Who the hell are they and why do we need them?
Can you think for yourself? Or are you an abject idiot who requires help in all areas of your life?
Do you tremble when you're faced with such conundrums as “Should I go with boxers or briefs?” “Hills Brothers or fair-trade coffee?” “Kylie Jenner’s overpriced highlighter or Kim Kardashian’s?”
Are you one of those people to whom P.T. Barnum so famously said, “This way to the Egress?”
Do you need a bunch of phony “experts” who will try to sell you — much like the Orange Turd and his disinfectant comment — all manner of snake oils so they can pad their pockets?
These people are being paid by very large companies to endorse their products and services. They’re called “Influencers,” and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.
I don’t know if they’re being monetarily compensated, but it brings to mind the legion of phony reviews on Amazon. Those customers who gush over shite.
All of us need help at some point in our lives, but eliciting aid from say, a therapist, or a licensed cosmetician or a travel agent, or any manner of true and legit experts in their fields is vastly different than trusting some twit on YouTube who thinks that the road to fame and fortune is paved with schmucks who will buy virtually anything from virtually anybody.
And schmucks abound. Trust me on this. Just look around you.
One of these phonies writes here on Medium and apparently raked in a shit-ton of money. I saw the story in a Facebook post but couldn’t read it as I felt the vomit rising in my throat and I don’t want to puke all over my pristine Apple keyboard. (Unlike when I had an actual job and didn’t give a damn what trickled down on my keyboard. It was the company’s after all. Fuck ‘em.)
Her success, from what I can tell, has nothing to do with writing, mind you, and everything to do with gaining thousands of ass-sucking followers.
Now, there are those people who genuinely want to help others and, unless my bullshit detector is out of whack, that authenticity shines through. For example, my friend and fellow, Greg Prince.
He started a YouTube channel featuring fitness videos for the over-fifty set. Because at that point, everything goes south.
Your chin falls. Your ass falls. Even your earlobes fall.
The videos are silly and funny and actually helpful. Look at this guy: He’s buff!
I don’t believe Greg would call himself an influencer. Just a family man trying to help the rest of us schlubs get in shape.
Wait a minute: Maybe that makes me an influencer. Because in a sense, I’m endorsing Greg.
“Hey, Greg. Cough it up, dude!”
So what do influencers peddle? That’s easy. Everything from protein shakes to air-fryers to leotards that make even the saggiest ass look like the owner does a thousand “donkey kicks” a day.
The top influencers and I won’t name them because they already get plenty of undeserved attention, are making millions per year. Did you get that? Millions!
Think about that as your reviewing your pitiful stats here.
How and why are these folks striking it rich? From The University of Pennsylvania’s ScholarlyCommons:
Driving the rise of this phenomenon have been (1) individuals who want to be recognized as persuasive online (2) advertisers who increasingly direct their budgets to social media, where influencers’ “authentic,” personality-inflected content has proven potent for selling product (3) social media companies whose tools and rules both advance and encumber these activities and (4) marketing agencies and other marketing-related entities, such as talent agencies and trend forecasters, that build metrics platforms to measure influence, select influencers for advertising campaigns, negotiate deals between influencers and retail brands, and espouse the many benefits of expressing oneself “authentically” online in tandem with corporate sponsors.
Note the quotes around “authentically.” In other words, “authentic,” my ass. And we know that advertisers are legendary in their ass-holiness. They spend big bucks trying to sell us crap we neither need nor want. And I’m just as culpable. (“Hello, Amazon Prime!”)
But I can take only so much bullshit before I rebel.
From what I can tell, to be an influencer, you must be obsessed with yourself. The type of individual who has to document their every move, every meal, every fart, online.
Influencers fall into categories, like the following, courtesy of Sprout Social:
- Celebrities: Artists, athletes, and pop culture stars.
- Industry experts and thought leaders
- Micro-influencers: Individuals with an impact on social media
- Bloggers and content creators
Look at that last category. Does that mean we Medium writers can be considered as influencers? Have I influenced any of you, in any way? Please tell me so I can start raking in the bucks.
Let me make one thing clear before I bounce. This is not an age thing. I’m not shitting on Millenials or “younger people,” even though, according to Statista, the two largest age groups that influencers fall into are the 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 buckets.
No. It’s a bullshit thing. Like the crap that USED to come out of the White House. It’s the “splat” heard ‘round the world. And it stinks.
Who’s with me?
© Sherry McGuinn, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.