I feel sorry for influencers who are getting pummelled by abuse & death threats
KATE Wills is feeling sorry for under-fire social media stars who are being criticised for lounging by a pool in Dubai.
Here the Fab columnist and writer explains why.
There are many people who deserve our sympathy right now.
Exhausted NHS workers stretched to breaking point, homeschoolers who are one improper fraction away from running screaming into the street, former Love Island contestants lounging by a pool in Dubai…
OK, that last one might be a stretch. But I do feel a little sorry for the social media stars who are getting pummelled by abuse and death threats right now.
Even Home Secretary Priti Patel has waded in. “We see plenty of influencers on social media,” she said. “Showing off about which parts of the world they are in.”
Never mind the fact that most of them flew out before restrictions tightened, or that we are all technically still allowed to travel “for work”, for many people the idea that sipping cocktails on a beach counts as a job rings about as true as the classic influencer phrase: “A lot of people have asked me about my skincare regime…”
And yet to gain and maintain followers in these kinds of numbers does take effort – I’ve witnessed it first-hand.
When I worked as a travel journalist, influencers would often come on the same trips as me, so I’ve seen what they go through to generate “content”.
I’ve been on a spa weekend with a fitness blogger who documented every second, including filming on her phone inside the changing room and for the entirety of our treatments: “Hi, guys, so I’m here having my massage right now…”
Which was very, um, relaxing for me. And I was in the Maldives when I saw an influencer order not one but three “floating breakfasts” (for those who like their eggs to come on a tray that floats on the surface of the swimming pool) to be photographed by drone, and then not eat a single mouthful.
I’ve witnessed a well-known Italian fashion blogger take “candid” selfies which involved full hair and make-up, a stylist, a wind machine, a professional photographer and several lights and reflector boards.
So although it’s not exactly saving lives, who’s to say it’s not hard work in its own way?
It’s how these people – often young women – make their livelihoods.
Or used to anyway before lockdown slashed most of their sponsorship and endorsement deals. Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than defining my professional worth by my follower count – but it is a job.
It’s easy to hate on influencers “living their best life”, but for many of their fans back in Blighty they’re providing escapism.
And let’s face it, others have bent the rules a little under lockdown. I might not have “Done a Dom” (Cummings), but perhaps my “daily exercise” with a friend consisted of sitting on a park bench having a natter, rather than getting sweaty.
Maybe my “essential shop” was for three bags of Starmix and a bottle of prosecco. Considering it’s day 349562738 of this pandemic and things don’t seem to be easing off as much as we’d like, it’s no surprise we want to direct our rage somewhere.
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But rather than threatening to kill 20-somethings in swimwear striving to make a buck with a #spon, perhaps we should channel that fury at the government, and – up until the vaccine rollout – its slow and shambolic response to the virus.
There is no filter in the world that can gloss over that fact.
- Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.
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