and engage more. Without the distraction of Instagram, I read more, I touch more. I feel more present.
How do you feel after switching off from social media?
Relieved. Free. Like I don’t owe anyone anything. I don’t owe you a like. I don’t owe you a view.
Is this the first time you’ve deactivated your social media?
Nope, the first one I took down was Twitter. I had 10k followers but I took it down because it became too much to handle. I deleted it without a second thought.
Have you ever regretted leaving Instagram or Twitter?
Nope. I’ve always found social media annoying. I was following people I don’t give a s**t about (pardon my language).
How do we be more mindful when using social media?
Set rules. Allocate time to use it. Don’t use it at lunch, dinner or during working hours. Use it as part of your down time after dinner. Scroll through it while you’re chilling on the couch and not in your bedroom – that’s a place of relaxation. Keep it to 10 minutes.
Also, be mindful of who you follow. Plenty of young influencers these days advertise content with just their looks, with little thought to captions or actual content creation. Follow people who actually make you feel good, and have something important or positive to say.