For influencers, dodging the paparazzi is a relatively new sport. While nobody was hunting down, say, YouTuber Tyler Oakley or even Shane Dawson with cameras in 2010, a decade later TikTokkers are hanging out with Kardashians and routinely getting stopped on the street to answer questions about the latest internet drama. However, the frequently-shared videos are not a testament to how internet fame has finally been accepted as a legitimate celebrity status, but rather how the next generation is actively rejecting it. 

On Sunday, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain uploaded a video for her over nine million subscribers titled “WHAT MY LIFE IS REALLY LIKE…” In it, she makes breakfast, feeds her cats, and heads to the grocery story. While out and about, she’s unexpectedly stopped by the paparazzi.

The viral encounter took place earlier this month and gained traction on the internet because of Chamberlain’s visible discomfort during the interaction. As the paparazzi follows her to two different places, she’s asked about her relationship status as well as her former friendships with James Charles and Ethan and Grayson Dolan. She doesn’t give much away, ignoring the questions while retreating to her car, where her latest video shows her addressing what just happened.

“Okay and my worst fear came true,” she says after the first conversation. “How did he find me? I was so out of my element. I was shaking … that made me so uncomfortable.”

Ten minutes later, she returns with another update.

“I went to go get gas and guess who followed me there,” she says, referring to the same paparazzo from before. “What the fuck!”

Watching influencer paparazzi videos is a particular breed of uncomfortable. The whole point of influencers having a platform is to keep their audiences up-to-date on their lives. Therefore, the only questions the paparazzi have to ask are things the creators purposefully have chosen not to disclose on their own platforms. More often than not, this renders every interaction between them invasive and awkward. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Another creator, Addison Rae, was asked over the weekend about her on-again, off-again boyfriend Bryce Hall’s wild birthday party.

“I don’t really feel comfortable talking about that,” she says to the camera, head tilted while ringing her hands, still attempting to keep up the bubbly, friendly persona that earned her over 55 million TikTok followers.

Traditional celebrities have often clashed with paparazzi, but also relied on them to stay in the headlines, tease their personal lives, and even show off their outfits. The current generation of stars was raised on social media and doesn’t need anyone else to contribute to their narratives—or undermine their carefully but subtly curated online personas. Instead, the job of drama accounts like TikTokRoom is to aggregate influencer news that is already public, rather than instigate it themselves.

“It's not a bad thing that you're posted on TikTokRoom,” co-creator Elasia told me in a previous interview. “Basically if you put something out there it's going to get posted.” 

That’s something YouTube drama channels also stressed in the middle of the Shane Dawson accusations.

“Isn’t the sole purpose of drama/commentary/opinion-based channels to talk about things that are now public knowledge?” creator Adam McIntyre asks in a recent video. “There is so much out there already that you don’t have to make shit up.”

Therefore it’s almost futile for the paparazzi to attempt to get influencers to play by their outdated rules. Not only do influencers not have to answer your questions, they can get more views than the paparazzi video itself talking about how much they hated it. And just like that, the story is back in their quick-typing, emoji-fluent hands.