About Idealizing Influencers And The Toxic Side Of Social Media

How to become an influencer in 10 easy steps? Gain 10k followers in a short amount of time! Boost your popularity with vlogs and live videos! Do I have your attention? Great, why don’t you grab your tea, sit down and take the time to mindfully read this article. Especially if you are a millennial, struggling with the infamous ‘search for your identity’.

What is an influencer?

One of the perks of the late 2010s has been the rise of social media. We are able to connect with people all around the world by just one click. We can follow their youtube channel for their daily vlogs, get inspired by their outfits thanks to their snapchat stories and we can even watch them live on facebook. Those people do not necessarily have to be some travel buddies you met while you were exploring a foreign country. No, they can just be random strangers, who decided to share some parts of their private life on social media. The more their following grows, the more influence they have. They call themselves ‘influencers’. But who are they?

Let us start with the basis. Who can be defined as an influencer? According to the website influencermarketinghub, an influencer is

  •  “an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.”
  • “an individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with. The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.”
  • “Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred  social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic engaged people who pay close attention to their views.”

Note that in the first description, you can clearly read that the influencers’ main task is a marketing oriented goal. Influencers are social beings, who use their social relations and impact to influence the attitude of consumers who follow them. And yes, they can be social justice warriors, beauty gurus, lifestyle advisors (whatever the hell that means?) on the side.

What kind of influence do influencers really have?

Social media platforms can be really useful to read about things you could have never read about if you were just following the mainstream media. They can be inspiring to young people who cannot relate to the ‘mainstream’ people. They can even have an impact on political decisions. These platforms are uplifting because they can give a voice to the voiceless. But what is it exactly that we choose to be influenced about?

That skinny girl who gives the perfect fashion advice? Or that ‘health and lifestyle’ vlogger who talks about how yoga and veganism healed her depression? Let’s not forget about the picture perfect pious couple who collects funds for a heartbreaking charity every other day. And last but not least, that body positive model who has the perfect hourglass figure.

These people have millions of followers and choose to influence you about how a detox tea is gonna make you lose weight. They teach you how to hide your natural features by concealing and contouring them. They want you to buy certain items in the name of fair trade, while they earn a percentage off it every time you use their promo code. And this all happens with a (not so) hidden agenda who forces us to consume more.


We need a social (media) revolution

Girls, do not be fooled into thinking that more products will equal more beauty or happiness. Don’t try to change yourself in order to fit into an impossible beauty standard. Those people you follow are not honest about their intentions, they don’t tell you about their bad days, or the psychological effects of constantly changing their bodies.

Boys, do not think that your worth is measured by the zero’s in your bank account. No, that car will not get you a girl and it does not excuse your shitty attitude. You are entitled to feel certain emotions and show them without being questioned about your masculinity.

Influencers, be transparent. We know it is not easy to constantly live under the pressure of criticism.Those people you influence are making you a living, so the least you could do is grant them the truth.

We need a social media revolution. Unfollow influencers, and follow truly inspiring people. There are teachers, writers, nurses, artists, philosophers … who are worth the click. Do not chase fame and consumption. Focus less on feeding your ego, and more on feeding your mind.