That’s A Wrap
I want to finish my short series of posts with a reflective piece. One to get you thinking.
I’ll start by sharing a conversation I had with a friend not too long ago, when she said to me:
‘OMG. I’ve got 499 likes on my photo.’
‘Wow. That’s loads.’ I replied.
‘Do you think you could log in on your work account and like the photo to make it 500 likes?’
Need I say much more?
To be an influencer, or not to be an influencer?
We are living in a world controlled by algorithms and likes. My friend is wanting to become an influencer, something Abidin (p.94, 2018) dubs as a ‘vocational, sustained, and highly branded social media’ star.
Abidin’s book Internet Celebrity outlines what influencers do. They effectively make money through advertising products, brands or services on their blogs or social media accounts. Influencers with a million followers can make up to £10,000 per sponsored post, which seems like a pretty good deal for just posting an Instagram photo. The money can be made easily, some might say, and this is why so many people are attracted to the idea of being an influencer.
Influencers ‘migrate’ between different social media platforms, depending on what App or platform is trending. So right now, Tik Tok has bred a whole new wave of influencers.
‘How many likes did you get?’
Gen Z are growing up in a world where their icons and role models are influencers. And the attraction to making lots of money for posting photos, jet-setting across the globe and receiving free products is appealing to most. But there is something deeper to the desire to be ‘liked’ on Instagram. This isn’t just a career move. This is to boost self esteem.
Research conducted into the power of likes shows that the effect of getting lots of likes on an Instagram photo for teenagers feels the same as winning money or eating chocolate (Sherman et al., 2016). Another study, conducted in 2018, reported that 21% of teenagers felt more confident from using social media.
Katanu Mbevi refers to social media statistics (likes, shares, comments) as a ‘social currency’, which makes us a product (see the YouTube video to the left).
This gives us a digital identity, arguably more important than our own personality and character.
So I want to leave you with something to think about.
Look up from your phone. Look at those around you; who matters? What matters? Do you really want to live in a world where we are judged and determined by our digital identity and ‘social currency’?
Abidin, C. (2018). Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online. Emerald.
Sherman, L. E., Payton, A. A., Hernandez, L. M., Greenfield, P. M., & Dapretto, M. (2016). The power of the like in adolescence: effects of peer influence on neural and behavioral responses to social media. Psychological science, 27(7), 1027–1035.