Tag Archives: Instagram

‘Social media influencers’ …is it time for a new wave?

So, not too long ago, I discovered the term ‘social media influencers’…I had been aware of the work of such people, but wasn’t as yet ‘au fait’ with the terminology.

As mentioned in a previous post, my generation was the last generation to grow up with technology such as the Internet, but also be able to remember a time when it wasn’t a thing in mainstream society. I see myself as very fortunate in this regard, for the perspective it gives me and others – we are kind of caught between the old and the new….although that isn’t necessarily a matter of age or life stage so much as being able to interact with changing developments, while being able to analyse the potential effects of them in a wider sense as well. Those of an ‘older generation’ may find it hard to engage with technological and societal changes and may have no idea what their children and grand children are talking about when it comes to new opportunities that they see for themselves. They may not consider a ‘proper job’ to be anything less than something you have trained for professionally or academically for a number of years, gained a qualification in and can thereby contribute to society in a 9 to 5 world. This could include being skilled through an apprenticeship, ‘on the job’ training and such like, but to them a ‘real job’ has nothing to do with social media. Let me clarify, that with regards to this perspective, I have a ‘real job’ and have never earned an income from social media, and I don’t earn a penny from anything I write on this blog, although I see the potential in exploring avenues elsewhere for my photography that might free up a bit of extra time so that I have more flexibility with the types and ways I work. I love my job, but it is more analytical and I do write a lot as part of my role, but it is business writing. That is only one part of me, and I therefore find outlets from my creative side which is a huge part of who I am through writing my novel, writing my blog, photography projects, arts, crafts, adult colouring, music, (easy) jewellery / bead making and other similar projects on the side, all of which I do as hobbies. 

The generation coming after me is unlikely to remember what it was like to not have social media and technology as a central part of their lives. People now joke that babies come out of the womb knowing how to use a smart phone! It may sound ridiculous but by the time a child is a toddler, they may be more efficient at using social media than their grandparents! The ‘GenZ’ generation as it has come to be known as, unlike the ‘Millenial’ generation to which I was born into in terms of time frame, not necessarily values overall, is exposed from day 1 as it were to a world where technology is most of what they know. As such, many younger people see their lives and their future opportunities as coming from online ventures. And many are making money – A LOT of money from the myriad of opportunities available to them online. There are bloggers, and some of you – older and younger – may be part of the community that does manage to make an income from your online blogs, and I’d be very interested to hear about your experiences and journey if you’d like – there are ‘YouTubers’ and Instagrammers and a whole host of other people using a myriad of platforms to make a name for themselves, their brand, or their message. 

Advertisers and big businesses have seized upon this potential and ‘social media influencers’ – those, particularly young people, who have a significant ‘following’ are prime investments as it were for companies to draw in more customers. Influencers may be setting new trends and those who follow and look up to them will want to emulate them. 

In my experience, and correct me if I’m wrong, social media influencers tend to be particularly dominant in the fields of beauty, make up, fashion, gaming, health and fitness, diet, food, wellness, and in providing opinions on merchandise of various sorts. Maybe even travel, but I find that probably beauty and fashion and lifestyle are more predominantly represented – what are your thoughts? 

The potential to influence others is massive…incredible really. This can be reflected partially in the hefty figures that represent their takings from 4, 5 and even 6 figure sums. Influencers shape trends, and reach sometimes millions of ‘viewers’. Yet, are they using their platforms effectively for what can really influence the generations to come? 

