Wednesday, 3 July 2019

The Rise of Influencer Hatred & Why It Needs to End


Dress - ChicWish (gifted)

When I first started blogging, there was a kind of general nonchalance regarding it as a career choice. For reference, I started blogging in 2014, a time when there were actually very few 'professional influencers' and most people simply blogged as a hobby. The idea of it becoming my job had always been an early goal of mine. As someone who is extremely creatively driven, the idea that I could work for myself and be creative was a huge draw for me. I'd spent many years trying to choose a career path but often reaching a dead end because there was really nothing that I could see myself doing. That was, until blogging happened.

Fast forward five years and it now is my job. I feel extremely lucky to be able to earn money doing something that I am passionate about, and while many people may assume blogging is 'easy', there's a lot more to it than people realise. I won't go on about this too much as I already wrote a whole post on whether being an influencer is easy or not here

But, one thing I've certainly noticed more and more is the rise of an utter hatred for influencers as a whole, and as a young woman who has worked extremely hard on my content, it can be distressing to see. 

There isn't a day that goes past where I don't see either a negative commentary piece regarding the influencer industry as a whole in mainstream media, or a barrage of raging comments on a Facebook/Twitter thread, throwing out insults and death threats left right and centre. 

A recent example of this I saw was with viral tweets and several articles circulating regarding 'influencers' taking photos at Chernobyl. The main headline I saw "Instagram Influencers are flocking to Chernobyl for likes" - an extremely damning headline that immediately rises a sense of disgust for influencers. It's understandable. How could people visit an area of extreme tragedy and devastation simply for likes? 

However, looking deeper, presented in the original tweet regarding this were four examples of 'influencers' taking photos here. Three of these people were not even influencers. They were simply regular people with an Instagram account who snapped photos there. The fourth was an influencer, however it was failed to be presented the full backstory of her posts. Her captions were lengthy with a lot of educational content about the disaster. The photos merely provided context and were not a 'full photoshoot' as some were saying. Sadly, the influencer in question deleted these posts after the backlash, meaning a lot of educational content that gave valuable insight into this event were erased. 

In the age of fake news, this truth was all washed away. If I google 'influencers' and 'Chernobyl' together now, the articles have stuck. The hatred is there and therefore thousands of people have been left with the same impression - influencers care about nothing but likes and have no concern for anyone but themselves. 

Even though 3/4 of the people featured in these articles were not influencers, a trend I saw in the comments was the constant wish of death or harm upon the influencer industry as a whole. As one man wrote, 

"Not a day goes by where I don't wish for the slow, painful death of anyone who has the audacity to call themselves an influencer".

This is just one of hundreds. 

When you really think about it, how many industries are there where people are continuously loathed by a large number of society, consistently told that they are worthless and encouraged to kill themselves? It's quite frankly disgusting.

Like any industry, there are people who aren't good people and I'm not going to deny that there are influencers out there who have questionable morals or who make bad choices. But there are doctors who don't do their job correctly; are we going to tarnish all doctors with the same brush and wish death upon them? Of course not. But for influencers it's ok? 

It's hard to tell if it is merely just a lack of education around what influencers actually do that leads to this uncalled for hatred, but even then I doubt that people will change their minds. On a recent article I saw an influencer explain that her job wasn't just snapping a pic and getting paid for it. She explained the work that goes into it, that she's always online and the toll it can take. The response? You guessed it. Death wishes, and people telling her to "stop complaining and get a real job". There really is no winning. 

So no, I don't think it's the lack of education either. To me, it is merely ignorance and disrespect for an industry that has allowed young women to work for themselves and create their own brand and businesses. Influencing is a near entirely female dominated industry and, let's face it, people hate it.

People hate the fact that young women are achieving more than ever, simply from utilising their own skills and working hard. If done correctly, influencing is a lucrative business, so when people see these women earning what they earn they immediately get frustrated, angry and believe they must be undeserving. How dare they earn that much money from 'just posting a photo'?! 

The strange thing is, male influencers hardly ever seem to make mainstream news in a negative way. Yes, there are fewer of them, but they are still there and they still make mistakes. But it is the women who receive the brunt force of the hatred from society. Do we really think this is a coincidence? 

Even the words I see used against influencers as a whole are inherently stemmed from feminine insults - words like 'thot', 'slut' and 'whore' are thrown around like confetti. On a regram of mine the other day to a rather popular London page, someone referred to Influencers as 'vacuous women'. We are constantly framed as stupid, mindless little girls, when in reality, influencers are extremely intelligent and savvy businesswomen. 

Online content creation may be a new career, but it's a career nonetheless. This incessant hatred of influencers needs to stop, not only because it's unbelievably toxic, but because it shows young women that if they try to break free from their expected path in life they are ultimately met with ridicule and disgust. A young girl now may wish to grow up to be an influencer and be laughed off and told to find a real job instead. I know when I was at school I wanted to be an actress - a job that is just as competitive if not more difficult to achieve than influencing, but I was encouraged by my teachers. 

We should be encouraging young girls and women to take a path in life that makes them happy, that gives them financial freedom and allows them to do something they love. 

We're not asking for sympathy or even praise for what we do. We're just asking for respect, and why is that too much to ask in any job? x
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