Soapbox - Under the Influence

I have a secret to admit; and it’s a dirty one. I once bought something because of an Instagram ad.In retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised. The bloggers I follow on Instagram are the ultimate salespeople; you’d swear they’ve just won the lottery by the big, whitened smiles on their faces.  They dress stylishly, have perfect makeup and hair, and carry the ultimate companion: a flat white. No wonder I was sold. Yet, one phenomenon this year put into words what we had all been secretly thinking about these self-titled ‘Influencers’: Bloggers Unveiled.Should an episode of Reeling in the Years be created for 2018, there is no doubt that the social media storm that was ‘Bloggers Unveiled’ would secure a brief musical montage of its own. The account, which amassed just under 200k followers before it was shut down by its anonymous moderator, highlighted the photoshop, fake reviews, undisclosed sponsorship deals and outright fraudulent behaviour that was rife in the blogging community. Side by side photos would point out the wobbly skirting boards indicating that a photo had been altered. Plastic surgery and filters showed that the makeup products pushed by influencers might not be the life changing quick-fix I had been hoping for. Of course, I could just unfollow these bloggers. Cleanse them from my life like what the endorsed products claim to do to my skin. But then what would I do at my bus stop? Or when I’ve a spare minute in the queue for a chicken fillet roll? I used to read around 70 books a year when I was younger; but now three hundred pages back to back just seems like far too much commitment. I can’t help that the bite-size, easily digestible content they create is just so much more appealing to a gal-on-the-go like myself. And so what if I buy something off a sponsored post every now and again? It’s just my way of paying for the content that fills the empty parts of my day.Despite all my complaints, and all the industry’s faults, I just can’t shake my need to scroll endlessly when I’ve nothing better to do. I am totally under the influence.