Max Key is Just the Tip of the Iceberg: David Farrier Investigates NZ’s Extreme Instagrammers

Max Key may fall, but he is legion.
Max Key may fall, but he is legion.

Many of you would have watched Max Key's recent holiday video with a mixture of awe and incredulity. How could he afford so many wonderful things? Who is doing the filming? What is this beady thing?

You may not have realised that Max Key is the tip of a cultural iceberg. If anything, he is a low-ranked member of exclusive society bubbling in the depths of Instagram: a people that I (because I am an old man) call "extreme 'Grammers" or "EGs".

At first I thought their accounts were parodies - a kind of viral marketing ploy to get me to buy things. But it slowly dawned on me they are far from it. They are portals into another world: one more glimmering, marvellous and untouchable than any you or I will ever inhabit.

I'm about to take you on a trip through the work of some of my favourite, most dazzling EGs. I've censored most of their names, because you're not ready to see what I've seen. Right now I'm like Moses descending from Mt Sinai, my face glowing with reflected holy glory. You get just a small peek at my discoveries.

First, a man with what I call "the trifecta": Wine, watch & Waiheke.

It's a beautiful sight. And speaking of sights, what is he looking at? A comedy roast of Richard Branson? An inspiring Ted talk? Gold bullions being melted? Further investigation shows that on another site, he lists his interests as "the French language, social dynamics, the share market, and business". This photo must be at a French social dynamics sharemarket business lunch.

Another shot captures him in a pensive mood.

What is he thinking? It's impossible to tell, but the comments hint at what's going through his mind: "Beautiful man" states one. "Swoon" says another. One photo shows him gliding effortlessly through a vineyard. It's captioned "Fortune favours those who welcome being uncomfortable".

The only thing making me uncomfortable is not knowing who is taking these photos. It's a mystery that - along with my pet bird's endless deafening screams - is pushing me to the edge of madness.

Is a ghost photographer working for Auckland's elite? Max Key seems to be haunted by spirit paparazzi.

Max examines some ghost bones.

These types of accounts are more widespread than you'd think. Many of their owners started off documenting beautiful scenery. Then they realised they could vastly improve nature by putting expensive stuff in front of it.

Even a geothermic wonderland looks better with an Audi in the foreground.

Other EGs have given up posting scenery altogether, opting instead for an exclusive "things I own" approach:

It helps to put a framed photo of yourself next to the things you own.

A warning: Once you stumble onto these sorts of accounts, the journey never ends. Instagrams often lead to Facebooks, Ask.FMs and blogs. In these formats EGs are able to give more insight into their lives. This is some useful dating advice:

“You’re on a date with a girl. Where do you go, and what do you wear?”

“I believe that day time occasions are much more memorable and enjoyable, especially if the day can be finished with a picturesque sunset. In saying that, ideally it would be somewhere we both haven’t been yet. I am picturing a beach during a perfect sunny day, riding in my drop top with an ideal flavor of music to solidify the vibe. I’d be wearing a colorful, short sleeve button up with a white singlet underneath, simple shorts, boat shoes; dark shades and a Dappertime watch to really cap it off. A plain cardigan or sweater would also be packed in case the day turns to night and we decide to stay outside to appreciate nature’s flip side. Color pallets I’m enjoying this spring and summer are navy blues, dark green with gold accessories, favorite sperry, brown, leather boat shoes."

What if day does turn to night, as it has for millions of years? It pays to be prepared.

At this stage in the journey, my cell battery is running perilously low. What else to do but ponder what this man is pondering: Life.

What's it all about? Why are we here again? It's a difficult question. Best to have a drink and a laugh, and take a photo.