In the rapid-fire internet age that we live in, virality is much easier to come by, but much shorter-lived. This apparent accessibility and the luxury associated with it has become idealized in the eyes of the average consumer. The catch? Influencer culture is a scam, albeit a very pretty one. The most popular product sold by influencers is their lifestyle of luxury, wealth and success, but more importantly is how viewers can achieve the same. The problem with the seeming democratization of fame is that now anyone completely unqualified can speak on it and charge for their time. The hefty price tags that they require for their knowledge are predatory and often reveal a complete lack of value. The ideas that they peddle are often lacking in any substance and idealize a “hustle culture” that only serves to break down their customers mentally and physically. These influencers may live on familiarity, but they are not your friend. The scheme that is influencer culture is a danger to all young adults, and it’s an important reminder to not always trust what’s on the other side of the screen.
We live in a culture that glorifies productivity. Whether or not that productivity is real and substantive is another question, but overall it is seen as a good thing and feels good to always be doing something. However, too often we get caught up in fake productivity wherein we are acting simply to act, consuming information simply to consume, without any thought, structure or planning. This is the basis of the empty hustle culture that online influencers peddle. It feels good and it is promised to us by an image of a person who is successful and typically consumers trust.
The consequences of this type of working culture are all too dire and consistently demonstrated in Americans today. We live in a world of burnout and stress related to work, wherein the mental drain of our work drags over into every other facet of life. Yet, the demand to do more and push harder is still present in society, even though this trend is even worse for young workers. So as these influencers urge people to do more and work harder than before, it only serves to further damage the mental health of individuals who listen to them and the overall work culture in America.
The problem is that the message they produce is so in line with American cultural values that it is hard to deny. It is the American Dream to work hard and take your success into your own hands, but it is not so much the American reality anymore. It is this economic state of insecurity that is being preyed upon, to a generation that is increasingly perfectionistic and highly values success. Viewers often don’t see what it actually takes to become an influencer. Hustle culture is a legitimizing myth, glorifying and justifying the success of the people on screen. The problem is that often what we see is actually not the reality of the lives these people lead, and often does not fully reveal the socio-economic conditions that contributed to their fame. The context that is not revealed to the viewer is often the most important. An understanding that certain societal positions cannot be achievable without extreme luck or circumstance is key to not falling for the image put forth by internet personalities.
We all want to believe what seems nice and pretty. It would be a great world if there were some course someone could buy to achieve financial independence, be their own boss and live freely. The thing is that the answers to the societal problems that create these insecurities are not going to be found in some TikToker’s bio. These people are not out to help you, they are only going to make your life worse by taking your money and leading you on a path to a complete breakdown. So, as every parent has said at one point, don’t trust everything you see on the internet.