Opposing viewpoints: Has influencer culture gone too far?

Managing Editor Alexia Green and Opinions Editor Charlotte Hutchinson debate the impact influencers have on consumers
Opposing viewpoints: Has influencer culture gone too far?
Influencers pose a threat to consumers

We have all come across the “get ready with me using only products from XYZ brand” or “PR Haul” videos on our TikTok For You pages. Grown adults are making a living talking to a video camera. If you ask me, I think “influencers” have gone too far!

I find that people forget that a lot of the ads or brand partnerships are paid deals. These people are being given money to make videos and rave about certain products. It’s a modern marketing tactic that brands are using to push their product out to more people. The short videos promoting a new jacket or another lip product are over-hyping the items to consumers. Many times I sit on the other side of my phone screen wondering what they are paid to say versus their real opinion.

I think of the many people who watch these promotional videos thinking, “I have been looking for a new water bottle”, just to find out the influencer was forced to say that it kept water cold all day or that it didn’t leak. Now they are out $30 and have a water bottle that doesn’t even keep anything cold. It is unfortunate that we, as consumers, are forced to rely on unreliable sources of advertisement to find things we really need.

Consumerism is on an uptick and will likely continue on this trend. With this we should be questioning the integrity of the advertisement that we are consuming. I’ve heard many people say they were “influenced” by an influencer and it turns out the whole video makes this one product seem “to die for” when in reality it is overpriced and overhyped. There is also a high level of popularity for some products that make them impossible to find. I think we all remember the recent viral Valentines day Stanley cup that was released in Target stores a few weeks ago. People were waiting from 4 or 5 a.m. for stores to open. This product is the prime example of over hypeness from influencers. It was almost as if the product was a right of passage for people.

Additionally, influencers are paid to show an unrealistic side of their lives. Brands have arranged extravagant trips for these content creators where they get tons of free products and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This is the part of influencing that goes way too far. If a brand is looking to appeal to everyone why are they having their ambassadors sit on a yacht wearing their clothing? Everyone knows social media is fake, and I agree it is naive to think everyone is showing their reality all the time. I am just confused why brands take it to the extreme to show off their products. It doesn’t make me any more enticed to buy from a company because they took people to Bora Bora or Dubai. Not only is this unrealistic to children who may grow up thinking lavish items are normal for everyone to have, but this creates a false comparison for people the same age as most influencers who are living paycheck to paycheck and working every day for 8+ hours.

I guess if you want to live the perfect life, start posting your life on social media. But if that isn’t an option, always remember dupes exist and are just as good!

Consumers are responsibles for purchases

While trends and fast fashion have been a part of our vocabulary for a while, social media has seemingly sped up the turnover process of these fads we see so often. Now, every few weeks, it seems that a new skincare or makeup item is a must have, a new piece of clothing is being remade on fast fashion websites, and a new influencer has the spotlight on them. However, the question is: are these trends the influencers fault, or the consumers?

In my opinion, the influencers are not at fault whenever people start listening to what they say. In this age of technology, people are constantly being bombarded with different opinions. Whether it is on TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram, someone everywhere is trying to sell something, to either promote their own opinion, story, or to gain financial growth. In a world of constant advertising, people need to learn how to think for themselves when it comes to the items they purchase.

And while it is true that consumer culture has seen a major uptick in these past few years and this uptick is largely due to different influencers and brands promoting and advertising goods, we all have to understand that advertising has always been about getting people to consume more. Brands have figured out influencers are an effective method of getting their product into consumers hands, and both they and the influencer benefit from this transaction.

This effective advertising strategy, however, is not the enemy. At the end of the day, it is still the consumer’s decision to consume yet another thing. While I also see the downside of this mass overconsumption that many people are contributing too, especially for environmental reasons, I don’t think the culture of overconsumption and overuse will come to a stop, or even slow down, if influencers simply stop posting their opinion or stop endorsing items.

In my opinion, the trends that people run through are because of the short turnover rate social media has created by shortening our attention spans. And, if we look closely, we will see that a large amount of people who are part of the overconsumption class are people under 13 that aren’t even allowed to be on social media. While we all know that children exist on these platforms and can be heavily influenced in what they see online, it is not an influencer’s responsibility to censor their content and potentially make less money in order to protect an unmonitored kid. This is because overconsumption isn’t the influencers’ fault, but is just an outcome of the culture we have all created on social media.

At the end of the day, I don’t think influencers should have to take responsibility for society’s actions. Instead, society should understand that everything they see on social media grabs their attention because it is an advertising strategy, not because their life will be exponentially worse if they don’t obtain whatever someone is selling. We need to all realize that we have control over our actions and purchases, and we cannot use influencers who are just trying to make money, as scapegoats.

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