Negative effects of social media Influencers -
Caste, Privilege, and Consumerism
As it was predicted in history, today, a very large section of society is always on their phones and a big credit for it goes to social media. The exact narrative of it might have transformed, as today, the users aren’t only on the consumption side but also contribute majorly to the content creation part. The year 2020 witnessed a massive rise in alternative platforms for entertainment, giving rise to what might continue to be the most lucrative career for a few years in the future: Being an Influencer.
When the Chinese app Tik Tok was banned in India in the year 2019, opportunities for various other businessmen or competitors to fill the space were created. Instagram’s reels, Youtube’s shorts, and many other short video apps have now inflated in the market, taking the concept of personal brand to its peak. Statistics tell In the year 2018, 81% of businesses used an influencer to increase their business. Also, According to the survey by Nielsen, 92% of customers trust an influencer more than any other form of advertisement. The numbers clearly state how massive the ‘influencer culture’ is. They have impacted our habits and lifestyle incredibly, both positively and negatively.
While this has created a new dimension for employment and is making our lives easier than before. But, the question of its impact or rather the direction of the ‘influence’ is still uncharted. Are they influencing only for good reasons? When contemplating the whole culture, we can find this has created a setting that is spreading positivity by disregarding the negativity or rather by promoting the idea of accepting the negatives as positives.
While most of the influencers do not believe in casteism and discrimination, there have been instances that state otherwise.
- Mocking certain languages, living-style, accents, and other important elements that give one community its original identity, may not be a big deal for many, but asking the person for whom this has been an uphill battle will give the right answers. It is not only derogatory but sometimes hateful and one can’t be sure how it gets processed.
- Ironically, the main skill sets of the influencers are the historical jobs of the lower caste( such as dancing, music, etc.), for which they were discriminated against and were declared untouchable and impure. Today, most of the influencers are opting for music and dance and doing it aesthetically with all their privileges pouring in on the screen, which people from marginalized communities probably can’t afford to have. And that is still fine, but when the same influencers label something done less aesthetically as cringe, we as consumers need to understand it rationally, and they as influencers must analyze the impact of it. The unavailability of the right resources is the consequence of what has happened in history: discrimination, and them approaching it as a lite joke might just be deepening the roots of it all.
- Influencer culture is somewhere also promoting living arbitrarily. It’s fine if one doesn’t want to address certain issues, but denying the whole existence of something ingrained is maybe too soon. Influencers from backward classes face criticism for merely putting out their opinions on casteism because the other side doesn’t want to touch the topic stating it doesn’t exist. The realities are completely opposite and they are not able to see its existence probably because they were not on the receiving end.
India is in the 21st century, our youth is progressive, following the idea of secularism and equality. The majority of caste-based discrimination does not exist in the young world; However, not acknowledging the talents and hard work of people from marginalized communities because of lack of perfect aesthetics is problematic. One must never forget the struggles of these communities are still on. So, while an influencer from the upper caste can sit and plan their next exotic vacation destination, there’s a whole group of people who are struggling to even find a proper home, and that is probably because of the bigotry and unfairness of the past due to casteism. In the name of fame, this influencer culture has created what could be referred to as a new casteism.
Now, most of these influencers are from well-to-do families, born with privileges, never faced money issues, and were raised with protection against the harsh realities of the world. With pocket-filled confidence, the best network of people, expensive clothes and cameras, and of course! the aesthetics of their perfect houses, when they express their views on social media to huge audiences from varied backgrounds, the influence might not be the best.
- Young people in their teens and early twenties contribute majorly to their audiences. Now, When a teenager of 16 years listen to “I went on a vacation to detoxify” stories, they can adapt the energy of restlessness in their lives as well, and the same kid who understood their reality a little while ago might now rebel against their struggling parent who are sweating day in and day out to even provide for the internet connectivity.
- The privileges of a certain class of people are being ignored by the masses in this influential culture. While always talking about positivity is fine, influencers need to understand that when they are trying to spread positivity in the chaos( such as the corona pandemic), just the fact that they are able to try is a privilege. And the choice of opting to protect one’s vibe is absolutely fine, But when a person is an influencer, a responsibility comes along with it.
The world is in the chase for inner peace because lives have become difficult, protecting one’s and everyone else’s aura is fine but this trend is rising boundlessly, clasping everyone in its clutches that even talking about real struggles is becoming uncool. When someone opens about the hardships of their lives they face gaslighting, ghosting, or are cornered.
Not just our beliefs, values, and actions, these influencers have drastically affected our consuming habits as well. With the everyday OOTD and “You all asked me where did I get it from..” a huge section of society is moving towards materialism, impulsive shopping habits, and creating room for unnecessary products.
- People have started to feel the urge to buy new clothes almost every day which is toxic. Judgment based on clothes, brands, and style has increased like never before because now everyone knows “How to identify the authenticity of a brand?”. The idea of materialism is rather careless considering the environmental damages and poverty rate we have in this country.
- While influencers bring product awareness, the fact that they are also encouraging overlooking what is needed and that the resources are limited is a considerably large issue. Space for consumption (“My essential 10 step night routine!”) where it wasn’t needed before, has been made which, as a result, makes people believe as if they aren’t living rightly, leading to consistent dissatisfaction.
- The effect of it is not only limited to outfits, our everyday consumption habits such as household goods, travel destinations, restaurants to visit, etc. are now getting influenced. Researches state that 49% of consumer decisions are influenced by social media influencers. People have started to believe just any random influencer without checking the factuality of the content provided or the knowledge or qualifications of the influencer. Believing the mere beliefs of influencers who are just people and can make mistakes is a mistake probably we’re making together.
Influencing as a whole is a booming field, employment for many, and an easy way to connect and grow together, but as I said before the direction of it all is uncharted, so what will be the result of it all? How will it affect the human race? Only time can tell.