First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
It started happening as the pandemic got into a nice momentum and the “influencer” came to an almost complete halt.
Because if you can’t go out and take a well-thought-out, highly prepared-for photo at a fav place with your favs doing your fav things and drinking your fav drinks and act like the post is completely natural, and goes out to hundreds of thousands of followers and you possibly get paid for the product placement well, then, what are you going to do?
Well, here’s what. All of a sudden you’re all these different things. No. You’re not just an influencer. You are so much more. You make art. You’re an artist now.
Your bio no longer reads: “Girl on the streets, influencer on the tweets.” Now it reads: “Studied urban dance for four years, forgotten poet writer tapping back into my skill set and abstract painter, reader and film critic putting my long-lost second degree in film studies to use.”
And your posts are no longer of you in a bikini out in the sunshine or other trendiest of trends on your body. Now, you’re at home, lighting things the right way and posting pics of your books and your coffee and your empty screens and pens and paper scattered all around. Or you’re taking up dance challenges on social media and participating or showing off your singing talent because oh, you forgot you also have a music degree (must add to bio).
I see you. And it’s annoying. I am especially annoyed at the cosplaying being-a-writer portion. Babe. If you do not hate writing but cannot live without it, metaphorically and physically, because that is literally your main source of income and how you pay the rent and put food on the table then please leave this table. We are not a club. Memberships are not open. And it is not our fault that your parents did not tell you that being an influencer is not a job and that one day you may need something more … real to fall back on.
I really do take personal issue with the posing-as-a-writer trend. It’s been going on for a while. There seems to be some weird illusion that writers are celebrities and are offered a kind of higher standing in society.
Let me burst that bubble for you. We are not. Everyone hates us. We hate ourselves. And often, if we’re being real, the pieces we really love and give ourselves credit for are few and far between.
So please get away from my “art”.
If you’re not getting paid for doing what I do every day to the point of wanting to tear my own arm off just to have something to throw, you are cosplaying my life and the life of so many others. And, if you can, these days, cancel people for cosplaying things that are considered appropriation, well, then I am applying the same rule here, on behalf of every hard-working writer out there who is typing a story instead of posting a story on Instagram.
Look, I get it. There’s a part of me that does feel bad for these people, for the culture of it. They have no content. They have to reinvent themselves. Perhaps they’ve come to the realisation that life has more purpose. But perhaps they haven’t and so they’re just making purpose up with degrees that would take up to 30 years to get and “popping and locking” on Tik Tok like they’re auditioning for Beyoncé’s next tour. Fine, whatever. Do your thing. Just please stop acting like you do what I do and stop acting like it’s hilarious and fun, and equivalent to being in “da clurrrrb”.
Disclosure: Since the death of influencer culture, this writer has had no idea what to wear. She just wanders aimlessly between cupboards in her underwear wondering if her underwear is on fleek enough and, of course, in between she writes. She doesn’t pose. But she does write. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.
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