Dr Alex excitedly announced his new renovation project this week, saying he wanted to offer the chance for people to enjoy the beautiful place where he grew up. He also said he would be offering one of the cottages to a Ukrainian family in need. But it didn’t take long for the internet’s laws of gravity to kick in; he was soon inundated by furious comments accusing him of contributing to a second homes crisis in the area, with many locals now unable to find affordable housing.
“Tell me you’re a Tory without telling me”; “And where are local people supposed to live?”; “Congrats on ripping the heart out of a community”; “What about the homeless in Wales?” — these are just a few of the comments underneath his posts. People are right to be angry — in the past three years, the amount of properties in the area that have become second homes has risen by 45 per cent. Everyone is skint, the housing market is on fire, and bragging about your property portfolio kind of sticks the boot in.
But Dr Alex also said that he received threats of violence regarding the cottages, which seems a bit intense. The whole thing is giving me déjà vu from when fellow Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague went full Thatcherite on a podcast, declaring “we all have the same 24 hours in a day” and then promptly got trolled into the next century. A stupid thing to say. It’s also called: being 22.
Love Islanders and influencers seem to have become a lightning rod for resentment about social inequality. The fact that they are young, and that they have earned their fortunes from Young People Things like reality TV and social media, seems to breed a particular form of unpleasant snobbery. Don’t get me wrong, Molly-Mae has hardly been down the mines, but the dismissal of social media know-how makes my teeth itch. Older generations, perhaps because they don’t really understand it, don’t always get that building and maintaining an online presence does require skill. The pandemic made influencers, once sneered at as Gen Z posers too airheaded to hold down a real job, into prime earners. It’s estimated brands will have spent £12bn on working with influencers by the end of the year.
Besides, these aren’t the bad people in the grand scheme of bad people. Dr Alex may be a beneficiary of a dysfunctional housing market, and he may be adding to it — but he isn’t the cause of it. You can unfollow him, but you can’t unfollow the fact that a privileged few are deepening the gap between the rich and the poor in our society. As Love Islanders would say, it is what it is.
In other news…
It’s official: I can formally announce that I have come of age. The fact that one of the Beckhams’ children is getting married confirms it — I am an adult woman now. Firstborn Brooklyn, 23, is marrying American heiress Nicola Peltz, 27, at Palm Beach this weekend. Marquees have been erected at Peltz’s £76 million family home, guard dogs are patrolling the property, and rumoured guests include Mel B, Gigi Hadid, Rocco Ritchie, Snoop Dogg and, um, Phil Neville.
I grew up a Spice Girls obsessive, so this initially filled me with alarm at my being elderly. But now I’m just full of excitement. When Posh and Becks tied the knot, it was more a groundbreaking immersive theatre experience than a celebrity wedding — the pair sat on thrones, released doves and, at one point, wore matching purple outfits. How can Brooklyn and Nicola top that?