The "Influencer" Predicament

     I've been queried on my opinions of "influencers" by quite a few people and I think it's time to write my thoughts on the matter. I'll do my best to make this article as concise and effective as possible, in order to provoke intelligent discussion with potential to make a difference in people's minds.

     First up, I think it is an amazing paradigm shift: Once upon a time (a.k.a when I was a child and a teenager and basically for more of my adult life thus far), magazines were produced by snobbish companies and the people on the glossy papers were super special people whom you'd never be able to sit at a table with in real life. Magazines, and the people in them, belonged to the realm of desire and fantasy, and were unattainable. A handful of editors, photographers, talent managers, writers, designers and directors were the wizards who could easily make or break a person's celebrity career. But then the paradigm shift happened, and almost overnight (well that's what it felt like to me at least), anyone could put up their own online magazine featuring themselves, their homes, their clothes, their lives, etc. It's like someone waved a wand and took all the wizards' powers away! Gasp! One day I woke up and anyone could curate their own online magazine on Instagram and build themselves into celebrities. Instagram gave everyone the permission to be seen, heard, and celebrated. I think it's an excellent turn of events, I really do. I am an indie author, afterall, and while indie authors have existed for centuries (yes, really); I can still relate to the ability to create and curate on my own without the permission and judgment of giant publishing companies. So, it's all very liberating and empowering.

     There's a flipside to the coin, though, which cannot be left unsaid. On the flipside, it's a fact that anyone can pay for Instagram followers and even pay for follower engagement. Imagine an army that's fed and bred to defend you from haters and to hit "like" on every post you make. I personally know some people who paid for these "services" and garnered tens of thousands of followers overnight. The problem with this is simply that it's a sneaky way to outdo your competition. Not that being sneaky to outdo competition is anything new in the world, but, it's worth pointing out that it's a business just like all the other cutthroat business that goes on in the entertainment and fashion industries out there.

     Another worrying aspect is that the "influencer syndrome" is really just middle-school mean girl drama carried over into adult life and set on stage for all to see. Influencers forming their own "you can't sit with us" circles on Instagram, is, the most immature thing I possibly have ever seen in my entire life thus far. Not that it's new, because it's not, but it's worth pointing out that we shouldn't be influencing this type of mindset to continue on, especially in the age of feminism and women's empowerment. Because it's not empowering. 

     "Influencer syndrome" should also include the entitlement attitude of expecting to receive sponsored plane tickets, sponsored stays at resorts, sponsored clothing, etc. etc. is an unrealistic personal opinion, which the influencer holds, one that simply presumes companies need them to attract more customers. They're not realizing that this makes them an uncontracted employee of the company, rather than a much needed celebrity presence.

     It's amazing how anyone can curate their own online glossy magazine now and amass a following without the help of respected insiders. People can build themselves into a celebrity, rather than wait for someone else to come along and declare them as one. They may now declare themselves so. A liberty that we once never even thought possible. However, I'm not so sure it actually solves anything inside of us: the longing to be famous, the desire to be adored, seen and heard: the sting is still there because even though you have five million followers, someone else has ten million followers. It never really evens out, does it? And so, I'm not sure it solves anything at the end of the day. Someone else will still be adored more, will be heard and seen more... the struggle hasn't ended.

     It must be said that I wholeheartedly disagree with the term "influencer", though. The actual influencers, in my mind, are those who play a pivotal part in how society is formed and the direction in which our communities and nations take. Those working behind-the-scenes in the industries of education, medicine, bioengineering, IT, astronomy, literature, film, journalism, organizational leadership: those are the INFLUENCERS. And I don't think I even need to explain why. 

     I really think that the word "influencer" is too potent to apply to women on Instagram curating little kingdoms for themselves. I would rather they be called, "indie models". I think that would be a thousand times more appropriate, more applicable of a description for them and for what they do. They're indie models, not "influencers."

     I hope that you've enjoyed reading my thoughts on a very present-day state of being, which infiltrates our lives daily on social media. Feel free to share and to discuss. And ask me questions if you have any. As always, I hope this helps. Take care there, I hope that you are healthy and well.


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