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  • YouTuber and musician Gabbie Hanna uploaded around 40 stories on her Instagram where it looked like she was at Coachella festival.
  • But she actually faked the whole thing.
  • With clever Photoshopping skills, bright outfits, and some carefully filmed videos, Hanna tricked people into thinking she was attending the festival in Indio, California.
  • Her subscribers were shocked because she has been vocal about Coachella not being her thing.
  • She said her message was to take social media with a grain of salt, because nobody’s life is perfect.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

A week ago, Coachella had just ended, and festival-goers were slowly dragging themselves back to reality.

But YouTuber and musician Gabbie Hanna didn’t struggle to get back to her regular life, even though her Coachella experience had been full on, judging by her Instagram stories.

That’s because she never actually went.

“OOPS i faked it all!” she wrote in an Instagram post. “go check out the video on how i pretended to go to coachella up now!”

Hanna told INSIDER she has always been vocal with her 6.5 million subscribers about not being the kind of person who would enjoy Coachella, so it would be a challenge to trick them into believing she really went.

“I just thought it was funny,” she said. “I had a lot of fun doing it. It actually took so much effort, because the photoshopping was taking so much time sending them going back and forth.”

Even though she didn’t actually travel to Indio, California, Hanna also didn’t get much rest over the weekend. From Thursday night, she was filming, taking photos, and editing, all for a video about her social experiment which was to be uploaded on the Monday.

She wasn’t the only person to fake it this year — London-based YouTuber Byron Denton also fooled many of his followers into believing he attended the festival.

Read more: I went to Coachella but I don’t plan on going back — here’s why it doesn’t live up to the hype

Hanna uploaded about 40 Instagram stories overall, including video of a friend’s apartment she pretended was an Airbnb, and images of her lying down on the grass that could have been mistaken for Coachella’s lawn.

One detail that proved difficult to fake, however, was the weather.

“In LA it is always so sunny, but that day is was so cloudy and cold,” she said. “In Indio California is was very, very sunny, it was 95 degrees, so trying to match the lighting was scary, because that’s hard to manipulate in Photoshop.”

Hanna was also concerned about coming clean because she’s seen people get “cancelled” for pulling pranks on their fans before — where they think a joke has been taken too far and decide not to support you anymore.

“They say ‘you’re lying to us,’ and ‘we don’t want you to be dishonest,'” Hanna said. “I was worried about people being upset about having tricked them, because we have such personal relationships with our audiences, so I didn’t want them to feel duped.”

The real view from the balcony (left) and the edited version.
Gabbie Hanna / Instagram

The biggest YouTubers have millions of subscribers, but they have a relationship with them that’s unlike that of conventional movie stars or pop stars with their fans. That’s why Hanna was anxious to create an enjoyable video explaining it all.

“We want them to like it, we want them to feel a sense of community and respect, that you would want your friends or family to feel,” Hanna said. “So I’m always worried about doing something that they’re not going to like, or even that they don’t find enjoyable or entertaining. I’m literally doing this for entertainment for them.”

She said YouTube creators build their careers with subscribers finding, liking, and subscribing to them them one by one.

“What I personally decide to show is the actual reality of what I’m doing all the time, but sometimes you can’t make a career out of that,” she said. “I’m lucky that people seem to like my reality, but for some people they’re really looking for that person to see a really beautiful escapism lifestyle.”

For example, people like to watch the Kardashians, but sometimes they prefer to see someone going to a drive-thru, she said.

Gabbie Hanna / Instagram

This was another reason why Hanna chose Coachella. It’s one of the most famous festivals in the world, so celebrities flock to it. But it’s hard for people to distinguish between the dream and the reality when their photos appear on social media.

For instance, some of your favourite creators will go to Coachella and take amazing photos, but what you don’t see is the makeup and stylist teams they brought along with them.

She said the message she wanted to send was to take social media with a grain of salt, and realize there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

“Nobody has this perfect life, and the reality is a lot of people who went to Coachella weren’t having this amazing fabulous time they were portraying,” She said. “They were actually there to get the good pictures and being hot and uncomfortable and paying to have makeup artists to fly out to California in order to make that all happen.”

It’s not the free, effortless event it seems in photos, and actually, camping out in the desert isn’t for everyone.

Read more: The world’s biggest YouTube stars told us they’re burning out because of the unrelenting pressure to post new videos

Hanna said she always had the fear of missing out (FOMO) during school and college, and even some of her adulthood. She would go to clubs and events just to take the photo and show she was there, rather than attending the few things she really wanted to do.

“I literally was going to these events to say ‘oh did you see I went to that movie premiere, did you see I went to that opening?'” she said. “It’s so draining of my energy and my time and my priorities were so wrong.”

She said while this isn’t her idea of a good time, it is for a lot of people, and that’s great for them. But she’s learned over time that it’s better to choose your own socializing, whether that’s partying and getting photos of the Coachella wheel, or sitting at home with a few close friends.

“I think social media is one of the greatest things that has happened,” Hanna said. “It’s given people a voice, it’s empowered so many people … As long as you have the healthy balance of realizing that you can’t compare yourself to the curated images and having your expectations be lowered, I guess, for yourself, because nobody’s life is as perfect as they show.”

Gabbie Hanna / Instagram

Hanna said she learned from the experience that sometimes it’s fun to do things that make you uncomfortable.

“I’m not the type of person to dress up and do my hair and makeup like that and put on crazy outfits, so that was a fun experience,” she said. “Just kind of put myself in someone else’s shoes and understand why they enjoy that so much.”

Still, she said it hasn’t changed her mind about actually ever attending the festival.

“Yeah, I mean, I won’t,” she said with a laugh.

You can watch Gabbie Hanna’s full video below.

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