Remember Bloggers? They were those crazy fools that fired thoughts and musings into the Internet. Hoping that somehow, at some point, someone might stumble across it and read it. If they didn’t – that was fine. I was shooting nonsense into the internet for about 8 years before people REALLY started to pay attention to it. I’m amazed that people do and thankful for everyone who stumbles across this place.

However, there’s been a shift in momentum in the past year or so. It no longer feels like it’s okay to JUST be a Blogger – writing stuff isn’t as important now. Everyone wants to be an ‘Influencer’. It feels like more and more of my blogging pals are coming down with it, it’s spreading like wildfire it’s..

The Social Media Influenza Pandemic

It’s spreading fast, and to be honest, no-one is safe from it. One day they are smashing out pretty average blog posts, and then overnight, they’ve come down with Social Media Influenza. Without warning, every photo that appears of them online has to have the ‘Beauty Face’ cranked up to the max – perhaps stood in front of a ‘fun’ front door, or an ‘interesting’ wall, laughing maniacally at something off-camera. Their kids, once dressed in Tesco’s best clothes, are now wearing quirky matching outfits and probably have smudgy over-smoothed faces from the ‘Beauty Face’ being switched on earlier for Mummy / Daddy.

We’re no longer writing about trials and tribulations – the petty ranty gripes are pushed aside. Those with Social Media Influenza are CONSTANTLY living their ‘best lives’, everything has to be perfect. Of course, we all know deep down it isn’t – their other half still hates them, they are racking up massive debts, they still feel hollow and alone in their darkest moments. However, a swish through their Insta, everything looks perfect. Everything filtered, smoothed, brightly lit and smug. Showing a flaw or a character defect by writing about it on your blog doesn’t seem to be allowed now – it messes with the ‘Brand’.

If you’re following those with Social Media Influenza, it can be a really depressing experience. If you’re seeing so much perfection around you from people you’ve known for years, people who once felt they were similar to you – you begin to ponder if you’re good enough? Why are they so happy, and perfect CONSTANTLY? Why is everything so perfect for them now? How have things changed so massively for them?

Social Media Influenza is damaging to your health – your mental health

Social Media is a massive danger to everyone’s mental health. Being fed images of perfection – the prettiest, happiest couples, the sweetest and cutest kids, all dressed up in their immaculate, stylish homes as you scroll through your feed isn’t helpful. You start to question why things aren’t that for you. Why isn’t your life an endless stream of fixed grins and smooth skin?

As influencers take more cues from fellow influencers, it becomes an endless cycle of upping the ante. Everyone ends up trying harder to be more influential, persuing even more perfection – there has to be a breaking point – surely?

Of course, it’s great to have dreams, and aspirations – to want what’s JUST out of your reach. This is why people like to snoop around houses they can’t afford on Right Move. We walk into shops with items we can’t really afford, just to have a mooch. It’s good to dream, because, sometimes, dreams do come true – and you might one day afford that fancy house – or have the car you’ve lusted over.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with being an Influencer. They are here, and they aren’t going anywhere. However, not EVERYONE can be one. That would be ridiculous – if we’re all trying to influence, who will actually be ‘influenced’? Everyone rapidly coming down with Social Media Influenza is meaning that people who would happily just fire out some thoughts to their relatively small audience are now desperate to be seen, heard, and amplified. Everyone is clambering for the attention of the internet, like a toddler demanding snacks. Those overcome with Social Media Influenza just want to be seen, liked, retweeted, shared and commented on at ANY cost.

I’m really hoping that I don’t come down with Social Media Influenza. I’ve felt myself coming close at times. I might have smoothed my skin a little once in the Camera App. I may have got James to put on a cuter T-Shirt if we were going out to an event. However, my immune system kicks in and I remind myself – I’m not an Influencer.

Just because you have a blog, doesn’t make you an Influencer. Just as being an Influencer doesn’t make you a Blogger, or a Writer. Of course, there are some that happily seem to balance everything, but these folks are few and far between.

If anyone calls me an Influencer – I will correct them. I’m not. I don’t have any influence over anyone. I’m a Writer, I’m a Blogger, I’m a Designer, I’m a Vlogger, I’m a Sinner, I’m a Saint – I do not feel asham… No wait.. That’s Meredith Brooks.

My point remains, above everything, I’m not an Influencer – I’m a monkey screaming into the internet.

I really hope there’s some kind of immunisation against Social Media Influenza – but I fear it will take even more of my friends before that happens.

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