Fashion and beauty trends come and go. Products, likewise gain and lose popularity over time. So while for a short time this influence has an impact on their audience, and their pockets and their own lifestyles, which I don’t have a problem with, does not influence also bring with it responsibility? I have seldom seen young people who are prominent in social media, in terms of being influencers, using their platforms for issues of humanitarian concerns and social justice. Yet, what a platform they have! Occasionally, I have seen people reflect upon a tragedy or situation in world events, but very rarely and usually as part of a ‘trend’ so that they are also seen to be involved. I haven’t been exposed to much of what seems to be part and parcel of their central work or message. And that’s a real shame and a wasted opportunity. I have seen ‘Youtubers’ who are in this ‘mid-generation’ using their voice to raise awareness of social issues and personal struggles, not in a self indulgent way but as advocates for change. I am a bit of an ‘oldie’ when it comes to changing trends, so please do educate me if I have got this all wrong. I know a lot of young people are very vocal about climate change and sustainable living but I don’t know if they are the ones with these massive platforms…?

But if what I have perceived is an accurate reflection of the times then surely there is a need for a ‘new wave’ of social media influencers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they should leave their passions for beauty and health and other such things, but to use their platforms to also advocate for change in terms of the myriad of problems facing society today: if you are a health vlogger, and talk a lot about diet and fitness, could you also use your platform to encourage individuals and industries to care for the homeless and those without food, similarly could fashion influencers reach out to those who have nothing to wear, literally, not figuratively? Could those who speak about home and lifestyle and living their ‘best life’ raise awareness or use their connections with followers and businesses to improve the welfare of the most hurt, marginalised and distressed children in society? And what can we do, even those of us who have a limited sphere of influence like myself, and who have no connections with industries, and who receive no payment for what we do online, can we also use what voice we do have for the benefit of humanity and not merely the outward and fleeting trends that are popular for a moment and then gone the next? 

As always, I love to hear your thoughts…. xx

men s black and white striped polo shirt
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Healing: It’s ok to take your time…

When was the last time you suffered from ‘FOMO’ (you know, that 21st Century phenomenon that is the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’)? 

While this anxiety, and by that I don’t mean envy, may be harnessed in a way that one might use pre-exam nerves to motivate them to take action or do better, can be harnessed to compel one to take positive steps in life, to make the most of things, it can also be used as a rod to beat one’s own back. 

You see, in the path to healing, whether that is physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual or all of the above, we might find ourselves in places that we really don’t want to be. The place may be physical or subjective. For example, on the pathway of healing, one might be in a hospital bed, or a mental prison. The confines can come in a variety of forms, and their impact upon us has a lot to do with how we react to our situations. 

In a world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, to name a few online spaces, we often see lives that seem worlds apart from our own. When we see a constant stream of happy, healthy images, of people seemingly living life to the full, surrounded by friends, family, apparent ‘success’, and ‘ticking all the boxes’ of lives great milestones – graduations, birthdays, engagements, weddings, baby showers, births, and the happy lives of those surrounded by love, life, travel, adventure, achievement, talent, good health….the list goes on…. you fill in the blank for what you struggle with seeing…. we can be left feeling deflated.  Perhaps especially if or when things aren’t quite going so smoothly for us. 

Now, I can’t promise you healing. I can’t say for certain how things will work out. But I can say that I have been imprisoned by many things, and I know The One Who Has set me free, and Who continues to heal and restore me. If you know The Lord Jesus, you know He Is Real, He Is Good, He Loves you and has a place for you. 

If you don’t yet know Him (and I pray that you will know His very specific love for you, some day) then you can still glean from His Wisdom. 

You are important. Your journey is important. If you’re like me, you have perhaps fought hard to survive certain storms in your life, pushed on, worked hard, done everything your little self could do, to find that while you have survived, you may still feel broken. And while you have endured long and fought hard to overcome repeated challenges and obstacles, somehow you find yourself surrounded by people who know little of this road, and whose terrain has been more of meadows than of jagged mountains. They seem to breeze through life, move through all the milestones smoothly, happily and at the expected time, they don’t seem to have to go through trial after trial, and although they have ups and downs like everyone in life, they don’t seem to be particularly tough and they have had plenty of ‘cushioning’ in their early lives and a good support system so that things that come their way don’t seem to phase them. Of course, we don’t know what we might find if we were to peel back the layers of these lives, but it is fair to say that some people do have a happier time of it than others.

