At school when you were younger, you would be required to talk about someone who inspired you. You would often say an Olympian, maybe a scientist, an actress or even a footballer.
New research from global affiliate network Awin shows that around one in five children aged 11-16 wanted to be a social media influencer when they grew up after 2000 parents were polled.
Nowadays the celebrities and elites we choose to engage and follow has changed the discourse of inspirational characters. Influencers and reality TV stars dominate our media intake whether active or passive engagement. As a result of their livelihood, it creates a much more in-depth access to the new generation of celebrities through phones, laptops, podcasts and televisions.
Their world is oversharing, connecting with their audience through authentic and detailed excerpts of their life. It’s a confusing and convoluted world to navigate, but more and more people are finding the right people to follow online that inspire them, uplift them and motivate them.
Not every piece of media or every person you get inspiration from has to be in the traditional form. The word inspirational and the idea of credibility have been changing for years now; it does not matter who you are inspired by or take comfort from. If they genuinely help you in any way shape or form their credentials and CV are not necessary. If their work online provides you with a safe space and content to enjoy, that is allowed.
A blanket stereotype hovers over influencers, that they are uneducated, lying and or scamming and do not work. A lot of this can fall into classism and regional discrimination. A key reason why so many look down on certain celebrities is because of the bias held by either their origins or stereotypes based on where they are from.
The likes of Geordie Shore and TOWIE revolutionised the reality TV scene which fed into the UK influencer stream. These highly edited and forced shows did nothing for the stereotypes of the young people there.
There is a reason to be concerned. There is an illusion that we know the people on our screens, we put our trust in them blindly without ever actually meeting them.
The recent scandal with Elle Darby shows this, where racist tweets resurfaced from a few years ago. Her cosy and personal content became tainted and many didn’t know how to feel. The danger becomes when you feel like you know these people – you trust them – it can be devastating when they betray your trust. Suddenly someone who was a comfort and gave you your favourite recipe or morning routine inspiration isn’t a safe space anymore. It can be incredibly difficult.
With the internet developing every single day the debate about influencers and their role in society is not going away any time soon. No one needs to give Molly Mae a Nobel Peace Prize for her Instagram stories, but the shift of it being acceptable to engage with whatever content you like online is a positive one.
Featured Image Credit: Canva