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Social media is dominated by influencer culture, which obfuscates the distinction between "real" and "reel." Sherry Manzoor writes on peer pressure on social media and other topics.

The manner in which social media has benefited various digital groups, including small businesses, activists, and artists, and altered their lives, for better or worse, shows what a vast platform it is. We can see various lives when we browse through various websites. They can be motivating in some situations but can also have the opposite impact. In this essay, I discuss influencer culture and how it affects people’s minds, particularly young people.

“Influencer Culture” is defined as “the sociological phenomena of individual internet users building an online community over which they exercise commercial and non-commercial influence” by a quick google search. Therefore, anyone having authority over the target audience in a certain niche or industry qualifies as an influencer. They are experts in the subject matter and have specialized expertise. Therefore, it makes sense that brand awareness and influencer culture are mutually beneficial. This is more apparent than anywhere else in the beauty sector. For instance, there are a tonne of makeup-related channels and handles on YouTube (and Instagram). They create unattainable ideals for beauty, whether consciously or unconsciously. They inspire their followers or make them hate themselves depending on how they are admired. We enjoy following famous people on social media and end up striving to their lifestyle, whether it’s a particular body type, haircut, or nose. The obsession with gaining the most likes and comments among influencers has a drawback in that it plays on ingrained fears and minimizes the idea of imperfection. They (followers) start to think that in order to feel accepted, they must change, and they begin to blame themselves for circumstances that are beyond their control. Insecurities progress to self-hatred. Teenagers and young adults are the victims of a culture that presents as “peer pressure,” whereas adults may have the clarity to see past outward appearances. If one creates a reel using the most recent music, variations with that song rapidly follow. The argument is that because they are sensitive and weak, they are easy prey for people with irrational ambitions. The burden of upholding beauty standards adds to the pressure at a time when people are still figuring themselves out and dealing with societal expectations. They reach a point where they think that adhering to “idealistic beauty standards” is the only way to survive in this world in order to be accepted. Aside from physical appearance, social media has also contributed to inflated expectations for life by convincingly portraying it as a never-ending fairy tale. Influencer culture selectively represents happiness. Followers of this 24/7 positive myth undervalue their own effort and potential, which results in an existential crisis.

It makes me ponder what it could be like to witness, for example, an influencer’s suffering. Does that make a certain handle more relatable? We accept that this is how life is supposed to be, which causes us to question our own value because we see individuals living wonderful lives with no issues, ideal jobs and relationships, devoted friends, and contented families. We begin to wonder, “Am I not good enough? Do I not deserve to be happy? or “Am I failing to exert myself?” Even though there is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, there are still some unpleasant realities like broken friendships, dysfunctional families, and problematic relationships. The influencer culture, sadly, ignores this and has an impact on mental health. The majority of the time, the youth are excluded from their classmates.

Social media doesn’t accurately portray our world. We forget that the “real” and the “reel” are two whole distinct universes as we strive for approval. The idealized physique, beautiful lives, and flawless relationships that we witness are frequently not even true. What interests me is how powerful people have used social media as a blanket to hide their pain and emotions as well as their wounds and flaws. We only see what is presented to us. It follows that the majority of their followers take the same route, looking for approval on social media to fit in and thereby losing their uniqueness. As I watched stylish people go about their daily lives, I became trapped in a loop of self-hatred, despising every aspect of myself, and felt aimless. I succumbed to peer pressure on social media when I was 16 years old. This is not unique to me. Thanks to the influencer culture, every teenager and adult in this generation has, at some time in their lives, fallen prey to irrational expectations and beauty standards. I sense a glimmer of hope despite the long path ahead. The mental health of certain social media celebrities is a subject they discuss openly, including their good and bad days. Many people share their opinions on body positivity. In the digital age, society needs equilibrium, where impact is concerned.