I received a comment recently saying that influencers shouldn’t be judged.
And I’ll start by saying, I agree.
Influencers don’t owe their audiences anything and they can post whatever the hell they like. It is up to them what they post.
There’s no buts to this either. SO lets look at this from all angles because there is two parties here. The influencer and you. Their audience.
Influencers, by their very definition, exist to produce content for their audience.
The content is created for the purpose of consumption – by me, by you, by anyone who follows them.
And they often get paid for their work.
Audiences should be, and are allowed to be, critical of the content they consume, just like they can be critical of any other product they’re consuming
Critical doesn’t always = bad, judgemental, calling people ‘out’. Sometimes being critical requires providing feedback and sometimes it doesn’t.
Let’s look at this with an analogy. I’m going to use pizza.
Much like this doggo, you purchase a pizza. It’s a specific brand and type of pizza.
If you don’t like the pizza, there’s 3 things that can happen next. And as the consumer of that pizza, you’re the one who gets to decide which one is the most appropriate. There might even be more than one that you can do.
You don’t buy it again (unfollow the pizza). You don’t need to make a big announcement or song and dance about it. You simply do not buy that pizza again. It’s disappointing. You’re looking for more out of the pizzas you eat these days. That’s fine.
You tell the pizza (politely) it could be better. You really care about this pizza and you want it to taste better because you’d love to carry on supporting it. Only you know how appropriate it is or isn’t to request this pizza do a little better. Be gentle. The pizza doesn’t have to give a flying piece of crust what you say either. Go back to pizza scenario one and ditch that pizza.
You find another pizza (follow someone else). Is there another pizza out there that can satisfy your requirements a little bit more?
Being critical allows us to make sure we are consuming content that directly aligns with our values, our likes, our dislikes.
It can protect us from things that are triggering and harmful to us and it stops us from getting stuck in the same message. Finding content that helps you progress and move forward can be really cool.
It’s not about being mean and hateful and telling someone they’re not good enough. You can just peacefully unfollow the content you no longer wish to consume.
There is definitely a cause to be critical of influencers who talk about certain topics but leave important elements out.
For example, if they’re talking about diet culture and not fat phobia or if they’re talking about body positivity but ignoring the social justice side. Are they thin but never recognise their privilege? Do they make blanket statements about health and behaviour changes without ever providing any nuance?
If they’re leaving out those important parts of the conversation, what are they trying to influence? And why do you want to be influenced by them?
It is also important to consider who has the more dominant identity when commenting or privately messaging someone else. If you are the more dominant identity think about whether you need to be hassling someone less privileged than yourself. If the person you’re thinking of interacting with you represents the same identity as you, or close to, then go for it if you feel like it’s necessary.
Of course, there’s a real possibility that they’re new on their journey into dismantling diet culture and have never heard of fat phobia or thin privilege but what they do when people try to mention those topics is the real game changer. Do they dismiss it or are they open? Do they block and delete comments that question or challenge their beliefs?
And if someone is producing content that is just plain ignorant and harmful, you can respectfully provide them with some feedback about how it might be damaging to their audience. You don’t have to be confrontational, take it to the DMs. See how they respond.
It’s what they do with that feedback that actually counts.
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