Why ​I cringed when she called herself an “influencer”.

hopp shoes

I’m going about my normal routine of casually reading my style blog feed as I unwind at the end of the day, following along like a loyal fan, interested in all the changes and plans X blogger has for her fabulous wardrobe, admiring her great taste, nodding my head in agreement with what she’s writing, and then, all of a sudden, she refers to herself as an “influencer”, (in all seriousness and without the quotation marks!).  I cringe. It hits you like a truck and everything changes.  There’s a visceral reaction of disgust.  I stop reading, unfollow, close the tab, and move on. I’m OK with the term “influencer”.  There’s legitimate meaning in that term.   But, a blogger who has risen to the status of influencer need not call herself an “influencer”.  That label is best left up to other people to use in reference to her.  But, using that term self referentially is arrogant and insulting to readers.  Wouldn’t it be more humble and gracious to say something objective like “I’m a blogger, I just love sharing my passion with other people and feel so lucky to make a living from doing this.”  An influencer gets called an “influencer” by others but should always disavow that title.    Akin to how a firefighter who saves a child’s life might disavow being called “a hero”.  She might say with humility, something like “I was just doing my job”.  Maybe that analogy is too far out.  It’s more like a successful actress calling herself “a star”.  The moment an influencer calls herself an “influencer” it feels as though her ego has grown too big, and worse, that her primary agenda is to make money off of her readers, and that might very well be true if we are all being honest, but it’s a big turn off to readers when that becomes front and center.  Can we at least pretend it isn’t so?  There’s a Man Repeller article about why the term influencer feels “icky”.  The comments section is very much on point.

21 thoughts on “Why ​I cringed when she called herself an “influencer”.

  1. “Influencer” reads to me as internet marketing jargon describing her role, particularly if she is monetizing her blog. It signals to me that someone has made their blog a business rather a self-assessment of their taste, level of power, etc.

    Like

  2. That’s true, no doubt, but what you are calling for isn’t actually humility. Rather, it is a performance of humility. That said, I avoid those type of blogs because I don’t want to be influenced to buy particular items, I want to be inspired – which people like you do.

    Like

    1. Thank you Amy. You’re right. There’s a certain tone deafness about this issue, that even the more socially acceptable performance of humility is missed. At least it’s genuine.

      Like

  3. I agree that nobody should be able to truly consider herself “an influencer.” …According to whom?! I read some style blogs that are so heavily monetized that I’m not sure what I’m reading anymore–I would like to support people when I can, but for a blog to be successful as a full time venture, it seems necessary for people to sell out completely to advertisers/sponsorships, which then makes the blog uninteresting…

    Like

  4. This reminds me of the observer effect. If someone perceives themselves an influencer (regardless of whether monetization is their motive), the influence/inspiration is tainted.

    Like

  5. I wonder if we were reading the same blog, because I had that feeling the other day too.

    I also feel the same way about the word “foodie.” Like if you call yourself a foodie you’re probably not one (and oh, god, I feel so pretentious for even saying that). I guess it’s a little different than “influencer,” but it’s still an icky-feeling.

    Like

    1. Maybe! Foodie seems fine to me because it doesn’t imply anything about anyone else. It is self contained. You like the topic of food and that’s it. Seems pretty neutral.

      Like

  6. It definitely feels like poor form to actually call yourself an influencer rather than have that term bestowed upon you. But I agree with Amy’s comment above that it sounds like you are looking for the performance of humility, whereas that particular humility train clearly left the station!

    On the other hand, “influencer” is also a pretty descriptive word for someone who happens to have a lot of followers, and it isn’t necessarily inaccurate. Maybe we ought to be grateful when someone highlights their position as an influencer, since it can give us the opportunity to step back and reassess our relationship with that person? It definitely has a connotation that I would have been more careful about deploying.

    Like

    1. Definitely left the station.. It’s polite to perform humility even if it’s disingenuous, everyone does that from time to time. On the other hand, I think audiences know when an influencer is an influencer.. there’s hardly any confusion if FTC guidelines are being followed.. the self proclamation is what’s offensive.

      Like

      1. You’re so right — it is polite, and we do all do it sometimes and to some extent. I think it’s good to go through the motions of humility because the performance itself probably rubs off eventually. I think the world would be a better place if everyone took a step back and had a humility check from time to time. To be clear (because I don’t mean to be so critical), there was nothing truly egregious in the original scenario you described, but it definitely leaves a sour taste.

        Like

  7. Yes yes and yes about the icky feeling of calling oneself an influencer (thanks for linking the manrepeller article by the way). I’m still embarrassed to call myself a blogger lol (I feel like that word deserves a 🙄 too)

    Like

    1. A friend just wrote something recently about how she was going to call herself a writer because no one else was going to. It was a lot more empowering than I’m making it sound! So I feel like blogger gets a pass for a similar reason. You write, you write on the internet, thus you are a blogger. Influencer implies more parties are being involved, ie. the influencees, and that’s where it gets tricky I think.

      Like

    2. I can understand the embarrassment with the word blogger but it’s so benign/neutral; generally makes someone more interesting in my eyes. It means you have something to say and share with the world, big or small.. someone out there will care.

      Like

  8. We probably did read the same thing. This is the second time I’ve seen the term used that way and could not hold back my irritation this time. Your humility and realness comes through on your blog posts.. Not everything is so polished, clean, sterile and influencer-y, lol. But the expertise and taste level is all there. That’s what I like about what you do.

    Like

  9. haha i think i just read the post you are referring to. which is weird because i NEVER READ that particular blogger and just ended up there. i stopped reading immediately. not just because i recognized that might be who you’re talking about, but also because there was no mention of yes, okay, i’m an “influencer”, but man, am i honored to be able to do that, and work with brands i believe in and receive free things to feature for you…nothing.
    i JUST wrote about my 2018 wardrobe plans today and mentioned how grateful and lucky i consider myself to have worked with brands – particularly elizabeth suzann – to receive items to review these past years. i am so humbled and stunned, frankly, when brands want me to wear their clothes. it is the biggest honor i could possibly imagine…

    Like

    1. had to copy and paste your comment back in sans email address (sorry!). but wanted to make sure i repeat that your humility and realness comes through, thats what i like about what you do; its not all perfect, sterile and influencer-y, but the taste level and expert style knowledge is all there.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s