When I was a kid, I had dreams of becoming a famous actor, though for some reason I grew up and became a writer. Writers do achieve fame sometimes, and I kept that vague goal in the back of my brain. But one night I wrote a negative blog about Taylor Swift for this very website, and after fielding hundreds of angry tweets and the occasional death threat over it, decided fame wasn’t for me after all. When you are young, you believe it would be wonderful to have the entire world know your name. When you are an adult, you want absolutely no one to talk to you, which is something fame tends to make all but impossible.
According to Bloomberg, the majority of young (ish) Americans have yet to embrace the joys of anonymity: a recent study claims that 86 percent of between the ages of 13 and 38 yearn to be social media “influencers.” The study, which polled 2,000 participants, asked responders who wanted to become influencers why they were drawn to that line of “work,” finding that millennials liked influencing’s promise of free stuff and easy cash, which makes sense to me, a millennial who recently used quarters to pay for a deli sandwich.
Members of Gen Z, on the other hand, seemed more inclined than older people to think becoming an influencer would be “fun,” and were drawn to its potential promise of “fame,” which, frankly, seem like the two worst reasons to do anything. I can’t imagine anything less fun than having to spend your life artfully documenting it, possibly because I’m scarred from spending my college years posing for 1,435 Facebook albums attempting to trick my high school friends into believing I was having more fun than them (I wasn’t, but thankfully no one was having fun). And, of course, there’s the fame aspect—from what I can see, all influencer fame seems to get you is public beef with other influencers and potential prison time for your mom.
The real bad news is, teens obsessed with the idea of becoming social media-famous might actually be cursed with it—the Bloomberg study found that while only 12 percent of the polled folks who yearned to become influencers actually considered themselves as such, brands are desperate to find more cost-effective ways to market their shit, and are increasingly turning to the fame-hungry masses to do it for them using their own platforms. Best of luck to all who attempt this leap; in the meantime, I’ll be eating my deli sandwich in blissful anonymity.