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Life as an influencer can be harder than it looks

The promise of becoming famous AND rich by doing what you love to do is too much for most people to resist. Perhaps that's why so many young people are chasing the dream of becoming social media influencers. It looks so easy!

But looks can be deceiving as this 2021 NY Times article by Taylor Lorenz illustrates. In her article Lorenz does an admirable job teasing out the highs and lows, triumphs and tribulations of influencer life. And in the process she raises a crucial point: the influencers can help each other by talking thru their challenges.

Courtney Nwokedi, 23, a YouTube star in Los Angeles, said that seeing other creators discuss burnout and mental health has helped her process things. Credit...Michelle Groskopf for The New York Times

I recommend reading the full text of the article. But if you don't time for that here are a few quotes lifted from the article.

Here's what some influencers are saying about social media

“It almost feels like I’m getting a taste of celebrity, but it’s never consistent and as soon as you get it, it’s gone and you’re constantly trying to get it back,” said Lauren Stasyna, 22, a TikTok creator in Toronto. “It feels like I’m trying to capture this prize, but I don’t know what the prize even is.”

“This app used to be so fun,” a TikTok creator known as Sha Crow said in a video from February, “and now your favorite creator is depressed.” He went on to explain how his friends are struggling with mental health problems and the stresses of public life.

“There is a dark side to it,” said Jake Browne, 30, founder of the Go House, a content house in Los Angeles. “There’s all these investors and platforms, and they need creators to create content on a mass scale. It’s sort of, let’s get everyone to do it and we don’t care about them. The top 10 percent will make us money.

“I feel like I can become washed up any second by an algorithm,” he added.

“Eventually there will be too many influencers, the market will be too saturated,” Mr. Ostrovsky said

But problems with burnout in the creator community are endemic. “If you slow down, you might disappear,” the YouTuber Olga Kaytold Fast Company in 2014.

It's a balancing act

These comments illustrate the seamy underbelly of the influencer marketing game. Social media platforms offer a sirens call of fame and fortune, but as with Vegas casinos, some patrons win and some lose, but the house always wins. That's good to know in advance.

Some influencers may have happier tales to tell, but it seems clear that anyone that wants to be an influencer should go into it with eyes wide open. Building and maintaining online audiences is work. And while this work may have social and financial rewards, it can take a physical and psychological toll as well.

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