We’ve all seen the style of post – the one where someone is standing arms spread wide on the edge of a mountain, while in the background is a spectacular sunset and a sweeping panoramic landscape. These high-impact photos gain large followings on social media, which leads advertisers to pay big money for product placement or promotion on the person’s account. This is how the social influencer is born.
Sounds like an ideal life? Being paid to use products, maybe travel the world, and all you need to do is snap a few photos while doing it? Maybe. But it’s not all good.
The downsides mainly fall on those that are the followers rather than the influencer themselves. The perfectly crafted shots with perfect hair, perfect clothes, and perfect pose lead us to compare ourselves to others, often negatively. If they can have the perfect life and look perfect, then why can’t we? These questions cause anxiety, self-esteem issues, and sometimes even cause depression. The fact is that even though there are more of us living more ordinary lives, those aren’t the ones we see.
It’s also important to note that these images are highly constructed. We may only get to see the person stood on the mountain against the sunset backdrop, but what we can’t see is that there’s a line of people stood just out of shot waiting for their turn to take an iconic photo in the same place. Or that that photo has had a filter applied to make the colours brighter. Or the half an hour of makeup application that came before the shot.
Having said that, social influencers do have some upsides. There are influencers who post natural shots promoting body positivity, and influencers who publish posts highlighting the dangers of toxic masculinity, and there other influencers who are dedicated to raising awareness around environmental issues.
Influencers who spread messages of positivity can be a huge force for good. The downside is that social influencers can also cause us to view ourselves negatively, so be careful who you follow on Instagram!