I’ve seen a few posts recently which claim that “Influencers” sell a perfect life and this makes “normal” people feel bad in comparison. I understand that the reason for these posts is reminding people that what is shared online isn’t the whole story and that often only the best bits are shared. It can be true, but it seems unfair to blame Influencers. 

A stock photo from canva of someone taking a photograph of a seascape representing an influencer just sharing the good things in life
Do Influencers make people feel bad by just posting highlights?

Why Are Influencers Targeted With Negativity?

Influencers are often targeted with negativity. One of the reason is the perception that they get a load of stuff for free. Most don’t, most actually work hard to promote the products they are sent which takes skill and time, not to mention the time that they have put in to building an engaged audience. They can get ridiculed because of the minority who feel entitled to free stuff and demand it while others (and hopefully most) recognise it is a business arrangement and ensure that the arrangement is mutually beneficial so when they pitch they explain what they can offer. There have even been calls for Influencers to have to state when an image has been filtered or edited when there aren’t the same requirements for magazines, news outlets or the millions of other people on social media 

Should Influencers Be Blamed For People Feeling Bad?

I think to call out Influencers as the reason people feel inadequate is unfair. When we go on social media we generally choose what content we see. We can choose to follow Inspire accounts, you know the ones, they post pictures of amazing homes, they look amazing and are doing interesting things. Or we can choose to follow people who post a mix of content, who are authentic, honest and more well, normal. 

We are all (and by all I mean pretty much anyone who posts personal content online) guilty of posting highlights. If my partner captures a photo of me looking great then that will almost certainly appear on my Instagram grid, it might even make it to be a new profile picture. That’s not an Influencer thing, that’s a person thing. We also are more likely to mention when we have been somewhere interesting or if something exciting has happened than when we have sat at home and watched TV all day (although to be honest I think that sounds pretty amazing as long as it isn’t kids TV).

On the other hand, Influencers and people that spend more of their time online are more actively looking to create content. Influencers are more likely to pop onto their stories just to say “hi” because we know that if we don’t post we can disappear. Increasingly I think Influencers share more of a mix and are more honest about life than most other social media users. 

There is a cynical part of me that says they do this because they know it is good engagement, but I think it is more than that. We know that by sharing the down days, the hard times that it resonates with others, that it makes people feel that they aren’t alone and yes engagement is often great. I have seen a few celebs and Influencers post real, raw postpartum images of themselves in paper pants etc and get great praise for it. It takes courage to reveal that side of motherhood, but I think it would take more courage for someone to post that image if the had a small following comprising their family, work colleagues and a few old school friends than an influencer with 100k followers. It’s bound to do well and it’s easier to be honest in front of strangers than to people you know, especially if you are struggling.

I have seen more Influencers post about mental health, messy houses and bad hair days than non influencers. Yes it might be due to the people I follow and the algorithms, but I don’t think it’s just that. I struggle far more with all the humble brags of old school friends on Facebook who only post when they have had a night out, go on holiday or their child does something amazing, than Influencers who are posting about their lives day in, day out. Yes of course they are sharing the good bits, and yes I know a photo of me looking glamorous will get more likes, and reach more people, than me looking rough, but people who post every day share the rest of life too. So stop blaming Influencers for it all.