An Uncomplicated Life Blog: A Response To The Blogger & Influencer Shaming On Instagram

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Response To The Blogger & Influencer Shaming On Instagram

Last week, bloggers and influencers where brought to the courthouse of public opinion on their "fake" photos and lifestyles, and how that fakeness effects people. This is my surprising response to that criticism


Ohhhh, the internet! Never a dull moment exists. Last week was particularly interesting, especially for people like me who earn a living on it via blogging/influencing. Admittedly, I was late to the conversation. The proverbial brush fire started Tuesday afternoon and I didn't find out about it until Wednesday morning. Isn't that what always happens when you decide to take a night off from something?! I put my phone down for 12 hours and almost missed it! There's two points I want to discuss about the criticism bloggers/influencers endured. One is agreeing with the general consensus of my blogging community; the other, challenges it to it's core. Here's my response to the blogger and influencer shaming that happened on Instagram last week.


First, let me update you on the deets if you either 1) weren't involved in it (good for you!) or 2) have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm not sure where it started, because who can ever be sure of where things start on the interwebs, but here's the gist: a massive wave of criticism towards bloggers and influencers hit. They were called out on how fake, edited, staged and perfected all their photos of their "real life" are. From fresh flowers in every shot, to perfectly styled kids, to sun kissed bodies in bikinis on a beach in Ibiza, Instagrammers were taken to church not only on how fake their represented life is, but how it negatively impacts their followers. People feel less than. People feel as if their lives are a mess. People feel poor, discouraged, and even suicidal because their lives don't, and even can't, live up the the lives bloggers and influencers represent on social media.

So that's the Cliff Notes on the situation. Here's my two part response:

First, bloggers and influencers are in no way liable for how something (especially a photo) impacts a person's psychological state. Of course, outside of posting illegal or disgusting content - I'm thinking child pornography, racist content, etc here - it's not the blogger/influencer's job to predict where their followers have deep seeded issues that make them feel inadequate and alter their content accordingly. That would be an impossible job! If a photo of a child's birthday party that has beautiful flowers, a perfect cake, a well dressed child and cute balloons that spell out their name makes a follower feel bad because they can't afford a similar party for their child, the follower needs to unfollow that blogger. I can tell you that those photos are for inspiration for others' parties; not to make anyone feel bad about anything. 

There's an old saying that goes something like, "Try to please everyone else, and you've displeased everyone." If influencers catered their content to what won't hurt their followers most delicate feelings, their own personal brands would be impossible to build. Furthermore, while on the topic of delicate feelings, Instagram is used to create and show beautiful photos. That is the nature of it's very existence. Bloggers and influencers are paid to post beautiful shots of their lives with a product or a service. We're not paid to post what we look like when we wake up after being up with a kid all night, messy house in the background (that's what Instagram Stories are for!) So can we all agree that posted photos are the "best of" our life moments and not a typical screenshot of the day? And we do that because it's our JOB? We are marketers and advertisers that use our own life as a backdrop. Yes, we clean up our homes before we take a photo. Yes, I comb my kids' hair before I get out the DSLR to get shot of them. That's not me trying to make someone feel bad about their own messy home or child's dirty face, that's what I'm paid to do.


I took this photo on a day I actually wore makeup. And a real, wired bra. I don't usually do those things, but a paid shot called for it. #keepingitreal

Second, I think this is a perfect opportunity for us as bloggers and influencers to reflect on what people are trying to say to us. It's really easy to hear criticism like that and just wave your hand and say, "nah, that's your own mental heath problem and not mine so good luck with that!" But if you do that you're missing important feedback from the people you NEED to be successful. So what can we learn from this harsh criticism?

- People want less perfection and more realness. Yes, beautiful photos are important. They're important for our own brands and to the brands we work with. But perhaps we're starting to become unrelatable. Relatabliltiy is why brands hire us to begin with, and if you lose that, you're digging your own grave as an influencer.

- It's time to tone down the materialism. I can't tell you how many bloggers I've stopped following because all they do is push their affiliate links. They don't properly disclose when a post is sponsored by a company. People even push affiliates on Instagram Stories now! It's just a vomit of "buy this, buy this, this is the sweater I'm wearing, buy it here, I've linked my nail polish too so swipe up!" It's exhausting. And it goes back to people wanting more realness - if all you do is push sales, I don't get access to your personality. And your personality is why I follow you in the first place.

- It's ok to not have overly styled photos; in fact, people want that. The comparison game isn't exclusive to just nonbloggers/influencers to bloggers. It happens between bloggers/influencers too. I look at some of the parties other moms throw and think, "Jeezus, how did you have time to throw all that together?!" I look at fellow "mom bloggers" who get to go on press trips to wineries or other pretty locations and think, "Who the hell is watching your kids?! Man I wish I had the help with my kids to do stuff like that." So this happens even within the industry. I just know that those bloggers are picking the highlights and the best photos to share their experiences with. 

