An Influencer’s Perspective on Netflix’s The Social Dilemma

P
erhaps you’ve probably watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, a documentary interviewing programmers, company presidents, and people who have helped create or program Google or social media platforms. It was a wonderful mind blowing documentary for me, but maybe I shouldn’t say mind blowing. I should say, I wasn’t surprised, but at the same time I felt understood.

I have been feeling so much lately, especially after reading a post I wrote years ago about when I quit Facebook. I had disabled my personal FB page feeling as though it was distracting me from my daily life, thoughts, and also making me feel as though I had to post. This was before Instagram really took off and social media is what it is now – because now I post all the time (more on that).

I assumed, that other people were absorbed with what I was doing.  So, I tried to keep up.  I’ll post this fun picture, Cheese.  I’ll take a picture of my dog while I’m back home, Smile, Paris.  I booked this job, I’ll be here on Sunday, I’m doing this and that, and in a few months I’ll be doing this! Post, post, post, update, update, update.  Stay relevant I thought, market yourself so you can book a new job, get publicity, prove your worth to your Facebook friends/fans.   Show everyone your life is valuable and you deserve to live! – I broke up with Facebook blog post. (January 2013)

Not much as changed since then, I am back on social and use it as a means to remind people I have a new blog post up, share my passion for home decor and gardening, essentially and I mean very essentially, social media has become my essential for creating, making a full-time income, and bringing me just as much joy as it does frustration.

The negative effects social media has had on me

Social media has changed the way we consume content. Instead of sitting down and taking our time to read, we are scrolling, which might seem quicker but we’re still consuming MORE, more information, and spending more time on the platforms and more time glued to our phones.

The downside of social media has been the quick consumption. The quicker we receive our information the better – the cliff note news headliners, the memes, the 15 second how-to video, the scroll that catches our eyes for 2 seconds before we scroll to the next photo… social media is one of the things I blame for the decline in blog reading. And perhaps Google getting rid of Google reader which turned into Feedly. I had recently opened up my Feedly only to discover about 75% of the blog feeds I were subscribed to were no longer blogging. Having been years since I checked in, I was neither surprised but still shocked and saddened at the same time. Where did every one go? Why, to social media instead of course.

Years ago I had time to slow down and read blogs, carefully choosing what I wanted to see, read, and dive in and connect with the other person who wrote the words. Real words. I wrote real words, once.

Today, all these quick distractions have lead me to quickly passing over those blog posts that once filled me up, to seeing a pretty photo and moving onto the next. This has also influenced my thoughts, where have they gone? Tucked away somewhere, far in the back of my brain and heart, the words have sat as time continues to pass. Then they disappeared and I no longer knew how I felt about anything because I was so heavily distracted.

Make sure you get to the point and mention the company within the first 100 characters. Catch your audience with a witty comment or a photo to make them stop their scroll. Make sure your blog is only valuable content because content is king and random words discussing life or thoughts just aren’t informative, valuable, or worth a page visit any more. Post on social when your audience is on.

This advice, and these practices became the death of another kind of creativeness. The use of words, the use of connection, the disappearance of the slowness of life, being sporadic with thoughts and being joyful in the moment. Bloggers felt it, and so did the audience. And so here we are today, reading less words, consuming more images, and begging for the likes that a platform gives. Where has the time and value of words gone?

Social media – thoughts as an influencer

I want to say that I love what I do, so much. Doing what I do today as a business owner has always been on my own terms. I love blogging as my own creative little space on the Internet and sharing thoughts and documenting life, and connecting with people, and social media is an addition to what I do – it actually is required for what I do. Lately it seems to be the main part of what I do now, being paid for social media posts instead of blogging. I used to get sad, but now I think maybe this is a good thing. Maybe, I can turn my blog back into what it used to be without pressure and I’ll have a different audience here than I do on my social media platforms.

But back to social media, because that’s a the topic at hand. Hearing influencers say they have a hard time drowning out the noise makes me chuckle a bit because they/we are the ones adding to noise. Noise is really how we receive it – is it pleasant, or is it distracting and crushing? If it’s not making us happy, then perhaps less time or not following that person would be a remedy.

