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DIAZ: Aspiring influencers should have passion

Column: In The Know With Abby

Though becoming an influencer may seem like an easy way to make money, influencers should have passion to promote the creation of genuine content. – Photo by Amanda Vick / Unsplash

Coming fresh off of spring break, some Rutgers students enjoyed the luxuries of going to Florida or Mexico. Others may have spent their week-long freedom from academics enjoying the simple beauties of New Jersey life or hustling and bustling at their jobs to make a little extra cash.

When people get to steal away for themselves, they often spend it in the great social media vortex. It has been really inspiring to see the rise of TikTok and the achievements of micro-influencers.

They have shown that creativity can persevere in a world where students think their futures are inevitably spiraling towards a gray 9 to 5, an endless cycle of punching in and out of work. 

Creating content on niche topics has become profitable, paving new avenues for a person's career and identity. This phenomenon is thrilling for the consumers on TikToks and those who might just be starting out on their influencer journey.

Society has witnessed TikTok influencers such as Alix Earle, known for her "Get Ready with Me" videos and Monet McMichael collaborate with powerful companies and go on sponsored trips, including Tarte's Dubai controversial influencer trip.

If there is one aspect of the influencer industry to be wary of, though, it is the superficial, shiny and golden presentation to the world that often hides what really is going on beneath the surface. For most people, being an influencer is a profession that brings just as many mental woes as others and can, unfortunately, encourage a loss of authenticity, passion and purpose.

First, it would be beneficial to clarify that influencers are here to stay. Post-pandemic, as more and more people solidified their online presence, approximately 50 million people around the world referred to themselves as influencers.

With that said, the market for creators has generated $104 billion and is expected to make trillions in years to come. These numbers show that influencers have garnered enough strength to catch the attention of corporations.

Furthermore, every company trying to attract more consumers by drafting influencers to advertise their products or services is attempting to make more profit. The players in this influencer industry are the influencers, the consumers, social media platforms and companies looking to capitalize on this.

Finally, some could equate the power of building a following to that of traditional networking. The number of influencer friends with which one can collaborate opens doors the same way alums and professors can help Rutgers students network.

But people should have clear intentions when they enter the social media space and try to make content creation their main source of income. They should have a passion for promoting on their platform, which will help push them through the hardships of the game. Without this, social media will shift from the novice influencer to an overall lack of identity and values.

There is no denying that it takes effort to build a following and figure out how algorithms work. Many people on TikTok or Instagram put in the groundwork of posting "at least 1-3 times per day, and the most successful TikTokers post 15-20 times per day," according to Forbes magazine.

For most, they can look back on their day and count all the genuine instances something made them laugh or the crazy experiences with the potential to go viral. All of that is organic, and it is hard to fathom how someone could really try to replicate everything the exact same way if a camera was present and recording.

Trying to manufacture those moments or be genuine and not awkward in the presence of a camera is difficult, and that is why those who actually pull it off are especially noteworthy.

Coincidentally, TikTok and social media overall are a breeding ground for "self-comparison." For creators, much of their time is dedicated to social media, and individuals are already fed up with how strong of a pull social media has on them.

As noted by Forbes, "the pressure to deliver is intense, and when you top that with bullying, harassment, discrimination, and having your content stolen, the threat of burnout is incredibly high."

One peculiar case shows a family who promoted very mommy-and-me-styled content. The parents featured their children on social media, and this content became their sole source of income. This puts immense pressure on the child and may contribute to the deterioration of their mental and estranged ties with their family.

A crucial takeaway is that there are minimal remedies to the negative aspects and consequences of social media's influence. In states like Washington, there are efforts to pass labor laws to protect child influencers and navigate parental relationships as well as financial rights.

Nonetheless, if someone has a passion such as acting, music, styling or something niche, it should be shared with the rest of the world. On the other hand, it is self-destructive to join the influencer space without a specific interest. New influencers need to establish a clear identity so that they do not lose themselves to the dangerous power of mob mentality and groupthink.

What could be even more detrimental for society is this career path as a shortcut to making fast money when they should be discovering their true talents and directing them elsewhere.

Aspiring creators should not be trying to mimic others in an attempt to keep up with the pressure of living in our modern-day world. They need a clear "why" before entering the social media space.

Abriana Diaz is a senior in the School of Arts in Sciences, majoring in political science and communications and minoring in critical intelligence. Her column, "In The Know With Abby," runs on alternate Mondays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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