Short Take: The Secret Life Of A Social Media “Influencer”

Wasn’t it embarrassing enough that Payless shoes pranked social media fashion mavens with its pop up store, Palessi?

But you ain’t seen nothing yet. Meet Alexa.

Alexa was choosing a dress for a party. It was taking a while. This always happens, she gets carried away with every little thing. She was late, but she wasn’t worried because everyone’s always late, apart from her boyfriend Olly, who is always on time and was already there, which she felt bad about because he was only going to the party to support her, just like he always did. The decision about what to wear was painful because she had to figure out what would look right. Not what would look right to someone else, or even to herself, but what would look right in a photo.

No, Alexa isn’t a designer at the House of Dior, worried that her “look” might end up on Fashion Police.

She’s always thinking about how things will look in a photo. She’d already posed the dilemma to her followers on her story, Instagram’s video feature which self-deletes after 24 hours, and there were dresses strewn across her bed.

Why does she obsess so? Why does she live in constant fear of lack of validation?

Alexa wants to grow her personal brand and become an influencer. She’s already an ambassador for an active-wear company, Seeing Things, and a vegan condom brand, Hanx, and if she can gain enough followers on Instagram she might transfer her profile to YouTube.

Apparently, there is such a thing as vegan condoms. Who knew? Does this make her feel happy?

Now she’s more worried about her career, about how well she’s doing or feels she should be doing. Her university graduation was the worst day of her life – the memory of it alone makes her cry. She stood on the stage in what should have been a moment of celebration and had a panic attack and afterwards lay on the floor of a toilet cubicle and sobbed. It felt like the end of everything, like she’d never be able to hold down a real job, like she couldn’t possibly be successful. Everyone else always seems to be going faster, doing better, winning.

Sometimes it feels like a thing now, being anxious. Everyone’s anxious. Or depressed. On social media you have to have a backstory, something you’ve been through or some kind of condition, in order to have credibility. She feels jaded about it, until she remembers that not long ago people wouldn’t even mention the fact that they had a mental-health problem for fear of losing their job or being stigmatised in some way. Surely it’s better to be open and honest. To over-share than to share nothing at all?

It’s almost as if being miserable, maybe even suffering from mental illness like anxiety or depression, is a badge of honor to be worn on social media for the “likes” and “thoughts and prayers” that validate an influencer’s existence and self-worth.

Much as I’m universally admired for my exemplary fashion sense, I have chosen not to try to monetize it by becoming a vegan condom ambassador and not having a Youtube channel because my self-esteem is doing just fine without your validation. It’s enough that you have Alexa to learn from and can now buy your shoes at Payless. You’re welcome.

14 thoughts on “Short Take: The Secret Life Of A Social Media “Influencer”

  1. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    After much reflection, and despite my exquisite fashion sense, I have decided not to comment on what women wear.

    All the best.

    RGK

    Reply
      1. Ross

        That’s much politer than my thought that Alexa leads a sad fucking existence, well described by the Economist writer. She needs a real job, and a mentor to figuratively slap the crap out of her on a regular basis until she understands how the real world works.

        Reply
        1. SHG Post author

          The problem I find is that they no longer want elder mentors, as we expect too much of them and they find the comfort and solace they desperately need from their “likes” on social media. As long as people validate them, they can survive another day.

          Reply
        2. Sacho

          “Influencer” is a very real job, in the sense that it makes serious money if you make it big(the top dogs allegedly make millions yearly).

          I won’t pretend to know the deep motivations behind “emoting” as hard as Alexa does, to the point you call it “mental illness”, but it sure makes for a convenient excuse whenever you trip an offense-mine. This makes it quite a useful tool in modern day “digital life”.

          Reply
          1. DaveL

            “Influencer” is a very real job, in the sense that it makes serious money if you make it big

            That doesn’t sound like a characteristic of a “real job”. The real jobs I’m familiar with command respectable compensation for the majority of their workers. That huge money is made by a few would seem to give it more kinship with things like playing football, playing in a rock band, or gambling, none of which are generally regarded as a “real job”.

            Reply

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