It’s Sunday morning, I’m lazing in bed deciding on whether or not I should get up and tackle the day or just roll over and look at Instagram for another 35 minutes.
It’s 2018, the world is my oyster, I’m young(ish), some may say not a total imbecile, able bodied and have a wealth of opportunity on the other side of my bedroom wall.
And yet, here I lay. Not knee deep in a gripping novel. Not penning a sonnet. No, skipping through video after video filmed by people I don’t know telling me to buy stuff I’ve got no interest in.
I’m being plugged everything from cleaning wipes for the hob to brow enhancing mascara. I’m being told where to eat, what to drink and where to stand in front of to take a photo, whilst not taking any of it, just looking at it through a screen. And a filtered one at that.
I fast forward advert breaks on the TV because I can, but yet I’m willingly giving up my Sunday mornings to be sold to by people I ‘follow’ because, I thought, I found them admirable, funny, inspired.
Instead, the posts that used to be about culture or art or real fashion or mental health or just life in general are now ad, after ad, after ad, after ad.
Influencers by name. Terrifying amount of influence by nature.
Suddenly your Sunday has become about feeling like you need to rush to Tesco to spend four hundred quid on chai seeds and life-altering oats to be in line with the sponsored smoothie bowls that fill your feed. You stand in front of the mirror for longer than you used to agonising if the jumper you’re going to put on should really be paired with a leopard print midi and a coloured boot, when in reality your Adidas leggings are peeping out the corner of your eye, dying to be enjoyed again. You look at what your day involves; cleaning your flat, seeing your Nan and having a lasagne in front of Making and Murderer and suddenly feel pangs of resentment that you’re not at the latest gallery opening, eating extravagantly decorated donuts in Dalston or sipping a pint on Columbia Road like everyone else who seems to be there having a ball (even though Columbia Road looks like a heaving, pollen fuelled corridor of hell and is about 400 miles from your house).
All because people that have a certain amount of followers, now have a certain amount of right to tell us what we should be doing, saying, thinking all the time. And it’s in our faces, on our phones and making us feel pretty shit about all the things we don’t have and the places we’re not at.
The question I have is; if these influencers are able to influence what’s in my wardrobe and making its way into my gob, is there a certain amount of responsibility to start to influence in a newer, better kind of a way?
Maybe don’t influence what kind of skirt I need to wear this week, influence the shit that matters.
If you’ve got 100,000 people watching your every move and listening to your every word, make it count. Start a conversation about the fact that it’s October, and until yesterday was boiling hot, and hey that’s not all that normal and hey it’s kind of partly our fault so hey, what we doing about it?
Don’t tell me how to tong my hair, tell me that whatever I do with it, it’s my mind, my opinions and what I have to say for myself that really counts.
Don’t influence me to buy 20 new logo t-shirts a month when our seas are drying up because of our addiction to ASOS. Influence me to care more about where my clothes and shoes and Instagram friendly unicorn laden bed linen is really coming from. Don’t show me all the new things you’ve got this week, which results in me feeling bad when I’m living in the real world and am having pay the gas bill this month and have to just settle with wearing last months t-shirts.
Whilst you’re showing me how to perfect my make up, tell the teenagers down my road that being in your own skin, without painting it is actually really fine too. Because if I see one more 14 year old agonising over another 14 selfies on the bus, before she goes to school this week, my heart might actually have a YouTube-tutorial style break.
Let’s influence people to take care of themselves. Let’s influence them to get outdoors, get some air, take a walk. Let’s influence them to travel the world and actually really ‘see’ it, not just livestream it and walk away having learnt nothing about the place they just stood.
With a great following comes a great responsibility to make a positive impact on the hoards of young minds watching your every move.
So, let’s influence being honest.
Tell real day to day stories. Tell your 1.1m followers about your shit day, or the fact that the bog got blocked, or the fact that you cried in the shower because you had a row with your boyfriend. Show us your spots, and the days when your jeans don’t do up, and the days that you were going to go the gym but you decided to have a pint and a pizza instead. Show us your sweat marks, and your old bra whose wire keeps popping out and the ignored text messages from the bloke you went on a date with last week and went home with because you thought you were going to marry him.
Tell them there’s a lot more to life than the latest contour brush. There’s a world out there that they can do something amazing with, if they put down their phones.
Tell the kids that are checking in to see what you’re up to every day, that life doesn’t come with a ‘Vivid’ filter.
And that sometimes it’s OK for everything not to be Instagram perfect.
This post was sponsored by an overwhelming sense of responsibility for the school girls on my bus that seem be living their teenage years, not sneaking out behind their parents backs to go to gigs, but who are staying at home developing mental health issues on Snapchat.