Last summer was different than any other, with everyone quarantined at home wondering how to pass the time. Many jumped on the TikTok train, and a few lucky ones skyrocketed and became household names. Among the young influencers who generated a lot of buzz over the past few months with his TikTok content, was 19-year-old Farouk Elgohary. It all started when his now famous “peanut butter” video spread like wildfire, and in the process launched his new found status as an influencer. Since then, Elgohary has racked up a huge following and has been using his platform to spread positivity among his young audience. eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey sat down with Elgohary to find out more about the peanut butter enthusiast’s big 2020 social media moment.
Some time last summer, Farouk Elgohary, an engineering student at the German University in Cairo, was sitting in his car watching a video of a DIY tutorial showing peanut butter being used to fix broken ceramic flooring. Since he was known among his friends as an avid fan of peanut butter, Elgohary decided to film his reaction to the video on TikTok, yelling “PEANUT BUTTER!” in the special way his friends loved to hear. Little did he know that his “peanut butter” video would gain hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok and make him a social media sensation, with many people admiring his upbeat energy and others being turned off by it.
Doubters continue to find it hard to fathom why Elgohary’s videos drew so many followers to his platforms. The answer is simple, really. It’s like the saying: When life gives you lemons, just make lemonade. Life gave Elgohary peanuts and he screamed peanut butter! “I really was just sitting bored in my car and wanted to make people laugh. I thought it was funny so I decided to post it. Obviously, I do exaggerate the way I say “peanut butter” in the video. It’s become a funny catchphrase, that’s not how I really say it,” he exclaims. And the rest is history. Elgohary capitalised on his newfound peanut butter notoriety to launch his social media platforms which went on to attract a huge number of followers.
Besides being a student at university, Elgohary is an up and coming model. Searching for a way to earn some extra pocket money as a young boy, he sought and got the chance to take part in television commercials. Then, when he was about 16 years old, he got his first gig as a model. Ironically, since his rise to fame on social media, his modelling opportunities have taken a dive. “Brands now see me as more of an influencer than a model and they probably think that I am financially unattainable as a model. It sucks because I actually really like modelling and I wish I was getting gigs like I was before. Hopefully in the future that eases up a little bit and I get back into modelling,” he explains.
What started as a few social media followers soon snowballed into a huge fan base. Right before the New Year, Elgohary hit 100,000 followers on Instagram and 700,000 followers on TikTok. After consistent posting and creating content non-stop for nearly a year, Elgohary is hitting peaks he never thought he would reach. “It’s actually really weird because when I first started TikTok, I had a dream I was going to be big on it. Honestly, my success is completely random. It all happened very suddenly and I didn’t see it coming. It started when I was quarantined, and to pass the time I literally asked one of my close friends to teach me all about TikTok. It wasn’t planned really,” recalls Elgohary.
While generally praised for his positivity, Elgohary also gets flack by some, who feel he is being ‘overly energetic’ in his videos. In reality, however, positivity comes naturally to Elgohary and is part of his real personality. He is generally a pleasant, positive, kind and modest person. He is even somewhat shy. “Some people say that I’m pretending to be positive online, but I am just being myself. I usually see the glass that’s half full. That’s just how I think. When I saw that my positivity was catching people’s attention, I decided, ‘why not turn this positivity into what I stand for?’ It’s a great thing, and it’s a way for me to use my platform to do some good,” he recounts.
His positivity notwithstanding, Elgohary confesses that it’s sometimes hard for him to deal with the negative comments he receives on social media. It bothers him when people assume he’s an airhead, someone who is one dimensional and when they call him, “peanut butter.” “I have a name,” he says indignantly. He adds that he is accepting of criticism when it’s constructive, and that he often modifies his content based on comments he receives. “I pay attention to respectful comments by my followers, and I’ve changed things based on their feedback. I appreciate when people give me constructive criticism because it helps me become better. I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing, if it’s not connecting with people. I’m very open to changing and evolving,” he explains.
While the interaction on his five media platforms is mostly fun and lighthearted, Elgohary also posts videos on serious topics like negative peer pressure and sexual harassment. At times, everything gets a bit too much for Elgohary, who is after all, still a sophomore in college. “Sometimes it gets so hectic and I feel like my head is going to explode. I try my hardest not to think about the bad comments, but sometimes it’s impossible and I let myself feel how I feel. That’s also a message I want to send to people. Just try your hardest and don’t dwell on the negative, but you feel what you feel,” he laments. Clearly, he has his downs like the rest of us. “Sometimes I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and it seems like things won’t get better, but they always do,” he says, adding, “I can’t change fate. If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
While people are sometimes cruel to him online, Elgohary has a great circle of friends at college and a supportive family who keep him grounded. “My family was worried for my wellbeing when I first went viral. They were afraid that the negativity would get to me. But once they saw that I was fine, they became fine too. I’m very grateful for their support.” His mother and two sisters even join him on TikTok every now and then.
Despite his remarkable popularity on social media, however, Elgohary insists that he doesn’t want to be stuck in the box of ‘model and influencer.’ He says that he has plans to pursue music and acting, and recently took an acting course. “I’ve been offered some roles, but I refused them because I don’t think the time is right, yet. When I land a role, I really want to do it right. I don’t want to be an actor, I want to be a good actor,” he exclaims.
Clearly, there are more layers to this TikTok star than what we’ve seen thus far. As funny and silly as his content may be, Elgohary knows exactly what he’s doing. He has his years ahead planned out and he knows the goals he wants to achieve. But he doesn’t focus on these plans too much. “I don’t think I’m living my age. I feel like I am a bit too mature for my age. I felt that way even back in high school. While I know how to have fun and enjoy life, I’m always thinking, ‘how can I be productive?’ and ‘what can I do to benefit myself?’ At the end of the day, I’m grateful for the place I’ve reached and I’m excited to see what happens next!” And in case you’re wondering… yes, he does love peanut butter that much.