gatekeeping as the next step of deinfluencing
Okay, I'm regulated. I so appreciate everything about this piece & how you so kindly and openly share with us through your gift of writing. The constant asking 'where to buy' xyz while I'm just trying to HAVE A CONVERSATION (and usually, at least lately, that conversation is centered around my debt, low-buy, or simply something unrelated to purchasing anything at all). I feel you. Here's to more gatekeeping!
YOU NEVER MISS. NEVER! MISS!
I really appreciate this essay, it left me with a lot of good things to think about. I've asked where things were from without the intention of making a purchase and it's like why I would even ask?? but it can feel like a strong need "to know." I think the practice of withholding information in the way you've mentioned is kind and will allow people to be more honest with themselves 💗
Yesss. I remember in the early days of running my business I had people asking all the time for links. And it was my literal job that I got paid for--I worked so hard on the (interior) design for my clients and it was special, uniquely tailored to them. I wanted my clients to feel like the work they paid me for was for them, not my Instagram followers! And because I had worked SO hard on coming up with those designs and nailing down that unique sconce or flooring that I hadn’t seen used anywhere else, it didn’t feel good when IG followers demanded that I give them hours of hard work for free. Later, I also explored this idea of how women are expected to give free labor all the time in any industry, just the same as we are expected to do in the home (i.e., caregiving, housekeeping). Not only did I work for free often in those early days (even for my clients, ugh) but there was this expectation that I work for my followers too--and I wasn’t even an influencer! I was a woman running a design and renovation company. When I withheld info, people were pretty mean about it sometimes--and that was the kicker for me. They didn’t care about the work I was doing or who I was. My time wasn’t valuable. I felt used, all the time. Thanks for writing this!
Yes yes yes! I agree so hard with all of this. I think there is also an issue where creators are intending to share *inspiration* with their home/food/wardrobe... and a necessary component of inspiration-based "influencing" is that followers are required to have an imagination and fold that inspiration into their own lives in a way that makes sense for them. But instead so many people just (often rudely) demand to know what all these exact products are. It's a really mindless and uncreative way of consuming content.
Truth after truth. I can’t think of a thing to add. This is just so darn good. I think you’re right and a lot of it does come down to internet etiquette, which needs a major renovation. Or it needs to be created? 🤔 Did we ever even have an internet etiquette?
this is maybe complicating/adding to the consumerism pile (and a messy, unorganized thought - I'm sorry!), but, sometimes what helps me curb me when I want to buy something is to look at my closet and find something similar and see how I can morph it into what I want. Ie: I wanted an embroidered jacket, I know how to embroider many things, I went and learned more about the specific embroidery to accomplish the thing.
I know there's so many other nuances in terms of accessibility, skill acquisition, time, illness, ability, etc. But how I've chosen to participate in this is to look at my clothes as art projects and to look at my friends' talents and ask for help when I want to change something, to offer my skills when and where they are needed as well. I have a friend that helps me dye clothes that I've stained with coffee or when I don't like the color. In exchange, I mend the thighs of pants, I mend torn elbows and shoulders, I sew pockets into dresses. Our community-based skills can be enhanced by folks like Sam, who show us creative things and help us engage with our closets, our homes, in creative ways. I'm grateful for your page, your outfits, for teaching me to go a little outside my box, to reach for the skills I have to create something beautiful.
Perhaps someone else has mentioned this, but if someone is desperate to find something right then, right there, they could always take a screenshot and try Google Lens before asking. That being said, I really think what you have said about slowing down and thinking about our purchases is clutch. I have a "wanted it, but didn't buy it" note on my phone for when I get that MUST HAVE feeling. Does it avoid all impulse buys? No, but honestly it really has reduced them 9 times out of 10 and 80% of the time I come back later and think "lol why did I want this?" and for the other 20% I either decide to save for it or at least make sure I purchase it from a small business (or just not Amazon) if possible.
So many great questions and thoughts in this piece! My favorite comment from watchers when someone doesn't post a link to the product or where they got it - "don't you hate when people post things and don't tell you where they got it or found it?" I just want to say, listen buddy that's not their job to provide you with any information. Rudeness abounds on the internet.
okay, YES YES YES to all of this.
I used to be that person who always asked where something was from. and as I've been really working on healing -- which includes focusing on authenticity, figuring out who the fuck I am, deconstructing the way capitalism shows up in my life, and working on a shopping addiction -- I've had to catch myself SO many times. because the truth of the matter is, having a really cool thing that a cool person on the internet has isn't going to "fix" me or bring me happiness. I can admire things from afar and work on finding my own ways to fulfill myself.
grateful to you putting these thoughts I've been having into words. your voice is so needed and appreciated around this topic!
I think being kind and remembering influencers are actual people with lives and feelings, etc. is sooo important. AND I feel the tension with the fact that many influencers have made their "brand" specifically about what they're wearing or how they decorate their home. So, it feels kinda like, well, if someone is say, a climate scientist and always posting about their publications, upcoming conferences, hot takes on current news, etc. and folks were like, "LINK to your shirt, please" that would be weird! But, for folks who have made their brand/influencer identity through their wardrobe/home/style, it feels like, "Of course people want to know because that's kind of the main reason they follow that particular influencers is for clothing/home inspo" and sadly, many folks really are just trying to recreate what they're seeing (for better or worse). All in all, I agree that it should be a request (which means it is accepted that the request may not be acted on) with kindness, but I honestly get why people do it. Especially if influencers that have built their success off of their wardrobe/home décor and are making a full-time wage on it, it seems more appropriate that folks ask. That's maybe a little out of line with the spirit of the article but that's my hot take on the matter! I like Marielle's approach, she put in the labor of linking everything and you pay to see it. For a lot of folks who don't really understand how brand sponsorships/ads/gifts, etc. work, I think they feel like the influencer's account is popular because they follow the influencer, they are a part of the reason that that particular influencer is getting those deals/contracts/ad opportunities, etc. So, while I think it's faulty logic, I do think there is a level of entitlement that some folks have over influencers (Like, hey you're making $60K a year from my eyeballs on your page, now tell me your sweater is from). Thre's a sense of "you're successful because of me/you work for me" attitude. This is such a big issue that goes far beyond the scope of this article, but I think that's how that works. And because there is some truth to the idea that the influencer IS successful because of their follow count, it's a real tension point.
Reading through I started mentally kicking myself because I literally did this just a few days ago! I like to think I'm different and that I asked nicely enough etc., so this was a nice reminder that people I follow on the internet are just that - people, and have boundaries too. I'd never run up to someone on the street and yell "SHOES WHERE??" but it does feel okay to ask politely where someone got something especially if you think it's cool, I always like hearing people like how I dress. I think the difference is that in person it's a two sided interaction that both people can maybe benefit from, whereas online it's totally one-sided. Can we say deinfluence influencing? Thank you for your time Sam!