A real life, live caption of a sponsored post with the product in actual use. My hunch is people want more of this, and less of the styled, white and bright perfection that's constantly posted. (Some of which is also on my account #fulldisclosure)

The Instagram backlash of 2018 contained some harsh criticism for bloggers and influencers. My response to it? Some of it was outrageously harsh. Bloggers and influencers can't be responsible for the happiness (or not) of their followers, and they need to realize their own agency to simply click "unfollow" if they start to feel down about what they see. On the other hand, it's important for influencers to take this feedback into consideration as they craft their content for the rest of 2018. I think a shift is coming. Followers are fed up with perfection. They're tired of materialism. Both of these have made bloggers and influencers unrelatable, and relatability is why we have these jobs to begin with. The smartest influencers, in my opinion, will consider this and adjust the way they share content moving forward.

19 comments:

  1. Amen. I too have unfollowed people when they are no longer real or of interest to me. I think today's society it way too quick to place blame instead of accepting where they are in life. Your realness is why I continue to follow you.

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  2. I think your second point is crucial for us as bloggers/influencers. We do need to pay attention to what our audience is saying.
    And totally agree with you that if someone’s IG makes you question your own life, it’s best to just unfollow them. And you know I’m with you on the materialism.

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  3. I agree that people seek simplicity and keeping it real to be able to connect with your audience is key!

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  4. I think you raise a good point about how bloggers want more realness and less perfection! Whenever I share a shot that I also tell a story behind or reveal what was really going on behind the scenes, people always respond to it more.
    -Austen
    http://www.keepcalmandchiffon.com/blog/1/28/nyc-neighborhood-guide-east-williamsburg

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  5. I agree that you choose who to follow/unfollow. Since I share a lot about my journey as a cancer survivor, I feel it's important for me to 'real' as much as possible, but I'm a naturally optimistic, energetic person so I've been accused of not being real when I truly am! It's a balance and you can't please everyone.

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  6. Girl...I couldn't agree more: Bloggers and influencers can't be responsible for the happiness (or not) of their followers. The backlash we have received in recent times is overwhelming as if we are responsible for someone's mental well being. While I do encourage more transparency, I don't think the blame is to be placed on a blogger.

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  7. Very well thought-out post, Paige; I'm glad you looped me in, too! I've been less active on social media than I ever have before, but I'm happy to have you to keep me posted. I agree with you that we're here to inspire followers and that for many people, this is their job - you don't buy magazines with sloppy looking recipes or cluttered homes - you buy magazines because they're pretty and inspiring. (At least I do!) But I agree that having a balance may be nice - however, a lot of people really do have clean homes, they do have their kids dressed nicer than I ever am, and that's okay too.

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  8. I definitely agree with this. I try to be a little more curated on my IG feed and a little more candid on Stories so that people can see the real and relatable side too.

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  9. OMG preach girl! Loved this post so much, and the parallel opinions. Definitely something to take in to consideration! xo, Brittany | www.theblistblog.com

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  10. Everything is so true. Instagram is filled with so much "perfection" that it's possible for us to think or feel like our lives are boring than theirs. I did a post on Social Media & Self Esteem and truely I am grateful that I don't feel alone here. | www.zyrakuma.com

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  11. Such a great post. I heard about the backlash after the fact as well... frankly, it's ridiculous. I totally agree with what you're saying. If someone feels less than because of an IG account they're following...they shouldn't follow them anymore. And agree with the flip... we have to make sure we're sharing the real as well as the curated and be more transparent about it all. Why would I post a photo of my house being a mess? I don't think there's anything wrong with curating your life on social media, as long as you're transparent about the fact that it's just that... curated.

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  12. So true!! I find myself more and more following accounts that aren't super staged and perfect looking

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  13. I couldn’t agree more. I missed this (thank god) but you make a good point - what we post, and how people react and respond and feel, that’s on them, not us. Nobody makes you feel anything but you. There’s nothing wrong with sponsored posts but I have to agree, I unfollow if too much seems staged and inauthentic. Sure a lot of photos are well thought out but if all someone does is hock wares abd I’ve lost sight of whose account I’m even following, to me it’s no longer my cup of tea. And there’s nothing wrong with that. :)

    I like a balance of staged versus real life stuff. What you see is what you get over here.

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  14. Oh wow! I missed all of this last week. I must have been napping under a rock. While I understand people wanting bloggers to be more "real" it's also about creating inspiring content and sharing beautiful ideas. I agree that as content creators we need feedback like this to make sure we're delivering more of what our readers really enjoy.

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  15. I agree with your points.
    I also know that there are some bloggers who started as "outfit only" bloggers and they have an audience that's looking only for that information (like deal bloggers, or something). However, I think it gets weird when those VERY niched bloggers start sharing their lives because then it just feels off. Does that make sense? I don't think I"m making sense. Haha

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  16. In any situation, nobody should be shamed for whatever they decide to do or post. I think social media as a whole has a problem with other's trying to live up to the perfectionism - business/blogger/influencer profiles or personal profiles, it doesn't matter. Most people try to post the best versions of themselves and it comes off that way.

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  17. I couldn't agree more with your response! I think it's so important that we are 'real' sometimes more than others, but can still create beautiful content at the same time!

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  18. I love this perspective. I also strive for a balance of both!!

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  19. These are really great points! And I agree with you! This is our job and we are paid to do it.

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