An Open Letter To Social Media Influencers
There now follows an open letter from Tony of TDL Fitness to all social media influencers:
"In a social media world where we spend more time on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube than we exercise, look at our own thoughts or other self-fulfilling activities the role of the influencer gains a great importance in the world. This is, for good or for bad, a reality. No sense in telling people not to use social media so perhaps it is time to have a word with the influencers. You indeed have an influence and thus so do you have a responsibility; not only in what you promote but in how you go about being you. You think you are doing something good or lucrative but in reality you can be doing more damage than you thought.
What is it you are trying to influence? Let's look at your page or account. What are you really influencing? Are you taking lots of glamorous pictures of yourself? The answer is probably yes. So what are you influencing people to do? To be jealous of you? To envy you? To think 'i'll never look like that but if i keep on looking at this i'll feel better'? What are you telling your followers to think?
The problem is that when looking through typical influencer pages the story is always the same. Incredible beauty or handsomeness but no hint of telling people how you did it or any reality check about how life may still be tough despite looking or seeming on top of the world. The reality of your page is probably non-existent save some 1 second snapshots of your world; and you only show the good bits. What does that say to your followers? It says 'this is my perfect life, and i won't tell you how i got here and i won't tell you anything bad'. What sort of message is that? You make people envious or jealous but if you pull up the ladder which got you there then you are dooming your followers to a state of mental imperfection, mostly subconsciously, and instead of making the world better you are making it more depressed.
What's the point of taking pictures of yourself and putting it online? Sure, to show off. Sure, to show what you achieved. Then what? You probably nipped that one in the bud pretty early on. So where's the progression? Where's the soul searching, mapping and showing that map to others? By constantly glamorizing looks you professionalize looks. By that i mean you show that looking good is something only 'elite' people can do or achieve. Only those in the know can do what you do. Only those who dedicate their lives to what you do can ever hope to achieve the heights you achieve.
So why are you doing this? Are you afraid that if more people achieve what you achieve then your influence is saturated among others? Are you afraid your influencing power might diminish? You might laugh this off and say of course not. Ask yourself again. Are you afraid? Therefore is what you do on social media a desire for attention rather than trying to make a difference in people's lives? Telling people how amazing you are serves no purpose but to make people sad they could never be like you; because they are not you. Your desire for attention without actually articulating your story does more damage than you could possibly imagine.
The influenced, your followers, are much more vulnerable than you think; not in a bad way or a negative way. They are vulnerable in a sense that they will absorb so much from what you post; both good and bad. The mind tries to make sense of what it sees so when it sees your page, your photos, your videos it says 'well this is probably how they did it...and I will never be able to do that'. The mind fills in the blanks for you and it is often what causes the most damage. Because you do not fill in the blanks of how you got to where you are, because you did not tell people that underneath the glamorous-ness there still lies an all-too-familiar imperfection you are hiding, your followers will believe nothing is wrong with you and how you got to where you are was almost impossible to replicate so why bother? Why would your followers bother to change their lives if they assume what you did was too extraordinary or was given to you at birth? The ladder from them to you is drawn further and further away because you made it so.
When you sell a product or promote a product you better have used it to get where you are today. If you were just told to sell this then you selling a lie. People you influence will think 'oh that's how they got there so i will take it'. You place a ladder down so people can climb to somewhere else. Where has the principle gone? If you owe none of your success to a product then what right do you have to influence people about that product? Come clean...it's the sponsorship money. Be honest with people.
That's what it comes down to, doesn't it? Honesty. Why are you not honest about your life? Your life is not glamorous every minute of the day. You are human. When you influence people about how amazing your life is you create a 'garden of eden' where as soon as people get to it they will be happy forever just like you, and whilst they aren't there yet they must feel sad through failure or simply not getting to where you are. You know you aren't happy all the time but dear God you will not be honest about it. Why are you afraid to reveal it? You do more damage to your influencers by not doing so. If you aren't telling people how to get to where you are today in total honesty then you better articulate why people being envious of you is not the way to go.
Are you influencing people to be the best they can be or to do the best they can imitate you? You have a responsibility that comes with your growing influence on people to do the right thing and to not fall into the trap of advertisers; a major reason for the fall of TV advertisement influencing. If you repeat the error of TV adverts then your time will go. Use your chance, the unique chance we all have at this time to speak to people directly, without having to go through company channels, about what success really means and how hard it is. Success and happiness is not found at the end of a receipt. Happiness and keeping fit is not achieved by following you. Tell people what they need to do or reveal how your life is not perfect.
Don't be those people who have clearly had plastic surgery and then tell their followers to keep it real and natural. Don't be those influencers who think it's acceptable to make people jealous or envious of you. Don't let people be depressed that they will never be like you because your level of beauty or success is simply unachievable because that's what you make it out to be. Don't sell out. Don't be fake.
Be responsible. Be real. Be an influencer who actually tries to make the world better by showing it how. Be different and stand out by telling your followers just what it means to be you; truthfully. Be happy within yourself so you can influence your followers to do the same. We have one chance at influencing the world through social media. This is our chance. Make it better. Make a difference. Make your influence good.
Tony of TDL Fitness