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This Paper Reveals the Harmful Side Effects of Social Media Influencing

Influencer culture picked up a lot of steam a few years ago, and it has now turned into a multibillion dollar industry. With revenues approaching $14 billion this year, social media influencers are starting to exert greater control over cultural norms and interactions. This has been a huge boon for marketing companies because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up giving them far more engagement for their ads, but it comes with some negative effects too.

One such side effect is a tendency among followers of influencers to engage with their content in a problematic manner with all things having been considered and taken into account. The problematic nature of these interactions is not inherently toxic or harmful to the influencers, but it can be really damaging to the users that follow them. With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that social media users can develop a strong social attachment to influencers.

There is also a sense of community that can develop between followers of a particular influencer. In spite of the fact that this is the case, the community spirit is in no way healthy according to a paper highlighted by The Conversation. The truly concerning thing is that the nature of the industry has created a positive feedback loop because influencers have an incentive to keep their followers attached, so their careers are benefiting from the obsession they are inculcating in normal everyday people.

This attachment borders on obsession, and it has been noted in numerous surveys that were conducted in writing this paper. There are also signs of cult like behavior among influencer followers, so there is clearly a dark side to the industry that most people are not aware of. Influencers are still a somewhat new phenomenon, and there hasn’t been enough research done to say anything definitive. However, the addictive nature of social media coupled with the inevitable charisma and attractiveness of influencers makes for a recipe for disaster.

Many users report feeling isolated and lonely if they are not able to interact with their favorite influencers as much as they want to. Influencers need to take the initiative here by educating their followers. There is a way to participate in this industry ethically, and while that might go against the goal of influencing, the current system is not very sustainable. Social media has brought a lot of people together, but it is also ironically resulting in social disengagement and alienation among numerous users and influencer culture is only making it worse.


Read next: Thousands Of Social Media Users Aspire To Be Influencers

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