You Are Being Influenced

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Taylor Lorenz has been writing for years about people who gain a following from their cooking shows on Instagram or sewing channels on YouTube, and then leverage their popularity to sell merchandise or promote companies’ products.

Some of you must be thinking: People make money that way? And who cares? Yes, and you should. These “influencers” are shaping our habits, even during a pandemic and even if we’re clueless about it.

Taylor talked to me about influencers’ power, their current mix of opportunity and stress, and her STRONG FEELINGS that internet companies could do more to protect us from manic online lives.

The products you see in Target and Walmart are often the influencers’ own products, use their names, are developed with them or are promoted by them.

People who say they don’t follow influencers might have scrolled through updates from an Instagram mommy blogger, taken a cruise after seeing someone’s YouTube review or bought needlepoint kits from a person they follow online. Those are probably all influencers!

How do you feel about people spending more time online now?

I worry about the lack of healthy boundaries, and internet companies don’t make it easy to escape. These sites need an option to pause activity, and a universal “away” message to signal that you’re taking a break. I deactivate my Twitter account on many weekends so people can’t message me. Many people do that with Instagram. That’s a sign that people want easier ways to tune out and come back.


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