The Untold Insecurities Behind The Influencer Culture
Dais Editorial | 09/04/2022 04:33 PM
A glittery world that runs on the currency of insecurities.
“We are the product. Our attention is the product that is being sold to the advertisers.”
– Justin Rosenstein, Co-Founder of Asana, former engineer at Facebook and Google.
If you are a social media buff, then in all probability you have spent hours scrolling your Instagram feed, wishing for the perfect abs or that dream job or maintaining a balanced diet with kale juice and avocados which everyone seems to be eating! We all have our fair share of self-guilt, crying out into the void- WHY IS MY LIFE NOT PERFECT ENOUGH?! But, here’s the twist.
What if that impending feeling of ‘not being good enough is an algorithmically generated tool that feeds off your deepest fears and thrives on emotional drainage? What if the glittery world of perfection on your screen is nothing but a masquerade of manifestations of low self-esteem, body image issues and deteriorating mental health? These questions are worth pondering upon.
Research published in the ‘Journal of Abnormal Psychology’ suggests that more than 50% of 18 to 34-year-olds feel that social media (along with reality TV) has become detrimental to shaping their self-image. The ComRes survey of 2,000 British adults also showed that young adults, who are the mass consumers of social media content, are more likely to opt for cosmetic surgeries.
Be it body-image issues, hollow self-esteem, depression and anxiety-induced mind, the cut-throat Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) or the vicious impulse to indulge in our temptations because of YOLO, the reality behind influencer culture and the harrowing impacts of it on our mind, body and soul is slowly surfacing out on our daily activities. (Read 4 steps towards Acceptance)
Despite knowing the risks of it all, there’s a high chance that you will toss this article off your head and jump back into scrolling reels on Instagram or sharing memes on WhatsApp. So, why do we keep devouring content on social media despite knowing the jeopardizing impacts of it all? Well, it’s pretty much the same way a person keeps smoking despite knowing that it causes cancer- because it’s ADDICTIVE!
Scientific study on addiction and its co-relation to social media suggest that increasing screen time triggers happy hormones (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins) in our brains which regulates our moods and emotional stability. These hormones are secreted whenever we indulge in certain activities such as playing sports, sex, exercising etc. and encourage us to repeat these activities over time. However, the bigger mystery of social media lies in its capacity to emotionally wreck us while providing a visual and mental sense of gratification.
There is absolutely no lie in the fact that social media is addictive, but the influencer culture adds the cherry on the top; a fantasy land where photo-genic people lead aesthetic lives and go for picturesque vacations, without worrying about washing dishes, feeding their pets and meeting deadlines. Influencer culture inundated its followers with the false reality of an aesthetically rich worry-free life, a wet dream come true for most millennials and Gen-Zs. (Read: The Leaking Buckets of Life; The Wisdom to Fix It)
It’s not a mere coincidence that users mostly between the age of 13–25 years experience a higher generation of content related to body image. In the world of “mental-health deep dive” marketing strategies, a recent data leak, later published by Wall Street Journal portrays that Instagram is one of the most powerful engines for “social comparison” where teenagers and young adults are blasted with idealized images of bodies on their feeds, appearing as advertisements, videos, and content in the app’s Explore page.
‘The Social Dilemma’ is a documentary film on Netflix, takes a deeper dig into the minds of users and concludes that nothing that appears on your feed is a matter of coincidence, rather it’s a very particularly algorithmic generated strategy to keep you hooked to the apps by providing specially curated content which triggers your deepest insecurities and inner-dissatisfaction.
However, not everything about social media and influencer culture is bad. Digital platforms have given the people to voice their opinions and ‘influence’ others through their daily activities. One cannot deny the immense power of ‘influencing’ others, as politicians, senators, celebrities, authors from diverse backgrounds scavenge for OUR attention on social media forums while simultaneously regulating our behaviour.
Let's just question, what is the influencer culture lacking? In one word, the simplest answer perhaps is - diversity. Diversification of portrayal of content can regulate and change how we see the world and ourselves. The increasing portrayal of influencers in different shapes, sizes, colours, races, ethnicities and lifestyles can create a much more inclusive space on digital platforms, reassuring its users that they are not ‘missing out’ on anything, rather they are just as (im)perfect as everyone else. Do we now need a lot more mix of Killi Paul(s) or Parvathi Benu(s) or Anniee Leiney(s) to bring along that much-needed diversity of “we don’t come from a perfect place” true figures?
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