I too, am a product just like everyone else who has an account on social media. So all the algorithm obstacles are the same for me just as for everyone else.

  • If I don’t put in the time on the social media platforms – Instagram in particular, then I won’t get what I want out of it. It’s a trade. So IG wants me on the platform as well so they can study my habits so they can put ads in my feed too.
    • Just like if I don’t prepare my blog posts for SEO keywords and searches before I hit publish, there’s little chance my post will begin to get picked up by search engines. I must put in the time on social media to see results and in this case, put in the time on the platform to get what I want out of it which is reach. This is not typical for the average user.
    • However, there is never a guarantee more time on the platform will mean anything in return.
    • This puts a bit of a damper/pressure on me to perform at 110% for the companies I collaborate with, which in turn can, and often does create stress about something I can’t even control!
  • If it’s my job to make money and I want to be successful on it, then I will need to be active on the platform as part of any job. I have to look at it as a JOB.
    • If I don’t like the job, then I need to decide if this is the right thing for me to do, or hire out.
    • Or if I want to leverage another skill I have (I have many layers of creativity) then I will put my energy toward those projects and skills and use social media as a fun place and see what opportunities come.
    • Stop trying to force it if it’s not meant to be. Hard work is imperative but feeling like I’m trying too hard with little success is just mad.
  • The difficult part can be seeing what your co-workers or peers are doing (other influencers), some call this FOMO, but in reality, it’s called comparison.
    • I’ve combated this feeling immediately with a like, and a kind comment. The more I can celebrate everyone’s win, the less any bitterness has to set in my heart. I won’t let envy or comparison consume me! We all have a space here. (read this blog post about how to kill jealousy)
    • Likes and follows don’t translate to dollars. Honesty, it doesn’t and I’m proof of it – keeping my head down, working and really, working.
  • Every time you post, you loose followers. The goal is to gain more than you lose but sometimes that can be exhausting and take more time and effort than you can give as you rack your brain to “top” the last post.
    • I also realized I lost a ton of followers while in France/Germany last holiday. It was so odd but usually people get envious – I mean what I shared was stunning and I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t want to see a Christmas market experience! But, it happens and I let it roll off my back because I don’t know who they are, I’m not going to let outside dictate my life and prevent me from enjoying mine, and I frankly, if people can’t be happy for others, that’s not who I want to stick around with me anyway!
  • Some times you have to follow people you normally wouldn’t.
    • When you are part of a community, you need to be part of it. That means following and engaging and being kind. This comes naturally to me, but the other reality is that I’m not in the mom stage of life so seeing baby products of families with 8 kids is not my every day life or interest. It’s just not what I would typically follow due to life stages – but I want to support other influencers in the space and so I follow, I consume and I support.
    • I would follow a friend who showcases things I am not into as well because I want to be a supportive friend. It is what it is and I have to get over it! I am there to support my friend instead of feeling expected to consume content.
    • Does following accounts I normally wouldn’t create a negative effect on what I’m spending my time doing? Yes and no. Yes because it’s not necessarily giving me any valuable information I need, and no, because it’s work and I need to participate and it’s my innate nature to want to encourage others.
  • The likes and comments effect me differently – they gauge how I will do using the platform to make a means of income opposed to a fleeting high from a like or comment.
    • I too get that addictive feeling of likes right after I posted. Only, as time has gone on, I have realized how I am into it because I have to report it to brands! This is a different kind of pressure and need for the reactions than if I just had a post for personal reasons. In my opinion, it’s almost worse! Navigating these feelings haven’t been easy, I have to remind myself if I want to see more results, then I have to post at the high time, interact on the platform, and hope for the best.
    • I try to focus on one number alone – and it’s not my likes and it’s not my following count. It’s my bank account. The jobs come, and I gladly take them and I do my best. As long as the work comes, I focus on that. Those are the numbers I want to increase.

