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Byron Shire
April 11, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Under the Influence

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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Under the Influence

What the hell is an influencer? And what exactly are they influencing us to do?

The recent Vanity Fair article revealed that Byron Bay is chocka-block full of influencers. They’re spilling out of cafes, clogging up the parking at The Pass, rolling out their yoga mats for a bit of down face dog on the beach.

Clearly aspirational locations help when you’re influencing people to buy shit. I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t find ‘influencers’ in Grafton or Ballina. Maybe a few influenzas.

By the way, old people can’t influence. Sorry, it’s not personal. Nobody wants your lifestyle. Or your face. Old people aren’t good influencers. And generally they’ve lost power of attorney so they don’t shop.

If you don’t shop, you don’t matter. You don’t see pics of Rosie in the nursing home pushing her walker down the hall on your Instagram feed with a #gotthiswalkerataldi.

Influencing is the new word for advertising. Basically you’re not an influencer; you’re a product pimp. You’re advertising stuff to people by pretending you’re not advertising stuff to people. It seems a bit disingenuous.

Instagram is like a big Tupperware party full of people pretending they’re not selling Tupperware. Not that you could sell Tupperware on Insta; it’s plastic. It would have to be ceramic, or tin. And you’d need to be wearing activewear and watching the sunset with your lettuce spinner.

It’s all about the image. We don’t need words any more. Words are for losers. Like me. An influencer uses pretty curated pictures of themselves, and small children who can’t yet give consent to sell shit. Generally not their shit. Someone else’s. I understand this is how social media work #I’velostmymoralcompass #Ineverhadamoralcompass #whatisamoralcompass? #buyyourmoralcompasshere… it’s a keep compass.

I’m intrigued though by this notion of ‘influencing’. It seems to be women who are the predominant influencers, possibly because we spend more, or we’re more easily seduced by images of lifestyles we wish were ours. Or women we wish we were. Beautiful women.

Women have been culturally conditioned to believe that we’re not enough, so it makes us awesome consumers. There’s a product-sized hole in the heart of every woman on the capitalist rat wheel of ‘completion’. Of course, it doesn’t work. The Spell dress, the fake eyelashes, the swimsuit, they don’t actually make you happy. Or fill your product hole. It’s a magic pudding. A bottomless pit of self-loathing. And nothing makes you shop more than good old-fashioned loathing!

Happy, fulfilled people don’t need stuff they don’t need. And most of the stuff pushed by influencers is stuff no-one needs. I mean, they’re not influencing people to buy fruit and veg.

I am not against the idea of influencers; I just wish they’d influence something more meaningful. I look at the photos of ‘influencers’ and they’re vacuous, empty pictures of people being pretty. They’re not actually doing anything. Okay, so you’re wearing your new swimsuit – well maybe you could show us how you can change your own freaking tyre? Put the bin out. Maybe you could be submitting your thesis? Supergluing eyelashes and yourself to the road for Climate Change Awareness. Do something!

As a feminist it’s a bit depressing watching women objectify themselves for cash. We used to complain that men did it to us. That the patriarchy oppressed us with their gaze, but now we’ve taken on the authorship of our own oppression. And don’t say it’s ‘my choice’. Why don’t we see men rolling around on the lawn in speedos hash tagging their meaningless day? Because their lives are generally too ‘meaningful’ to be published on a social platform. Why don’t men choose to be trivialised?

Influencers don’t seem to actually do anything. They don’t have jobs. They don’t appear to be reading. All around the world, women are still fighting for parity in politics and industry, and yet the fairytale lives of our influencers tell women ‘be nothing. Take a photo.’

Is ‘influencing’ the new ‘oppression’?

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  1. Seems like the pot calling the kettle black.
    If I see one more Mandy Nolan poster around town in her underwear I might just catch influenza.

    • We are all walking contradictions Seriously Mate.
      I liked this piece Mandy, it was clear and deliberate, not a lot of ‘comedy’ interestingly. You may be right, all this influencing seems to be done via making people feel inadequate and therefore has an oppressive element to it.

    • Seriously mate! … you’re not actually saying Mandy is trying to “sell” that ‘fancy underwear’ in the posters! Dya think? Really? I doubt any of us gals would know where to start looking for it ( mayb in the wheelie walker aisle in Aldi?)

  2. Yes Mandy, right on!
    I had wondered what it takes to be an “influencer”.
    Then I read of the furore over a chef/cafe owner not agreeing to give free meals in exchange for Instagram posts.
    So it’s a form of prostitution. Self-marketing. And exploitation, especially when it’s of the “influencer’s” children!
    (Haha, I nearly wrote “influenza” there…!)

  3. Another amazing insight into the ‘fake world’. I worry constantly regarding the state of our planet and then see these vacuous women waisting their time doing nothing and it scares me. They just want to be famous for taking photos of themselves.
    Life is so strange sometimes. I’m glad you have a loud and intelligent voice it’s so comforting.
    Thanks Mandy


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