RiverTribe’s wellbeing correspondent Vocal Tone gets serious about mental health’s latest champion the Insta Egg.
I have resisted the eggceptional, avoided the eggciting and body swerved the eggstatic words in the headline and promise to keep them out of the rest of this article.
But what has happened on Instagram this year inspires many egg-based superlatives.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you will be aware of the phenomenon that is the egg that broke the internet as it attempted to get the world record of likes for a photo posted on Instagram.
As RiverTribe’s mental wellbeing correspondent, I might write about the egg from a purely outside perspective. The fact my niece Alissa and friend Chris were the co-creators of the now record-breaking post, gives me a personal perspective that I still find confounding as I write.
Now Alissa is a local girl, born and bred in Hampton and a former pupil of Gumley House School in Isleworth, so West London can count her as another local hero, up there with the Sir Mo Farah’s of this world.
Chris and Alissa were in their South East London flat when they decided to do something to counter the current world record holding Instagram photo posted by Kylie Jenner.
It was a picture of Kylie’s new born baby Stormi that prompted them to post the shot of the egg with the caption ‘Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this’.
They hash-tagged the post with #LikeTheEgg #EggSoldiers and #EggGang.
I was actually in France when the Egg started gaining major traction on the social networking site. Alissa sent me a message, which was very cryptically worded, asking me if I had heard of the egg and asking for a chat about what to do next.
I honestly thought her account had been hacked and this was a scam message, so I replied with caution, hoping I wasn’t sounding like a condescending old fogey who thought she was taking hallucinatory drugs.
I needn’t have worried. She was highly focussed and her and Chris’s brains were anything but scrambled (go on, give me that one).
They themselves were staggered at the response and were working tirelessly to reply to messages and the obvious attention it was receiving from the world’s media channels.
They decided to remain anonymous for the time being, which only stoked interest in who these Banksies of social media were.
They called the egg Eugene and its mother, Henrietta, who did all the interviews, was being quoted on This Morning on a daily basis. The hysteria even spread across the pond, with Ellen featuring it on her show and Kylie herself smashing an egg on the sidewalk with the message ‘take that little egg’ in faux outrage.
The egg was now in the 50 million likes bracket, sending the internet into meltdown.
So what is the appeal of the egg?
This is purely my hypothesis, but the sheer natural simplicity of it breaks through any barriers of cynicism.
We all come from an egg ultimately, and unless you happen to be yolk intolerant, there are no religious, dietary or cultural reasons to take offense to one (I hope).
As the post was designed to shine a light on the power yielded by online influencers on lifestyle choices and body image issues perhaps the iconic, never-changing shape and mottled shell colour played a part in its attraction.
The tension started to mount as bit by bit, Eugene began to crack up. What was going to emerge? Surely a message for mankind, or with over 10 million followers, probably a message from a big brand selling their wares. Egg McMuffin anyone?
During a break following the Superbowl, which attracts an audience of over 100 million, Eugene finally began to crumble. In an animated film shown on Hulu, Eugene spoke in a series of titles about the pressures of social media getting to him to the sound of a kettle coming to the boil.
He broke into two halves revealing nothing inside, but quickly reassembled to urge others suffering from mental health issues to talk to someone and contact Mental Health America via their website address.
In the same video posted in different markets, support-line numbers and positive messages are pointed out by Eugene.
As a proud Uncle writing regularly on mental health issues, I am full of admiration that Chris and Alissa went in this direction and not just taken the big brand dollar. Eugene is a good egg and now a very unlikely champion for mental health sufferers around the world with a remit going into the future to urge those affected to talk to someone.
The revelation of Eugene and his quest in life has allowed Chris and Alissa to come out and reveal their own identities, which they announced in an exclusive to The New York Times. Hopefully their lives can return to some semblance of normality now as they plan Eugene’s next steps.
RiverTribe knew their identities well before the New York Times, but we are renowned for our discretion and ability to keep a secret.
Now it’s out there, we will be supporting Eugene in his on-going mission to de-stigmatise mental health issues, be it in the work place, online or out there in the real world as sure as eggs is eggs.
Sorry, couldn’t resist.
For more info, go to www.talkingegg.info and Eugene’s side platform @the_talking_egg which has 290k followers.