So, what do yo do when you find yourself in a place of ‘FOMO’, of comparison, of anxiety, doubt and fear? Your future does not seem so secure, you don’t think you’ll ever experience the blessings that come so easily. Perhaps you feel defeated, disappointed, by the hospital bed, by the medication, by the nightmares, the divorce, the physical sickness, the trauma, the depression, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, loneliness….the list goes on and on. And as you think about these contrasts, the despair and worry begin to build. What will become of you? This wasn’t how it was meant to be.

First let me say, whether you realise it or not, you are *loved*, by a God Who created you, chose you, fashioned you, and Who can bring meaning from your sufferings – indeed The One True and Living God Who suffered anguish to save you – to bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. Eternal security, and security for this life, each and every day knowing that The Good Shepherd Is walking with you every step of the way. 

Like I said, even if you don’t know Him yet, even if you are angry at God, refuse to believe in Him, or are frustrated at why He seems to be so ‘unfair’ towards you, you are not alone in these feelings. In a broken world, our broken hearts struggle to believe that we are loved or cared for, or that our lives matter, because we each are special. 

First, I encourage you, regardless of your beliefs, if you are walking a path towards healing, to come away from those places of comparison for a while. Sometimes we want to run before we can walk. But today is important, and you matter. Focus on building up your own life and rather than wishing it was different, do something to make it so. The small things matter. Take time by yourself to rest awhile. Our bodies and minds are over run and overcharged, and we all need some ‘down time’ to recalibrate, and to get busy doing nothing. Perhaps you are limited in what you can do – perhaps you are confined indoors, but if you are not, open a window or wander outside and linger in the freshness of the air you are still blessed with to be able to breathe. Small steps are important. Can you put something healthy into your body, can you exercise even a little, just 5 minutes today, can you do something that will strengthen and nurture your soul? Can you colour, or read, or write, or journal, think, pray? Can you gaze at the clouds moving gently past, or linger over a hot cup of tea? Can you enjoy the laughter of a child? Can you pick up where you left off, and get even a little bit stronger today? Can you say something kind to yourself, and remember, whether you believe it yet or not, that you are loved?

My friend, if like me, you have come a long way, you may feel like despite all your effort you haven’t got far enough. But take time to realise how far you *have* come. It is ok to rest a while, if you can. It has taken everything to get here, and we want to run, but first we need to grow strong in our ability to walk through life…metaphorically speaking. 

It is ok to take your time. It is important not to compare, unless that comparison leads to gratitude and kinder, more compassionate hearts. You are not alone on this journey. We all live in a broken, fallen world, where a lot of things seem unfair. But we have been given a Hope. We have been given strength enough for today. Reach out….reach out to Him….Jesus…The Living God, Who Loves you….and if you can’t find it in yourself to do that yet….at least reach out and do something today that will strengthen you in your onward journey of a more whole and peaceful live. xx

photo of a pathway in a forest
Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

Are you Liked?

Social media has changed things. For those of us who are young(ish) adults, we may remember a time before the Internet (yes, younglings….there really was such a time! and no, I’m not old 🙂 ), the transition to when the Internet first came to be, and our first intrepid steps into this new world of knowledge at our fingertips. Yes, sometimes that knowledge would be a bit slow to load up on our computer screens, we had dial up modem connections and we also had a bit more patience. These were the days when our first instincts when presented with a school or university paper to write were still to go to the ‘LIBRARY’ (yes, the kind of library with books made of *actual* paper 😉 ) to do our research, and perhaps venture into the strange and novel ‘World Wide Web’ to supplement our findings.

Put in perspective of the length of human history, it is fair to say that the Internet is actually quite a new creation, and hasn’t actually been around for that long. And yet, nowadays, it seems like babies are weaned on the milk of electronic gadgets and gizmos that are rapidly changing and developing, and many school aged children, even very young children, cannot imagine a world, or their lives, without the Internet, and have never experienced such a world.

