It’s hit number one on the US App Store, simulating what it’s really like to be a social media star – but only for 15 minutes
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a celebrity on social media, flooded with notifications and DMs from adoring fans? Or maybe what’s it’s like to have a video go viral overnight? Well you don’t need to wonder any more, because an app titled Hype Simulator can give you a taste of the experience without any of the effort that goes into the real thing.
Within seconds of creating an account on the app, the new follower notifications begin pouring in, along with a genuinely overwhelming amount of messages. “I am your biggest fan,” proclaims one follower, while another DM reads: “If you weren’t famous, what would you be up to right now?” (Pretending to be famous, evidently.)
There are no actual, real-life people behind the follower count though. This becomes pretty clear when you reply to a message and get one of a few generic responses: “I cant even,” or, “I can’t believe you answered.” While your follower count continues to rise – you’ll be verified at 100,000 followers – you’ll also be cut off after 15 minutes, and prompted to restart by making a fresh account, where you can decide between the celebrity or “going viral” experience.
Appropriately, the title page for the app displays the famous Andy Warhol quote: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.”
While the hype may seem short-lived, the dopamine hit from a blue checkmark and a mass of positive feedback has obviously got people hooked. Hype Simulator has topped the App Store charts in the US, ahead of real social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok (which obviously inspired the almost-identical Hype Simulator interface). This follows significant buzz on Twitter and TikTok, where one video documenting what it’s like to use the app reached almost a million views in the last two days.
The app originally started to become popular back in August, before its Canadian developer, Ulkar Akhundzada, had to respond to rumours that it steals the IP addresses of its users. “The popularity of this app shouldn't be surprising,” Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at the New York-based creative agency Mekanism, tells Input. “We live in a world where the #1 most desirable job amongst teens is to become an influencer.”
In 2019, a survey by Morning Consult revealed that around 86 per cent of Americans aged 13 to 38 would be willing to try out influencing as a career. 61 per cent of those surveyed said they are already posting about brands they like without being paid to do so. Of course, popularity on Hype Simulator isn’t exactly going to improve your career prospects as an influencer; you may get thousands of viewers when you go live, but there’s no point marketing products to bots.
Some also worry that the app lends itself to misleading people into thinking you have more clout than you actually do. It even offers the ability to comment on your own posts with fake accounts, making it look like you’re getting attention from the likes of Charli D’Amelio. “Someone could easily use the hype simulator to deceive someone into thinking they’re hot shit,” adds Idil Galip, who’s studying memes and online culture at Edinburgh University.
Users have already shared stories of pranking their friends and family members into thinking they’ve received millions of likes on their posts.
THE HYPE SIMULATOR RLY MADE MY MUM THINK I GOT 1.4 MIL LIKES— goofy bird (@skxrry) December 5, 2020
Although it does give some insight into how potentially stressful social media could be if the DMs never stopped rolling in, roleplaying fame on Hype Simulator – without ever actually interacting with a real human being – also ends up feeling like a pretty dystopian pastime. While it may have temporarily topped the App Store charts, it seems safe to say that 2020 will remain the year of TikTok, a platform that now boasts over one billion users worldwide.
See the best of what TikTokers have been watching over the last 12 months here, and view more users posting about their experiences with virtual fame on Hype Simulator below.