How easily are we influenced?
We, as a society have been inflicted with the problems of influencing since the Roman times, with gladiators being seen as the earliest form of now referred to ‘influencer’. Although this idea of the influencer has been drastically altered in the nearly two millennia since the fall of the Roman Empire, its aim and role in society has stayed somewhat the same. In the age of new technology and the vast abyss of social media, influencing has skyrocketed and has been fuelled by the want to make millions. From the creation of Facebook in 2004 and YouTube in 2005, society has been further influenced by the growing number of well-known people. This large influencer space has led to social media and society being run amok with sponsorships and paid advertising. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner can charge companies millions per post, this can be seen in the smaller but ever-evolving sphere of social media content creators and micro-influencers who make minute long videos supporting brands and products, enticing us as viewers to buy products that are not likely to give us any positive impacts.
This is where the idea of de-influencing comes in. The whole idea is to persuade the masses not to buy certain products or services that the creator believes are bad or overhyped; it touts itself as a sustainable alternative, an anti-hero to the fast-fashion trends that have swept up the recent decade. Many content creators have started to post videos which are conveyed as ‘honest’ and upfront opinions about popular social media products and services. This trend has taken the social media world by storm with #deinfluencing currently having over 990.2 million views on TikTok. This huge number definitively shows the gravitas of its impact on society and our inherent need to fit into the world we live in – using similar products, and services to truly ingratiate ourselves.
The question is though, is de-influencing really helping to benefit society or is it just another mass craze that has taken over social media? Many argue that de-influencing is not the opposite of influencing but a close relative to the old way of influencing, as it can be seen as influencing you in the opposite direction. De-influencing is also argued to have its negatives; de-influencing can be seen as another form of influencing, especially the inclusion of affiliate links to brands which still allows for the influence of individuals.
It is argued by the Social Shepherd that 61% of individuals would trust the product recommendation of a content creator – nearly two-thirds of society! This highlights society’s reliance on those around us and those on social media to tell us how to feel about certain products, swaying our own personal opinions. With the growing popularity and growth of the influencing space in the past few years and its projected growth soon, I believe that as a society we are unlikely to be released from the grips of the impacts of influencing (and de-influencing) as soon as we’d like.