‘I don’t do relatable’

If an influencer reminds us of our dreary lives, what’s the use, even?
Influencers are meant to inspire us, not to remind us of the mundane, argues this writer.

I was sitting at a café waiting for a friend and killing time by scrolling through Instagram when I came across an influencer speaking about her toilet habits. Completely disinterested, I scrolled past and looked at some pretty photos instead, when as if by fate, I saw a post debating whether influencers should be more ‘relatable’. So far, my answer to this has always been a resounding no, and I wanted to take this space to explain why.

From when I was tall enough to reach library bookshelves and read, my magpie eyes gravitated towards beauty and glamour. In my teens, when the internet was still a work in progress, I spent all my pocket money on Vogue and other fashion magazines. When I was in the art room at school, I would save magazines from their deaths by a thousand cuts and take them home. For me, gorgeous imagery has always been a way to inject dreams into an otherwise mundane existence. My hunger for glitz has always been insatiable. In the immortal words of Valentino: “I love my beauty. It’s not my fault.”

When social media started to gain popularity, I followed people that inspired me and lit up my day – the last thing I wanted or needed was something to remind me about how dreary and hard life can be. And many years later, this hasn’t changed. I don’t care if the models smiling in the picture aren’t real, I’m not silly enough to think that everything I see on the internet is true. I also don’t expect people to dim their happiness if I’m not in a great place. Everyone is on their own journey, and I begrudge no one whatever joy they can squeeze out of life. If anything, I want to celebrate with them.

The truth is that after two hours of traffic in the boiling sun, the last thing I want to hear about is someone else’s bowel movements. I want to see bags that I can’t afford and dream of meals in wondrous places that I can aspire to visit. I want to be sold a fantasy, not be reminded of all the things I already have to face. With all the bad news already in circulation, I want somewhere I can escape. I don’t need reminding that we are all the same, I’m well aware of that from hearing my real friends speak.

Of course, there is space for everyone, but I really hope that this ‘being relatable’ thing that a number of the younger generation seem to want at all costs doesn’t become the default, otherwise, it’s my phone that I will be flushing down the toilet.

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