The "Influencer" Generation
Something has been slightly bothering me with social media lately within the realm of bloggers and blogging content and although I couldn't quite figure out why it was bothering me, today it finally hit me.
Before I talk about what is bothering me, I want to make a disclaimer: No one specific person triggered these thoughts as I have seen this increasingly more and more on Instagram from many people and it is absolutely nothing personal to anyone who may do this. This is my personal opinion and something that feels heavy enough to write an entire post about, so here it goes. Also another disclaimer: I have struggled with this and do struggle with this, so I'm not saying anything that I don't constantly also say to myself.
As Instagram engagement continues to plummet I've noticed the panic content creators are trying so hard to hide but are actually screaming from the rooftops. As our likes and comments and story views decrease, our inept desire to push and produce content that is well received and liked, increases.
Daily I see Instagram stories from bloggers asking 15 plus questions about their content. "What do you want to see from me?" "Do you like edited or unedited photos?" "Fashion or lifestyle?" Now before you become angry and come for my head, hear me out. I too have done this previously, not understanding the weight of what I was truly asking.
I don't think it's bad to gage your audience from time to time and adjust what you are creating (somewhat) accordingly, but as a creative person (fun fact: we are all creative people), someone who was created to create, the bigger problem arises when we begin to adjust everything we do and everything we are according to how well it is being received. As humans, yes we have a personal brand, but we ARE NOT a product. We can alter our editing, change our logo, or switch up our feed in hopes of reaching a larger audience and gaining more "followers" but if you are not changing to become closer to who you are at your core and who you were created to be, you will end up right back here, asking the same questions, over and over again not understanding why you still feel like you're missing the mark. And IF we do continue to change in order to try to please more people we will constantly be forced to change and mold and conform, a never-ending cycle causes us to abandon any real brand or authenticity we could have had.
I've lately been sitting with the fact that who I was created to be originally, my natural talents and abilities have not changed throughout the course of my life and they probably never will. This isn't to say you can't gain new skills or strengthen old ones. I mean the natural God-given talents that I did nothing to foster, but have always resided within me. Writing, speaking, ministry, serving, and encouraging have always been strengths of mine. I can try to hide those features for the sake of seeming cool and aloof on social media, but because this is innately how I was created, I will constantly feel unfulfilled and like I am lacking true purpose unless I am allowing myself to live up to the potential of who I was created to be.
In the world of influence, we sell ourselves short when we continuously look outward for validation, instead of looking inward at the gifts we already have. I think the world of social media is so fascinating because there is seriously a place for everyone because every single person is unique. While some of us share similar skills or aesthetics no two people are alike. On the other hand, what I find the most disheartening about social media is seeing people lose who they are in order to become someone or something they think others want them to be.
I understand it seems a bit cliche to preach the whole "just be yourself!" motto, but in an oversaturated world where we are absorbing content daily, where we are comparing ourselves daily, where we are searching and seeking for some sort of genuine connection and realness daily, just being yourself is so so needed. That is where true influence lies.
We are crippling ourselves by continuing to strive to perfect our image. We are crippling ourselves by constantly seeking validation and feedback from people who do not know us personally. We are crippling ourselves by thinking that we could ever have real influence by being anything other than who we were created to be. We are crippling ourselves by shutting out our strengths because we prefer someone else's. We are crippling ourselves by posting only photos that will receive the highest engagement if that isn't what is dying to spill from our hearts. We are crippling ourselves if we are doing ANYTHING other than what feels real and natural and honest to who we are.
While trying to listen to a million different voices we lose our own.
A persona, a brand, or a following will not last forever. Maybe it's time we ask ourselves "what do I want to share?" Maybe it's time to ask ourselves "what inspires me?" and maybe it's time to ask ourselves, "what do I have to say?" No Instagram questionnaire or poll can validate you and never will you live up to all of the thoughts or responses that people have for you or about you. Let the people who receive you well, exactly as you are, find you. You are not for everyone and were not meant to be for everyone & that is the true beauty of influence.
"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" Mark 8:36