So although as adults, those of us who were growing up just as the strange language of this mysterious ‘Web’ began to enter our parlance, or who were already ‘fully fledged adults’ as it were, had passed through those fiery adolescent years of wondering if anyone liked us after all, we are still faced with this nervous desire to know whether we are ‘liked’ every time we connect to the web. Or at least, most of us are.

Social media has changed things. In many parts of the world it is absolutely and irreversibly the norm. We no longer see the Internet primarily as a tool to gain knowledge or to supplement education and learning, but as a multifaceted, ubiquitous, all things to all people, source of input, entertainment, news, gossip, stories, celebrities, fact, ‘fake news’, colours, noise, opinions, ideas, creations, inventions, innovations, trends, popularity contests and the seemingly endless list goes on and on and is daily reinvented.

Perhaps those of us who blog seek a quieter and more reflective online space, that the more fast paced social media tools that we may also use such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (and there my knowledge of such things ends 😉 ) would grant us.

But nonetheless, even the more reflective world of blogging shares the common feature of the ‘like’ facility.

How many of us log in to our Word Press accounts and immediately look at that little bell at the top right of the screen to see whether it has a little red or orange marker to indicate that someone has ‘liked’ or appreciated our content? You can be honest with yourself here.

It is a fascinating little ‘button’ that often makes me smile when I click on it, mainly because it makes me feel more connected to you. I realise that on the other side of this computer screen are real people, with fascinating stories, unique lives and thoughts, who have taken the time to acknowledge and appreciate mine. That is really something special, I think. And truly, the Internet can be a wonderful place, with some truly special people in it.

However, sometimes I wonder whether there is something about that ‘like button’ that triggers an instinct in ourselves to evaluate who we are, our value, and the value of what we have to say by how many ‘likes’ we receive. If we pour our heart and soul into writing something meaningful to us, and it is not noticeably acknowledged, does this in turn impact our self-esteem, even on a subconscious level?

Don’t get me wrong, I think ‘likes’ are wonderful. I genuinely like ‘likes’, and feel more connected with other people online because of them. However, if we find that our attention is unduly drawn towards whether something we have shared on our blogs has been liked or not, if we feel our heart sink if it hasn’t, and if we feel a glimmer of old feelings from childhood and teenage years when our likeability by our peers seemed to be a direct evaluation of our perceived worth, then perhaps it is time to take a step back.

I know that sinking feeling. And I know it has deeper roots than anything Internet related. As a child I was badly bullied for a few years, and I was worthless. I didn’t just feel worthless, but my existence was consumed by this rejection, the not measuring up, not being liked or being actively disliked, of being undesirable, outcast, rejected, neglected, unworthy, broken, hurting, isolated, ignored, overlooked, despised and alone. My broken heart and wounded mind is still being repaired and undergoing a process of transformation. No child, or adult for that matter, deserves to feel that way. And the more I think about it, the more I realise I feel passionately about encouraging other people, as well as myself, to know that although it is lovely, and a natural human desire, to be appreciated, our worth as individuals, as members of this community, and the worth of what we have to say and to share cannot be diminished by the lack of a ‘like’.

You *are* a star irrespective of whether anyone has pressed that star to like your post. You are unique, incredible and fascinating, with stories that no one but you can tell, and a world within a world of thoughts, imagination, hopes, dreams, fears and love. You can change things in everyday small quiet ways and even that in its own way is revolutionary. You are important because you are you. This is our humanity. And sometimes, as wonderful as the Internet is, the online world can rob us of that assurance. We are faced with numbers, targets, statistics, comparisons, and we are encouraged, especially by advertisers to never feel quite good enough – the next achievement, or makeover or purchase will add value to our damaged, inadequate selves.

And yet, despite our brokenness, our mistakes, our evaluations of self and others, we are infinite. And we are important. And even if we are not ‘liked’, we are created for a reason, and we are LOVED.