Positive effects social media has had on me as an influencer

There are so many wonderful things about social media. Sometimes people feel as though being an influencer is negative. I have seen people use air quotes when saying the word influencer (it’s a real title written on the contacts I sign and the agencies that use it), or talk about influencers in a negative way forgetting that I too, share that title. I’ve been told by people who clearly want to be influencers that they don’t like the world influencer and I am a bit puzzled because it’s clearly what they want – and that’s when I say, who cares, it’s the title that’s been used in marketing for decades, there are influencers in every market, this is influencing in the social media world. I have also been asked about what I think is bad about being one (would I ever ask someone the negatives of their job?).

It’s hard work, and not just hey here’s all this free stuff and I’m pseudo famous on the internet – it is a publication, a subscription of images or words. It’s content creation – it’s always being on, and it’s also an honor to do it as a full-time job, and I am PROUD to be a working boss girl.  I will never take what I do for granted because I am able to be selective of the jobs I accept and the ability to do what I love every day and THAT is my goal as an entrepreneur.

I don’t think of myself as just an influencer. I’m a blogger and I’m a content creator. I have a social media following as another means to chat with my audience and share the content I create. It sounds incredibly simple, but it can feel far from it some days. But it’s a job I love so much!

  • I am able to highlight causes that are dear to my heart and gather donations for it – like the Streetlight USA which transitions 13-17 year old females from sex trafficking. My community has stepped up and want to pitch in with money and goods for a fundraising event!
    • I will say this unpopular opinion, but I don’t believe social media influencers should speak about politics just as I think Hollywood celebrities shouldn’t either. You won’t change anyone’s mind, and if anything you will offend and turn off your audience. While some might not care if they offend or turn off their following, I don’t agree. Yes it’s your platform to do whatever you want, that’s 100% true, but it’s not going to bring everyone together. 100% guarantee that there will be someone who will be upset (but perhaps won’t be as offended if I post about my Christmas shopping or my garden). I prefer to bring positive energy to what I put out instead of creating angst or division with my audience.
  • I can share content to more friends – a post can garner thousands of views and provide information to others than a blog post might initially. Initially. It’s another audience.
  • There are many ways to be creative on a platform now, video, vlogs, reels, stories, a photo post, so many wonderful ways to connect.
  • I get advice and encouragement from my community. I ask a question, they have an answer. It’s freaking fantastic, I have thousands of friends with opinions and some with more wisdom and knowledge than I do, and we help one another.
    • I don’t just feed information to my community, they feed me as well. It’s a two-way street.
  • I can share hard times with my audience – typically through a blog post that has SEO and create a private community that heals, encourages, and is part of someone’s healing journey.
    • I currently have a private FB group to help heal, for those who went through a similar circumstance I did and it’s all because I felt compelled to write my story and publish it on the internet.

I love what social media has done for me, connected me with others, friends, and the ability to support others, learn, and grow myself. I feel like I am on the journey of life with many friends and adding social media to my blogging audience has given me so many rewards!

Social media thoughts as a regular consumer
(not using social media for business)

If you aren’t using social media for work then don’t worry about likes. Period. Or watch the documentary so you can better understand how it’s affecting you, if you do care.

I have a photography IG account because it shows up at the bottom of my website. That’s it. I even say that in my bio. I don’t really post, and when I do, I certainly don’t care how it performs because I don’t get work from social media, I get them from word of mouth and that’s free marketing. Because I don’t use that account to make an income from posting and feel the need to have excellent performance, this alleviates so much pressure and I hope that you can feel that way too about your own personal IG.

I would love to know your thoughts on the documentary, about how you consume social media or blogs, and I hope to limit my time and connect back to what I know I was made to do – write. Right here, for now.

Related reading:


Diana Elizabeth is reading the book, Present over Perfect – well, she’s listening to the audiobook while driving and gardening. It has been heart changing and eye opening.

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Diana Elizabeth Steffen setting the table for her annual garden party

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Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next creative themed party. She continues to blog weekly.

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