Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 January 2020

Why your New Year's resolution should be to unfollow influencers

The number of people making a living from social media has grown exponentially in the last decade, but I'm done with glorified promoters for 2020

Emily Ratajkowski has 25 million followers on Instagram. Getty Images
Emily Ratajkowski has 25 million followers on Instagram. Getty Images

The past decade has witnessed the evolution of social media. From Twitter and Facebook to Snapchat and Instagram, our view of the world and how people live within it is constantly changing. And whether we want to admit it or not, it’s affecting the way we live our life, too.

According to the Pew Research Centre, seven in 10 Americans today use social media to connect with one another. In many ways, these platforms have helped keep us connected with the world, stay in touch with friends over the years and have even exposed the talents of many. But just as equally important, social media has also introduced a destructive culture. Enter the word “influencer”. This word, which has taken on a new meaning in our day and age, can be a troubling one.

Here’s my definition: influencers are people who have a large following and are active on social media. They are essentially lifestyle bloggers who travel around the world, and are good at posting pictures and videos of their life. Their posts include a mix of fashion, beauty, fitness and even family. Using curated media, they create a following, an exercise that is boosted further through marketing from big brands.

It was only five weeks ago that model Emily Ratajkowski, who boasts 25 million followers, posted a photo of herself in a bikini in a paid post at Waldorf Astoria Maldives. It makes me wonder if a place, in Ratajkowski’s own words, as “heavenly” as the Maldives, needs a supermodel’s derriere to make money?

This isn’t necessarily an example of bad marketing for Waldorf Astoria, but proof of why influencers are a bad example for us. If there’s one thing I have learnt this past year it is exactly that and here are the reasons why:

Influencers are not as inspirational as they claim to be. The truth quite simply is that by showing off their carefree life, they actually leave people feeling worse about themselves. The average user can’t do the same and to watch someone live this kind of life on a daily basis can be mentally damaging.

They’re paid ads in human form. Even if people wanted to adopt the life of an influencer, they couldn’t afford it. They not only get a lot of things for free, but are paid for by brands they wear and places they stay at.

There is no real content. Skimming through the accounts of influencers, you see image upon image of contoured faces in different parts of the world. “Hey guys! I love you so so much” and “What are you guys doing today?” are some captions with these photos. Seriously, who cares?

There’s a difference between building a network because of the work you do, or your talent, but to be famous for being famous, how is that not showing off? Because of the way social media works, influencers need to constantly feed the beast, which is what has turned them into experts at blowing everything out of proportion, or what I describe as “milking it”.

So, this New Year, why not click the unfollow button?

Updated: December 31, 2019 04:21 PM

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