A high school teacher gained 1.5 million TikTok followers by poking fun at the rich

  • Shabaz Ali is a chemistry teacher who gained 1.5 million followers on TikTok by poking fun at the rich.
  • Ali has seen poverty in schools and wants influencers to be “more responsible” during the recession.
  • He said influencer culture is “dying” because people don’t want to see wealth displayed online.

Shabaz Ali is a TikToker who has garnered 1.5 million followers by poking fun at the rich.

Ali, who uses the handle “Shabaz Says” on social media, may have appeared on your TikTok feed lying in bed wearing colorful hoodies and insulting viewers for being a “povvo” – British slang for someone who is poor.

His audience knows him as “the CEO of ‘I’m Rich, You’re Poor,'” a series of videos in which Ali satirizes the luxurious lifestyles some people share online. Its aim is to show how detached they are from the millions of people who are suffering from soaring prices.

Ali’s videos could show him reacting in horror to an influencer buying a $550 dog collar from Gucci, or another claiming to spend $2,000 a month on branded glass water bottles from Norway.

The self-proclaimed “Robin Hood” is actually a 30-year-old high school chemistry teacher from Blackburn in the north of England who spoke to Insider during a break in the school day.

“Just before the lockdown, one of my students said to me, ‘Oh my god sir, you have to download this TikTok app, it’s really funny and you’re going to love it,’” he said. “During the lockdown we had nothing else to do, so it became a thing where I was recording videos.”

After appearing on a reality TV show called “The Circle” in 2021, Ali decided to put more effort into his social media accounts, especially TikTok. His laid-back style earned him nearly 500,000 followers in 2022, but it wasn’t until he started reacting to the wealthy that the tally topped the 1 million mark.

“It started with the idea that as a wealthy person you have so much free time that you can go out and make 17 different flavors of ice cream because you don’t have to go to work, you don’t have to. not have a job,” he said.

“I think we should be more responsible, especially in the current climate. Don’t be so deaf. In the cost of living crisis, there are people who have nothing to eat and then there are people who indulge in excess.”

Ali saw students suffer from poverty in the schools where he taught

Ali’s videos were partly inspired by his experiences as a teacher and the effects of government spending cuts on students.

“I worked at a school in Bolton and that was an absolute lifeline. Some children weren’t eating,” he said, adding that some wouldn’t get a hot meal at the weekend.

Ali didn’t like the focus on influencers by apps like Instagram and felt TikTok was the right place to address these issues in a more comedic way.

In one video, he reacts to a woman who paid £70 ($82) for designer cookies from Dior.

Ali’s fans even include the likes of singer Lily Allen – and some have offered to pay him to promote their lifestyle on his page.

“The age of the influencer is fading”

Ali’s videos reflect the feeling among some that influencers are losing their grip on audiences.

Some have embarked on “disinfluence,” or questioning the hype around cult products in an effort to appear more authentic and believable.

“The influencer age is fading away,” Ali said. “We don’t want to sit there being bombarded with images of beautiful people doing beautiful things with their beautiful money.”

He has no plans to become an influencer himself and won’t be leaving his teaching job any time soon. Despite 177 million views on TikTok in December, he says he only earned £28 ($33).

Ali is now exploring more lucrative social media platforms, where he says he is already making more money.

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