If you have been present online during the last days, you must have heard about the 19 year old Instagramer, Essena Oneill that literally had a meltdown about her discontent towards some practices used to gain followers, likes and views on social media deciding to quit her IG and Youtube accounts. I thought I would be done writing about the art of faking it for a while until I saw her video and felt a thousand different things at once.
At first I thought: You go girl. Educating people about the famous “Nothing is what it seems” and encouraging them to be themselves instead of aiming fake perfection. Bravo for that: the most powerful message of this video is that everyone should be who they really are because if you fake a life that isn’t yours, you just get lost. The price of faking it is that you end up having no clue of the person you are. I thought it was terribly brave to open up and pushing people to be more aware of the reality. Social Media can indeed be dangerous as younger audience have access to it and can be easily manipulated about its content. That’s what I thought, until I rewatched the video.
I rewatched the video realizing that Essena was an 18 year old teenager that wasn’t ready to handle all the downsides of the career she chose: And who can blame her, she was 16 when everything started. As much as telling her personal story is her way to create awareness and changing the game, drawing huge generalizations isn’t the right way to do so. Not everything is white or black, I am working with a blogger and have studied Business and marketing for 5 years, so I have an opinion that is biased by both sides.
NO, Social Media isn’t a business. It is way more than that, it has unabled so many people to have a voice, consumers to finally have more power in front of companies and has given the opportunity to many people to live of their passions. YES, bloggers, youtubers, instagrammers and influencers are marketing tools that companies use to promote their products. YES, social media is the place where these brands chose to promote their products. But I’m sorry to tell you that Marketing or selling products, isn’t anything new. And that’s something that viewers are more and more aware of, lots of products we see on these platforms are sent by companies to be promoted.
But if you want me to be honest: i don’t follow influencers on Instagram or read someone’s blog for the clothes or product. I like to see stories, pretty pictures, well created content, well edited videos. I want to travel trough my favorite bloggers, I want to laugh through my favorite youtubers and I want to start a conversation with people, not content.
People just need to separate two things: Social Media and the Influencer.
Social media isn’t evil.
Social Media is just a NEUTRAL instrument that influencers use to publish their content. You as a publisher choose the line you want to follow: You choose if you want to be a pretty face, you choose if you want to share more of your personality, you choose if you want to have an opinion. And because there is a consumer segment available for every influencer, you will be able to find an audience that admire you for what you decide to communicate weather it’s based on looks, humor, brains or your personality.
Depending on the kind of influencer you want to be and the audience you will reach, companies will get in touch with you. And you know what: You are in your right to say no. If you don’t feel like any of those products are congruent with the person you are and you don’t want to lie to your audience: Don’t accept the deal and publish stuff that actually interest you. If you want to make it you career and earn money for it: be ready to handle the fact that you will have to publish content that might no be aligned with it. But most of all and as in all jobs, be ready to separate your private life from your work life. Be ready to draw a line between reality and what you are selling.
Saying that all the people that fake having wonderful lives are in reality miserable is generalizing: Some people get lost in the fake and other are able to set the limits and play perfectly the part. Just like a normal job.
Saying that everybody is fake on social media is also ridiculous: It is saying that everybody is the same as you, that everybody feels the same as you and that everybody has the same purpose as you. I am not some big instagramer or whatever, I have 2300 followers I am proud of but non of them condition my happiness nor ever will. I understand that at 12 years old, your happiness is based on social acceptance and that nowadays conditions make that social acceptance is measured by the amount of followers and likes you have. But at 18, you should be able to realize that you can’t base your happiness on something purely virtual. What I am doing here is my Hobby, I enjoy it and I love the fact that people appreciate it but my world wouldn’t fall apart if I stopped working in that part of my life. Because I just don’t consider this as my life and no one should ever consider this as their lives: it is just not healthy. It might be your hobby or your job but it should never define you as a person.
Finally, Essena I got to say. Wow: Marketing Genius and without any master or bullshit of that kind. Sorry if I might sound harsh but Fake is something is just can’t bear. I almost believed it, until I realized this whole thing was getting viral thanks to social media and that all the traffic was redirected to your new website. A website where you will be publishing content but mostly ASKING YOUR AUDIENCE TO SUPPORT YOU FINANCIALLY. If you say you are so tired of the online game, why making a website where you ask money to your fans and not trying to find a REAL JOB instead? Saying that you can’t afford paying the rent is indeed a shame as a lot of young audience looked up to you. That to me is manipulation. Either you decide to be an online presence without faking it and making money of it, either you fake the perfect life. But trying to do both honey, well it’s just not classy.
Lots of love always,