Before the end of the world, I was just one of 800 million Instagramers posting pics of food, my dog, ubiquitous selfies, and landscapes with inspiring sentences pulled from a Google search of inspiring quotes. I had 124 followers, mostly family and friends and generic accounts offering to get me 5k followers, but after that first photo went viral, I went viral (#undeadpuns). I'll spare you the details but trust me it was horrible—I lived through it only to be eaten, then reanimated shortly thereafter. Half of my face is gone as proof (#zombieface), along with at least 23 gunshot wounds. Aim for the head, lol (#2A, #NoHeadShot, #youmissed)!
Turning into a zombie, however, was actually the beginning of my social media fame and, I dare say, a new career path.
After reanimating I quickly found my first victim, chased them relentlessly, and dragged them to the ground. During our struggle, my cell phone, which I'd been holding onto before, during and after I turned, fell out of my hand. Seeing it, an entirely human thought shot through the haze undead bloodlust (you can hashtag that: #undeadbloodlust!): Fuck me, I should Instagram this! Muscle memory took over and clumsy dead fingers deftly set the camera to a three-second delay, photo burst, as I took a bite out of my first screaming victim!
Reviewing the pictures, though, I knew I had some winners (#screamforthecamera #firstkill).
At first, only living people were liking and sharing my photos, mostly out shock and horror. They felt triggered and thought it was some sicko going for one last epic troll but then, out of nowhere, an epidemic of zombies started posting from their former accounts, too!
After that, there was no end to the outrage coming from the living (#zombielivesmatter). They called my account an abomination and started throwing bible verses at me. One follower screamed in all caps: “MAY THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPEL YOU TO DIE AND RETURN TO HELL, DEMON??!” To which I responded, quite good-naturedly, “LOL BUDDY! I'm already dead??.”
Others warned me that if they ever caught me, they'd blow my brains out, but I just posted an old photo collage of all my festering gunshot wounds, along with a big rotten smile on my intact head (#TBT #zombieface #zombietroll).
That post went viral, too—inspiring all types of conversations about online abuse between the living and the dead. Dead or alive, dialogue matters.
Honestly, rediscovering Instagram after dying and reanimating as the insatiable undead has really put me in touch with my humanity again. People see that my photos really grapple with a fundamental reality of life and death (#buildingbridgestotheafterlife). And, as the pioneer of #theundeadofinstagram, now #verified, I really feel that I've touched lives on both sides (#diversity #allinclusive).
The great thing about this movement, however, is that it isn't just about one zombie changing the social media landscape forever. All zombies, and their participating living victims, can totally take part by using my most popular hashtags. Who knows, with these hashtags you might go viral, too!
#dinnertime: High-quality shots of brains and intestines get the most likes. Brains are so cliché they're ironic and the latter is, like, good-natured trolling because it's so horrifying for the living to think about.
#thechase: No successful Instagram feed is complete without vines, videos, and boomerangs. Action really draws viewers in, especially when you can capture the visceral fear of the living as they run for their lives!
#thesneakattack: Not easy to pull off considering the uncontrolled moaning, gurgling, and growling zombies are prone to, but successfully stalking your living prey and surprising them makes for good posts. I mean the looks on their faces (#yourtimesup #nofilter #zombielife)!
#groupphoto: Zombies do spend a lot of their time milling about freeways, parking lots, and roaming around creepy forests shrouded in mist; it's the best time to get that group photo with all your undead buds.
#selfiewiththeliving: I mean, it's pretty self-explanatory. The trick, though, is holding them still for a picture and keeping your hungry friends at-bay long enough to get that perfect selfie with your new meal. Capturing the juxtaposition of ravenous smiling undead faces and petrified living ones is true art.
#dinnerwithfriends: There's nothing zombies love to do more than herd together and mindlessly follow the living until we catch them. I mean, we were obsessed with foody photos when alive—why not keep a good thing going (#rawmeat)!
The idea is to play around with it, see what works—like we all did when we were alive. Even undead folks enjoy posting pictures and getting likes. It seems that transitioning from living to undeath can't kill our unmitigated need for attention. Next to chasing down living flesh and eating it, zombies favorite thing still be posing for the ‘gram (#yolounlessyoureazombie)!