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Influencer Culture: Blurring the Line Between Real Life and Appearances

Due to its global reach, people have turned to social media to jumpstart their careers and projects. From Youtube to TikTok, social media platforms have enabled creators to make a living off of producing online videos. But, how efficient is it economically? Can social media truly guarantee a livable wage?

The simple answer is yes…at least most of the time. Pewdiepie, a Swedish YouTuber who started his channel in 2006, makes from $415.8K to $6.7M a year, according to Social Blade. His livelihood is solely based on his social media presence. He has amassed over 24 billion views and holds a positive and overall healthy media appearance, despite a few unwanted controversies in the past.

Kylie Jenner is another example. She has made an entire beauty empire with the help of social media. This involved promotions worth thousands of dollars and sponsorships from companies willing to invest, mostly due to the allure of having the Kardashian-Jenner name attached to their product.

The presence of social media influencers has become second-nature in our daily lives. It also shows how just about anyone can make it on the internet. Kylie Jenner has a net worth of around $1 billion and a lot of that money is due to Instagram promotions and her cosmetic company. Social media truly helped propel her career and it helps small creators too.

But, who exactly sponsors these creators?

From SugarBearHair to Nike, companies continue to sponsor Instagram and Youtube creators on the daily. Are these brands even legit? SugarBearHair has been sponsoring women and men on the internet since 2016. They claim that their ‘hair-vitamins’ give you longer and stronger hair, and they have results to show it. However, take these ‘results’ with a grain of salt because most of these testimonials are given by paid sponsors. Many costumers report getting rashes and breakout patches all over their faces. Some even claim to lose more hair than when they first started taking the vitamin. 

Sadly, this is true for many companies that operate primarily through social media. Plenty of people have been scammed through good ‘reviews’ from sponsored creators, some even bringing physical harm to the consumer. Be careful with what you buy off social media and check to see which influences have been receiving continuous sponsorships from them. 

Not only do internet users worry about scams, but also who is on social media. While creators such as Jake Paul make plenty of money, does social media enable bad behavior?

Creators are enabled by large audiences to perform risky and potentially dangerous stunts. From climbing buildings to licking ice cream tubs, creators and clout-chasers have done it all. But what would make people do this? The money? Fame?

The answer would be their social media presence. Creators feel a need to constantly validate and comply with their fans. Whether it be because of the overdependence on the validation from others, or the fact that many have turned to social media as their livelihood. If a creator has a large following and consistent viewership, they will get bigger, better sponsorships with each passing milestone. The only problem is when viewers get bored with the same old content. This has forced creators to push their limits and do things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise. Many creators fall into the trap of creating ‘clickbait’ content or mimicking problematic internet trends for the sake of views. 

We as viewers and consumers of multimedia have a responsibility to promote good behavior. If we watch, share, and comment on videos that were purposefully made to get a reaction, we are only contributing to the problem. We must set a standard for the type of content that we will accept.

The Internet is a weird place. From fabricated marriages (e.g. Jake Paul and Tana Mongeau) to wholesome cats, there’s a place for everyone on the internet and that comes at a cost. So next time you’re scrolling through your Explore Page, think about the role (and inherent power) you have as a viewer.

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