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One of the Love Island staples fans always look forward to is the constant influx of new bombshells. Each week a new boy or girl is introduced into the villa to create drama by putting the current couples to the test.
With each new boy, savvy Love Island fans transform into social media detectives by flocking to Instagram to dig for information about male Islanders, most notably the Instagram models and influencers they follow to gauge their “real” type.
This “follower fishing” trend has been led by viewers, but according to dating experts, the idea of looking for apparent proof of a guy’s type without having to ask the age-old question “what’s your type?” is a reflection of follower fishing happening in every day dating.
In Love Island, it happened when the first teaser for Teddy Soares’ Love Island debut aired. Fans of the show were hoping that he would save Kaz Kamwi or Rachel Finni. In previous days, Toby dumped Kaz for Chloe Burrows and Rachel was left single after Brad McClelland set his sights on Lucinda Strafford.
But fans were left disappointed after mining through Teddy’s following list on Instagram and seeing dozens of blonde women, ultimately shattering their hopes and dreams for the non-blonde and black women in the villa. One fan posted screenshots on Twitter of his following list, adding: “Everyone was hopeful Teddy would pick our girl Kaz or even Rachel but the answer is in his Instagram follows.”
With each new bombshell, a screenshot of their following list ended up on our timelines. For the guys who expressed an interest in Kaz prior to coming into the villa, this “fishing” became the next step after learning their names.
Danny Bibby was the next male bombshell. Though he would later be exposed for using a racial slur on his Instagram account, he was also “exposed” for allegedly following mostly blonde women after choosing to take Kaz out on a date. One fan shared: “Nah Danny is cute and all but look at who he’s following on IG he deffo came in there with a plan his type of deffo blondes by the look of it… come on #LoveIsland we need someone good for our girl Kaz.”
People also searched through Tyler Cruickshank’s following list and once again, screenshots circulated across Twitter as a way to prove he may not have a genuine interest in Kaz. The same happened with Matthew MacNabb’s account. “A person's Instagram following says so much about them. Tyler’s wasn’t doing it for me and neither is Matthews,” one fan tweeted.
There were even calls for producers to look at each male bombshell’s follow list as part of their auditioning process.
Dating expert Hayley Quinn from the app Match is a fan of Love Island and has seen follower fishing happen in every day, normal dating recently. “This new dating trend reflects how we date in real life,” she explains. “With more and more dating apps becoming connected to social media, it's common to follow someone - or stalk their social profile- before you've actually gone on a date with them.”
Using Tyler’s entry to the villa and pursuit of Kaz as an example, Quinn says women used this method of fishing for information to see if she was actually his type, the same way many women have in their own dating lives. “You check up on who a guy follows on Instagram to gauge if you're actually his type. Cue an army of women borderline outraged to find that Tyler may well have gone after Kaz, because she's a fan favourite on the show, as she does not bear any resemblance to the kind of women he [may] be crushing on, on Instagram.”
Fiona Wishart, who co-hosts the popular dating and sex podcast Love Bites admits she has done it. “I do it all the time, [to] almost every guy I’m speaking too,” she tells Tyla. “It’s just second nature and it doesn’t make you a crazy stalker, it just makes you a human with curiosity and insecurities.”
Furthermore, the 30-year-old from London believes women investigate more than men, reflected by the types of Love Island fans doing the investigating, which Fiona compares to Line of Duty’s high octane espionage. “I don’t believe men have as much drive to search into someone’s follows as I think this is something that circulates in girl group chats and sparks the idea.
“As women we like to compare ourselves to other women, see if the man we are crushing on is either following girls that have the same look so we validate that we are his ‘type’ or see how many women he’s really following to convince ourselves of the type of person he is. And this is a running theme in Love Island.”
Fiona, who is a huge Love Island fan, is happy to see so many fans online invested in the show, but she is keen to remind everyone that Instagram follows mostly reflect “surface level attraction” which can change in real life. This is one of the reasons why she thinks producers shouldn’t bother looking at Instagram follows during casting.
“The amount of dates I’ve been on with men who tell me their usual ‘type’ is blonde and then they quickly say ‘well obviously you’re dark haired so it’s not doesn’t really mean anything’."
It’s also important to not get consumed by the women a man follows on Instagram, both in real life and when it comes to Love Island contestants. “It’s OK for a man to find other women attractive, that does not mean that man does not want you. If you are feeling particularly low in self-esteem, do try and avoid it.
“Be careful with making snap judgements about people. We don’t know these people and we can get far too invested.
"Remember they are very young individuals, they are still learning about themselves, so for instance if Jake said he loves blondes but followed seven brunette models [before entering the villa], it doesn’t mean he has no feelings for his blonde girlfriend Liberty.”
Similarly, when it comes to our own dating lives, Quinn said we should avoid making assumptions and to get to know people instead. “This can be a slippery slope, as it's easy to jump to conclusions based on a snapshot of someone's life online,” she explained.
“Instead, I'd recommend keeping it old school and taking your time getting to know people. You may want to cut to the chase and save yourself any potential heartache; but be warned that you may get the wrong end of the stick and lose out on starting something real with a potential match.”
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