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The Impending Doom of Influencer Culture

Underneath the veil of human civilization lies the golden calf of each revolutionary era, bruised in hues of fame, trust, and borderline worship. Where kingdoms existed, royalty prevailed. When movies and music tumulted entertainment, celebrities emerged. And with an unfettered propelling of social media, influencers became all the rage.

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The growing vines stemming from social media was unpredictable to the experts, but organic to the public. The fame associated with content creation online was dependent on what viewers enjoyed, and how many videos one, as a wannabe internet personality, can constantly produce before being rendered ‘cringeworthy’. While conventional celebrities had to work mercilessly for their arts and talents to be revered of ‘celebrity status’, ordinary people received the opportunity to reach similar heights by undertaking the gruesome path of placing half the effort. Now, any creator could ‘rise and shine’ to the incessant ringing of their notifications declaring the successes of their video engagements; the bell of online popularity.

But the whirlwind shot of influencer victory did not precipitate overnight. It began with a brisk walk of curiosity and fun. The OG influencers were the Youtubers/Viners: the likes of Lilly Singh, Emma Chamberlain, Pewdiepie, Dolan Twins, and even Shawn Mendes. They posted videos online with the aim of comprehending the newfound concept of social media platforms where anyone can post anything they want. A beautiful masterpiece of unregulated socialization. The videos of the OG Youtubers/Viners had one commonality: they were humorous or relatable, or a concord of both. These content creators were authentic, and without a morsel of knowledge in navigating the anomalous behaviour of amassing fan followings in record-breaking days, they made the most of what they could.

Many of them turned to online content making to make a living, mostly by catering to niche interests. Soon, the YouTube search engines replaced Google search engines to find information on films, music, fashion & beauty, travel, or science. A new career path was set in stone for children to dream of pursuing: a YouTuber, a democratized road to fame. But that ridiculous sliver of interest in manifesting a YouTube career can only be found amongst older Gen Zs, who are very much now adulting into reality. Today’s younglings prefer to chase their dreams of ripening into a famed Tiktok influencer, wherein one has no expectations placed on showcasing an ounce of substance to earn millions of following. How else can one extrapolate the rise of Bella Poarch, Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and Khaby? It seemed as though with every passing generation, the criteria of fame diminished from exceptional all-rounder in arts to 10-second video generator.

Regardless, the videos of TikTok stars garnered millions of views in weeks, differing entirely from YouTube where it took months to attain similar statistics. Their unrivalled popularity caught the attention of many brands who seeked more eyes befalling their products. And lo and behold the unfolding of ‘influencer marketing’. Social media influencers possessed fame akin to celebrities, but their weight of merit and value in brand power were less than similar. So, companies found the immaculate opportunity to promote their products with endorsements from social media influencers who bring in similar engagements as celebrities, for half the price – quite the irony that despite speedrunning into fame, both are upheld at diverging bars. By collaborating with influencers, brands saved the financial costs of producing advertisements by simply paying their influencer ambassador to do all the toil. The influencers were the ambassador of the brand, who creates the video endorsements themselves, and use their social media platform to advertise the endorsements. With the impressionable fans’ unwavering trust for their favourite influencers, the brands receive glorious engagements. For the longest time, it worked! Viewers trusted makeup influencers in purchasing makeup products, fashion influencers on styling options and places to shop, and streamers on the latest video games to buy. It was an impeccable branch of PR & marketing for both the brands and influencers; to the extent of companies being formed with the sole purpose to promote influencer marketing, a whole perfectly curated videos buttressing a consumerist culture.

In a predictable twist of inevitable doom, the very presence of marketing within influencer culture is the wheel steering towards the precipice of its downfall. The competition amongst millions of wannabe influencers to garner the highest followings and likes to make a living is an exemplary pitch for a Black Mirror episode. Alas, it is our current reality. While YouTube influencers shaped our ‘interests’, TikTok influencers regulate unattainable lifestyles and purchases for the big bucks. This TikTok cash cow attracted more towards social media influencing, and by adhering to the traditional theory of economics 101, anyone could connect the dots to draw a picture of the money-oriented oversaturation of twinning influencers online engendering their juxtaposingly waning influence. Because if everyone is famous, no one is special enough to be famous.

With the rise of a culture vary of consumerism, the plethora of products overtly and proudly displayed by influencers display is cruelly contrasting, particularly as the stubborn refusal to make unnecessary purchases is from desperation, as inequalities exacerbate in a recessive economy brewing in a vermin concoction of skyrocketing inflation and cost of living seasoned with stagnant wages for overworked employees and a sprinkle of layoffs. All the while influencers earn thrice of an average salarymen for the quarter of work, and audaciously share the arduous troubles of their labour of unpacking 100s of free packages delivered by Dior or Prada in a million dollar mansion hosting a splendid collection of BMWs and Mercedes at the age of 21. In essence, social influencers today are unrelatable and spurious, and if they, who are expected to behave likes us ordinaires do not exhibit qualities people can sympathize with, why must they continue to exist? Particularly when we already have a class of rich exclusive individuals known for their phenomenally unshareable talents in sports and entertainment?

This is the circle of life of famous personalities. Be it kings or influencers, their dawn must come to an end.