We’ve seen a paradigm shift in our media since the birth of the internet. Rather than simply being media consumers, billions have gained the ability to become media creators. This had positive effects. Anyone with a good idea could become an entertainer.
Once you get past the illusions of an egalitarian media paradise you’re left with a trillion hours of crap to sift through just to find ok entertainment. The proliferation of fake news and poorly written opinion that now passes for truth is seriously troubling… but that’s another post.
In entertainment, there are people who have learned how to effectively use the system and rise above the deluge of garbage. Some consistently create good work, share it through social media, generate ad revenue and can make a living. They’re in the minority. Still more create content that’s pure trash but catches the attention of millions. Pranks, destruction, violence, compilations of car crashes, etc.
The worst group of these people has been named “influencers.” These kids, usually late teens to early twenties, usually rich, vaguely good looking, and white, have no discernible talent, (which is probably why the idiotic term “influencer” was created…*) but through their complete absorption into social media, they manage to create a following, usually very young and impressionable.
The influencers’ sway, regardless of how stupid they are, has caught the attention of big corporations that make clothing, accessories, make-up, skateboards, cars, music, movies, television – anything these influencers might consume in their own lives. The corporations use the influencer to sell, giving the influencer free stuff to feature as naturally as possible in their videos to trick their sheep-like followers into thinking it’s somehow cool. It’s not a bad gig. Unless the influencer looses some of that influence…
The influencer ramps things up to gain more followers and maintain the ones they already have. Having zero talent makes this a big challenge and things can go sour pretty easily. Bad tempers grow because of the pressure to be “real” and in wrong states of mind, bad decisions flow like lava.
The saddest part of the infuencer’s life is the fact that there is usually zero thought or originality there. They are just first in line to be told what’s cool. And now they’re sandwiched in between the corporation and the customer. Meanwhile, real trend-setters – artists, musicians, thinkers, are being followed by corporate intelligence gatherers. Their fashion is what we’ll see the influencers wearing next year.
* In actuality, the term “influencer” has existed, according to dictionary.com since 1660-1670. The idea of influencer as we are using it originated in the 1940 study called The People’s Choice which was an analysis of a voter’s decision-making process.