Your Assumptions About Influencers are (Mostly) Wrong
Why do we bash Instagrammers so much?
The influencer industry gets a lot of stick. Especially recently. I can think of no end of articles that are constantly bashing Influencers, who are mostly young woman, who make a living for themselves. But what I find hilarious about these articles, and some of the comments, is that they make a lot of assumptions about us as people. Most of these assumptions don’t apply to me. So I’ve curated a list of the assumptions I hear about most and whether I think they are true or not.
(You can find my Instagram account here)
Just a few disclaimers here: I’m only one person and I can’t speak for every single influencer that’s out there. I may not agree with some of the way that influencers do their work, but this is in no way me bashing them. You can respectfully disagree with a photo that someone does. I’ll never be mean about that. I also want to say that I think there’s a HUGE difference between English and American influencers. You need look no further than Coachella. Can you imagine someone at Reading Festival trying to take photos in the Coachella style? It just wouldn’t work, and I don’t even want to think about the things that would be said to that person, or the things that could be thrown at them! Anyway, enough rambling. Onto the assumptions.
1. “Influencers are always promoting products that they don’t use. They will promote anything for money.”
For me, and I think the MAJORITY of influencers out there, this is very untrue. I certainly won’t promote anything for money. I’ve turned down multiple collaborations because their product isn’t cruelty free, their product comes in single use plastic, or the product just isn’t right for my audience. I have certain core values which I just will not break. Most influencers have worked bloody hard to build up their audience, and they wouldn’t want to compromise the trust that they have with their followers that has taken years to build. I could be a whole lot richer if I worked with every single brand that asked to collaborate with me, trust me, but there’s things that are much more important than money.
2. “Being an Influencer is so much easier than having a 9–5 job.”
This one irritates me the most. For me, it’s really silly to compare the two because they are so different. Why does it have to be a competition? Why can’t we just all agree that we all work SUPER HARD and support each other no matter what our jobs are? I don’t think working as an influencer is harder than a 9–5 job, I think both are hard for different reasons. I think with this assumption it’s that people don’t know how hard the job actually is. (Again, I’m not saying that being an influencer is harder than a 9–5) All your followers see is the finished product posted on Instagram, but what you don’t see is the behind-the-scenes of that one photo. It’s hours and hours of shooting and editing. It’s hours and hours of sitting in front of my laptop in Lightroom, or writing blog posts, or writing short stories. It’s getting eye strain from being in front of the computer for 10 or more hours a day. It’s planning that never ends. It’s a lot, and it IS hard. But I’d never say it’s harder than a 9–5 job. Let’s all stop playing ‘my dick is bigger than your dick’ and just say we all work hard shall we?
3. “Influencers Just Promote Mindless Consumerism and Don’t Talk About Any Important Matters”
This one is true and false. I’ve followed plenty of people in my time who don’t talk about anything other than the clothes they wear and what skin products they use (which, the majority of the time, come in plastic) but I also follow a hell of a lot of influencers who talk about how bad single use plastic is, the impact that us humans are having on the environment, how damaging fast fashion is, and social justice issues. But you really have to know where to look. I, for one, talk about how we can be kinder to the environment a lot and how I can be more sustainable because I’m very aware that my job is actually me promoting consumerism. I agree, that influencers need to talk about the impact we have on the environment and important social issues. I share your frustration when I see people not talking about things that should matter to them. But at the end of the day, I can’t tell people what to do and what people should be talking about. They need to figure it out on their own.
4. “Influencers have an obligation to share the negative aspects of their lives.”
I really am in two minds about this one. No one on the internet, whether they’re an influencer or not, have an obligation to do anything. It’s up to them to decide what parts of their lives they want to share and parts they don’t. Everyone is entitled to a private life, no matter how many followers they have. I think this assumption also massively depends on what your definition of ‘negative aspects’ is. Like, what is your line? I always talk about days when I’m not feeling too good or I’m feeling like I’m in a bit of a rut, does that come under sharing ‘negative aspects’? Or is that not enough? There’s parts of my life that I choose not to share online, and I have every right to do so.
5. “Influencers live fake lives.”
For me, this is false. I barely have time to keep up with my own life, why the hell would I want to keep up with a fake one too!? In a sense, I can see where these people are coming from. I’ve seen photos that people have doctored to make the view in the background different and to put things in the shot that isn’t there. However, they have also clearly stated how they have changed this photo from real life, so to me, as long as it’s stated clearly that the photo has been changed, I don’t see much of a problem. Other than that, I don’t really know what a ‘fake life’ means. I still go to all of the locations I shoot at and enjoy them before I take photos. I still wear all of the clothes I wear on Instagram regularly and I’m always upfront. I’ve never once been fake.
6. “Influencers are shallow.”
I really thing that this depends on the person. I like to think that I’m not a shallow person. I call out injustices when I see them and do my best to talk about deeper and more meaningful topics online. I’m not denying that there are shallow people out there who aren’t anything more than their photos, but that’s their choice. It’s your choice whether you give them your attention or not.
7. “All they do is post photos. I could do that”
Yeah you could do that, but you don’t.
8. “They get everything for free”
Hahahah no. I occasionally get something gifted (and will clearly state this) but 95% of the stuff I have, I bought myself. That includes clothes, props, backdrops, tickets to travel etc. the only exception to this is books. I do get gifted a lot of books, but I make sure I only say ‘yes’ to ones that I’m actually interested in reading.
9. “Influencing isn’t a real job.”
Come on, it’s 2019 for God’s sake! I think it’s very closed minded to think a job is just 9–5 office jobs. If it makes you money, then it’s a job. End of discussion.
10. “Influencers don’t care about their followers”
Also very untrue. I’m so so grateful to everyone who follows me. To be honest, I can’t believe nearly 60k people think I’m interesting enough to follow! I’m so thankful that they allow me to do what I do, to stand by me when I change direction, and are some of the most helpful and kindest people I know. I’m lucky enough to call some of them my friends. It’s a crazy life that I’m on, and I know it’s not going to be around forever but I’m sure as hell going to make the most of it while I’m here.
(You can find my Instagram account here)