This past week, I read Hopper’s article Influencer Marketing in 2020 – Are We Sick Of It Yet? At one point, the author states that younger generations demand authentic content, which they are not getting when companies use influencers to promote their products. (Hopper, 2020)
I find this quote interesting and somewhat ironic. Content on social media was once seen as authentic by default, at least far more authentic than media on TV, radio, in magazines and movies. In the mid-late 2000s, content creators on social media garnered large audiences in a seemingly “organic” manner, mostly through word of mouth in the form of shares, likes, comments, and followers. This was before comprehensive algorithms, bots, sponsors and ads.
The idea that content creators on social media – now termed “influencers” are going the same route as older forms of media in terms of authenticity, is a fascinating development.
This idea reminds of one particular conversation I with a friend back in 2008. We were at the movies, watching the trailers before our show came on. I can’t remember what movie we were about to watch, nor the trailers we saw, but I do remember a conversation I had with my friend. We’d just seen a trailer advertise its movie using a Twitter handle. We looked at each other, puzzled, and remarked how weird it was to see a movie using Twitter to advertise itself.
In 2008, social media sites weren’t regarded as professional platforms, at least not to us teenagers at the time. YouTube had only just launched its Partner Programs (Jackson, 2011). Twitter was the site to keep tabs on celebrities’ day-to-day thoughts and activities. Facebook still had gaming apps, Poke wars and Honesty Box, a classic vessel for cyber-bullying. In hindsight, I realize that social media already had a significant impact on society, especially in the United States with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign (Aaker, 2009). My friend and I were only somewhat cognizant of political events of the time, however; we simply found it strange to see something in the “real world” advertised on social media. The line between this so-called real world and the internet was distinct.
I consider myself lucky; my adolescent struggles were nothing compared to the challenges youths of this decade face. On the smaller end of the scale, I never had to worry about how botched my makeup looked. None of us had the beauty-guru community on YouTube to teach us how to shape our brows, or create the perfect winged-liner look, or how to contour our faces. We didn’t need perfect techniques or expensive brands – we were all experimenting with our looks. Teens today appear to be under so much more pressure to look perfect.
More importantly, however, the ease of access to information means that no one is blind to world events. Ten years ago, my lazy teenage self could choose not to watch the news on TV, or choose not to read the newspaper and remain ignorant of the world around me.
Today, newsworthy events are all around us online. People talk about everything on Twitter and Facebook. Livestreams are available to keep updated about ongoing events. Articles can be found everywhere, even before you load a single website if you have apps such as Pocket for Firefox. I generally regard this as a positive change, but as we all know, the abundance of information has a troubling dark side. Misinformation, hacking, conspiracy theories, and extremists – these can affect all of us in some way or another, and they can be difficult to recognize when they’re designed to prey on our vulnerabilities and predispositions. Adults who are unaware of these snares can be duped by misinformation that elicits strong emotional reaction. Teens, who are often navigating the online world without any guidance, are even more at risk.
Social media and the internet at large has fundamentally changed us. We are at a transitional point where the most knowledgeable and adaptable demographic of users are also the most vulnerable – people who were born into our current technological landscape, with no concept of what used to be considered “normal”. Over time, I hope we will become so adept at navigating these digital pitfalls, that they will no longer pose a threat to the wellbeing of future generations as well as the positive potential of widespread access to information.
The life of a teen in the 2000s was surprisingly different from those in the 2010s. How Social Media Changes Us
Who had it better, teens in the 2000s or the 2010s? Read my take in How Social Media Changes Us.
Hopper, D. (2020, September 7). Influencer Marketing in 2020 – Are We Sick Of It Yet? Retrieved from
Jackson, N. (2011, August 3). Infographic: The History of Video Advertising on YouTube. Retrieved from
Aaker, J. (2009, August 27). Obama and the Power of Social Media and Technology. Retrieved from