Delving Into the Dark Sides of Influencer Culture
Wed, April 21, 2021

Delving Into the Dark Sides of Influencer Culture

Influencer culture has become its own industry. It’s a powerful giant in the world of entertainment brought to you by different mediums in the media / Photo by: BublikHaus via Shutterstock

 

Influencer culture has become its own industry. It’s a powerful giant in the world of entertainment brought to you by different mediums in the media. That is, and what is possibly one of the biggest of them all, social media. 

Now, over the years, social media has evolved from just being a place to connect with friends and family in faraway places to a platform that allows for businesses to thrive. It has become a one-stop-shop for advertising and, these days, the world of the influencers. By now, almost everyone knows what an influencer is, and along with that, know some of their bad sides, too. 

Insular and Isolated 

In many cases on the internet, things can get incredibly personal. Because people have the freedom to air out anything they want, be it on an official account (where you can be held accountable) or a burner or troll account (the term for accounts that hide under anonymity and cannot be traced), the internet has become a veritable playground and minefield of ideas. 

The loudest voices can often trample the quietest ones, regardless of the fact that only one of them has the better thing to say. It doesn’t take a genius to understand The Daily Texan writer Maggie Lazaroski’s statement on the inherent ability of social media to isolate and further drive divide between people on the internet. 

In so many occasions, it has proven itself true. 

A big thing to blame here is the culture of the social media influencer, where we only see, and are expected to follow, the positive lifestyle and image. The thing is, despite how many filters and how many drafts we include to sunny pictures, the reality that brought it possible is thickly underwhelming. 

In many cases on the internet, things can get incredibly personal. Because people have the freedom to air out anything they want, be it on an official account or a burner or troll account / Photo by: Zabavna via Shutterstock

 

This unblemished life can be detrimental to those of us who always feel alone and isolated, because even though we sometimes only want good pictures to go in our own Instagram feeds, it also has an effect on people who go online on social media usually out of depression and loneliness. Does this mean that influencers trying to make a living from almost living perfect lives are to blame? Not really. 

According to a study by the University of Pittsburgh, it has just been this way since social media became part of our lives. The perfectness ruins us, and we might not know it, but we aspire that, too, and yearn to follow the social standard where our lives are as easy and perfect as theirs. 

The study found that 98% of people aged 18 to 24 who use social media experience the pressure to “project an image of themselves that is desirable to everyone who might see it.” 

Promotion of False Items and Services

It seems the need to be perfect in almost every way is a theme that permeates almost every aspect of the influencer industry. Take, for example, the RealReal, a luxury consignment dealer now facing scrutiny “over allegations that its authentication process may not be as credible as the company claim,” reports Highschool Insider, a website dedicated to sharing news written for students, by students. 

Where does the influencer factor in this? By association, of course. The business model of the average influencer is such that they are directly in the sights of marketers these days because of the effortless way in which they can get social media fame by consistently posting the on-trend things, and luxury items never go out of style. 

According to writer Atussa Kian of Highschool Insider, influencers have gone on to promote these items recently despite the fact that they are recently being accused as fraudulent. 

Some influencers have even promoted other services, usually health-related, such as vitamins that actually only look aesthetically pleasing, and even harmful weight loss products that do nothing to help push forward movements such as body positivity, and perhaps even Russian intervention.

The business model of the average influencer is such that they are directly in the sights of marketers these days because of the effortless way in which they can get social media fame by consistently posting the on-trend things, and luxury items never go out of style / Photo by: 1000 Words via Shutterstock

 

It would be too much of a stretch to say that the Russians had a big hand in making the influencer culture as chaotic as it is, especially when there are many variables to this. They are still part of it, though; according to The Mary Sue’s Jessica Mason, Russian trolls on social media platforms like Instagram sell themselves as “liberal black women” who post content that “push at existing cultural ‘stress points.’” The Mary Sue is a feminist community for geek culture.

They perpetuate the "us versus them" argument and further divide the largely bipartisan crowds of almost every country. It may just predominantly be the United States where influencer culture is at its biggest, but the fact remains that they are sowing divide and disgust among crowds so that no conversation or reconciliation is made. 

When meeting in the middle is what we need the most. Misha Collins, a cast member of Supernatural, says it best:

“The only way we’re going to end partisan division and reunite our country is through actively listening to each other and finding places of intersection. We’ve got to find places where our common humanity supersedes politics so we can build bridges, not walls.”