Stepping Away From The 'Influencer Bubble'

It is an incontrovertible fact that social media is an integral part of most of our lives in 2018.

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A recent report by Creative Communications Agency Flint revealed that 83% of adults in the UK now use social media. Children are fast following the trend, despite the minimum age for using most major social media platforms being set at 13. A 2017 Ofcom report showed that 23% of 8-11 year olds have social media profiles, rising to 74% of 12-15 year olds.

Out of our ever-increasing social media habits has risen a new breed of users: influencers, halfway between “regular people” and celebrities. They can amass hundreds of thousands - even millions - of followers based on their personalities and the content they put out there, usually for free, for followers and fans to consume.

The number of influencers on social media is rising by the day. In fact using social media can sometimes feel like drowning under a deluge of posts by influencers who are almost all thinner, richer, more attractive, and better-travelled than you.

It can also feel like they’re being paid a whole lot of money to promote products we often don’t believe they even use themselves and reaping a huge amount of benefit for what seems like very little effort on their part.

Sometimes, sitting by yourself after a hefty Insta-scroll session or YouTube binge, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

No matter how much we know personally that most of these people work incredibly hard to maintain their brand and lifestyle, and of course that their lives are heavily edited and filtered, there’s a primal part of our brains that wants to be like them anyway. That’s why influencers… well, influence.

Besides, it feels like the entire world has jumped on the influencer bandwagon. Brands are paying millions of pounds to influencers and a survey of 13,000 children aged 7-11 earlier this year found that a career in “Social Media and Gaming” was ranked fourth most desired in the UK after being a sportsperson, teacher/lecturer, or a vet.

With all this in mind, you may be pleased to know is that it’s not just you feeling a bit fed up with influencers.

Research by Bazaarvoice has found that 55% of respondents think that influencer content is too materialistic, and 54% believe it outright misrepresents real life. Perhaps most importantly, a whopping 62% agree that influencer content is taking advantage of impressionable audiences.

That’s a lot of people pushing back against influencer content.

This is not a call to ditch influencers (unless you really want to of course!). Influencer-generated content can be incredibly entertaining and often really helpful, especially if you find, say, a fashion blogger who has a very similar sense of style to you, or perhaps a beauty blogger who suffers the same skin condition you do and can help you find the best products for you.

This is just to reassure you that you’re not the only one who gets a bit fed up sometimes. There’s no shame in occasionally feeling bitter about the perfect lives influencers seem to lead.

If you do start to feel down, remember the following:

Influencers’ incomes depend on them presenting the best versions of themselves at all times.

They’re probably not going to post a picture of themselves in tears after a horrendous day at work, chomping through an unhealthy meal, or half-passed out on their boyfriend as he feeds them chips, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to them like it happens to the rest of us.

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Only take what’s useful to you and leave the rest.

I’m highly unlikely to ever be able to afford the new Chloe bag a fashion vlogger just got her perfectly-manicured hands on, but to be honest even if I could I’m not sure that’s where I’d prioritise spending my money. That incredible hat this one vlogger picked up the other day, however…

Visit an area of social media that isn’t dominated by these kinds of accounts.

Try the #catspotting and #dogspotting tags on Instagram, or make yourself hungry by checking out Buzzfeed’s Tasty on Facebook.

Most of all, remember that there’s nothing wrong with getting sick of the constant stream of perfection and pressure on your feeds.

But if it’s really getting to you, why not try leaving social media behind for a while? You could go for a walk, pop out to grab a smoothie at a cafe without a wifi connection, or best of all head to your next City Girl Drinks or Coffee Meet-Up!

Written by Elisabeth Hewer Griffiths, who also writes over on www.elisabethhewer.com and can be found as @elisabethhewer on Twitter and @elisabeth.hewer on Instagram.

Girl Talk, LifeCity Girl