The Rise of the Social Influencer

In the age of Twitter and Instagram, a new breed of celebrity has been created: the social media influencer. They can be anything from models to comedians or just “lifestyle” people, but they all have the common theme of opening up their lives to the public on the internet. Some are more relatable than others, but in general, their social media accounts are a lot of pictures of them going to cool places in cute outfits while you’re at work or school.

Now everyone lies on social media to some degree—we want everyone to think that we are having more fun or doing more than we actually are. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that those whose job it is to post would make things look better than they are. But how is this shaping our culture? I’m pretty sure you have at some point while scrolling through Instagram seen a post of a hot young model posed next to a pool while promoting some new hair product. It’s everywhere. And with younger and younger kids using social media, they are seeing it, too.

 

 

The culture on most social media has become about who can do and accomplish the most while still looking like a size-2 model. But not everything is what it seems. Many of these people are brands themselves, since really all they do is try to make others interested in who they are. You see the gorgeous models in the car you can’t afford, which obviously makes you want that, and in the captions they push some stupid product. It comes down to a system in which people follow people due to either just liking them or wanting to be them; an exploitation of our deepest insecurities.

Now most of us feel like we would never be affected by obvious advertising, but in reality, it dictates who you are more than you would think. We see this lifestyle we want alongside the ad and subconsciously associate the two things. This is really how any advertising works, but now people that you follow online and have some level of admiration for are doing what a company does to you. And not all of these products are innocent tickets—things like hunger suppressants have been featured on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram page.

 

 

But who cares, right? Haven’t celebrities and corporations always been here to take our money? But think about how young some of these people’s followers are. From the body types they push to the unrealistic lifestyles, they create an image of reality that is ridiculous. The fact of the matter is that we don’t really need more social media stars, as it isn’t the most important or rewarding career choice. In addition, jean size shouldn’t be the means to happiness.

Western culture has become saturated in the idea that success is money and a specific lifestyle. We associate certain brands, body types, and ways of living as the ultimate goal. Social media stars are just the new way that companies are pushing these ideals onto us, often using people whom many kids see as role models or friends. One example is the Paul brothers on YouTube. Logan in particular sells his merch by preaching that buying his stuff makes you a part of his crew and that his crew can do anything. As if a fifty-dollar sweatshirt is going to make you a better person.

 

 

In a way, it is no different than Disney selling action figures or hats, but influencers use themselves to relate to kids, then project an unrealistic lifestyle, and to top it off, sell them things so they can be like them. Kids really do idolize some of these people, a lot of whom couldn’t care less about entertainment and more about making money. Their idyllic lifestyles are products of rich parents and illusions designed to trick kids into liking them. Now I’m not saying that all social media stars are like this, but many targeted at kids and teens are.

Social media stars are a product of the internet; they have taken the practise of making your life seem cool on the internet and made it their job. It isn’t inherently wrong , but people forget how unglamorous their lives probably are. In reality, people lie. And just because this is the way everyone wants to live doesn’t always mean it’s the best. We need to watch what our youth watches, see who is influencing their ideas of what the world is and who is marketing to them. Because even adults fall for it.