Did you really want that SKYlite Galaxy Starry Sky Projector for your bedroom? Did you really need that Dior Forever Skin Glow 24h* Wear Radiant Perfection Skin-Caring Foundation? Or did some twenty-something influencer hype it up during a 15 second TikTok that likely took them 15 hours to carefully curate? That’s what I thought. I too have fallen prey to the hypnotizing halo that seems to hang suspended above the influencer holding (insert product name here) in their hands. It’s so easy to think influencers are our friends – they want us to have the best of the best – right? But the truth is, it is their job to convince us we “need” products we didn’t even know existed before.
I can really surprise myself. I can go months without questioning the content I absorb while scrolling on social media. But sometimes you have to hit the peak of a bad habit before you can realize its destructive pattern. Exam season hits – procrastination station. Feeling conflicted about studying, pretending to be productive while “half-listening” to those lectures I have to catch up on, while really I’m just on my phone watching some young content creator try to sell me trendy period underwear. As if somewhere in the thicket of social media fakeness I’ll find the cure for my discontent. It’s f*cked up. But we can all relate. We even make memes about it. But laughing it off won’t get to the root of the problem. Let’s just call it like it is. I believe influencer culture is the Ross Geller of the internet. Like watching Ross get more and more annoying on each season of Friends, influencers are entertaining for a bit, but after a while you start to see how problematic they can be.
Companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in influencer marketing every year by sending out copious amounts of PR packages to influencers and sponsoring content. The marketing industry discovered that they could have access to us almost every hour of the day by disguising themselves as everyday people. These “normal” people seem pretty chill at first glance – they have a nice apartment, shiny hair, clear skin and a “perfect” body. So, we give them a follow. As we watch their reels and like their posts, we notice they use certain products that seem to be contributing to their ideal lifestyle. We catch ourselves thinking, “This product might help me with this problem I’ve been struggling with.” We use their affiliate links to buy the product and wait in anticipation as it ships from point A to point B. It finally arrives and we are excited for a week, two weeks tops, until we notice it isn’t filling the hole in our lives like we thought it would. Why am I not happy like *insert influencer’s handle here*? Only after spending XXX dollars on the product do we realize that we aren’t the only ones struggling. Influencers’ lives aren’t perfect, even though the aesthetic of their grids are immaculate. Influencers, like all humans, have insecurities and messy problems that we all deal with every day. But the solution isn’t selling propped-up versions of ourselves on social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T REAL.
Long-lasting fulfillment can only be found when we live authentically. You don’t have to hash out every part of yourself online to “prove” you’re authentic. Living beyond the confines of social media means having real conversations with your real friends about real sh*t. Don’t be afraid to talk about the unspoken, the taboo, the weird. Because chances are, everyone else is experiencing it too. And the feeling you get from someone saying “me too” tops buying a new bucket hat or a trendy shirt any day.
If you are like me: still addicted to social media and cannot kick the habit for the life of you, don’t worry. We don’t have to throw our phones out the window to escape the grasp of influencers. If you are looking for some authenticity to break up the phonies in your Instagram feed, you can check out a few *rare* accounts run by women who remind us that social media isn’t real: self-love activist Danae Mercer, author Megan Jayne Crabbe, and Canadian writer Bianca Sparacino.
So, before you make your next TikTok-made-me-do-it purchase, remember this: you are whole and worthy exactly as you are. Everything you need can be found within yourself.