Today I want to explore influencer culture. Why we are so addicted to it. Why it can be harmful, and what we can do to establish a healthier relationship with health/wellness/spiritual guides so that we can ALL thrive together better.
Why Has Influencer Culture Become So Toxic?
Why are we so susceptible to ‘influencer’ culture, and why has it turned into such a harmful ‘thing?’
We are a culture, a humanity really, that is addicted to the quick fix.
To the shiny solution.
To the ever new and novel.
We are in pain, we want out of pain, and we want out of pain in the most direct way possible - the way that makes most sense to our current perspective and capacity.
This leaves us incredibly susceptible to conspiracy theories, pragmatic ‘leaders’ who are there only for their own gain, and most currently to ‘influencer’ culture.
Many in the self help/spirituality/personal growth ‘circles’ are starting to ‘wake up’ to the fact that we are being manipulated rather than actually helped by many in the so called ‘love and light’ community. That huge numbers of ‘influencers’ in the wellness sphere have been pushing things that are useless at best, and at worst were and are actually propping UP the systems of exploitation, harm and violence we see in the world.
We are starting to see that these people we so fervently looked up to, that we bought products and courses from, that we meticulously imitated and followed the protocols of a) aren’t actually doing as well as they have been pretending to be doing and b) have been ‘sharing’ with us tools and services that are based in the same traumas and misunderstandings that they are claiming to be able to help us overcome.
We are seeing SO much in the way of toxic positivity, appropriation of ancient wisdom, and in this past year especially we are seeing massive abdication of responsibility for the WHOLE in favor of EXTREME focus on the individual, sovereignty and so on - ‘solutions’ that again, are actually a part of the PROBLEM that needs addressing.
We are seeing that the solutions we have been sold by these gurus are part and parcel of the system they proclaim to be ‘woke’ from and above.
That their teachings, products and services only serve to keep things as they are - keeping people trapped in the loops of ‘not enough’ that keep them from ever living a truly enriched life.
We are seeing all the ways in which these influencers have capitalized on our doubts, fears and insecurities, how they have played into our core desires (stability and predictability, connection, verity and basic human needs) and vulnerabilities in order to enrich themselves, make themselves feel more secure and to claim a spot at the ‘top’ of society where they can look down on the ‘rest of us’ with feigned concern.
We are seeing that their continual ‘vulnerability shares’ that lead into that perfect sales pitch for how they overcame that vulnerability aren’t actually solutions to OUR problems (nor were they solutions to THEIR problems) but are rather just a never ending cycle of ‘things’ that keep us feeling like we’re ‘doing something’ to ‘fix our broken selves’ - never actually GETTING anywhere, play into OUR desire to believe that we can just ‘do as they did’ and get ‘their’ results. We aren’t taking a step back and seeing what the ACTUAL results they got were, nor are we seeing the actual path they took.
We are seeing that the fake ‘connection’ generated by social media that enables the influencer to feel like a best friend while having to take NO responsibility for the people that listen to them plays into our desperate need for connection that is so lacking in this world of ‘sovereignty’ at all costs.
We are seeing that their perpetual droning on about ‘taking personal responsibility’ has tipped over from being actually empowering into the land of propping up and making excuses for systems of society that fully make it almost impossible for certain groups of people to EVER have the success, peace and prosperity these people have. We are seeing the overwhelm that comes with looking at all the ways our current society FORCES exploitation because it was BUILT on exploitation - and rather than actually CHANGING that - calling for something different, we slap a bindi and a crystal on it and call it ‘abundance and manifestation.’
We are seeing the cyclical ‘I am struggling with this thing just like you, and here’s what I did to fix it! You can buy it here. Oh I’m struggling again just like you, and here’s the NEW thing I did to fix it! You can buy it here’ proselytizing monopolizes our desire for variation.
We've Been Let Down, This Makes Us Vulnerable:
They know that the current cultural, medical, educational, governmental and financial systems have royally fucked people.
They know that we’re attracted to the ‘alternative’ space because conventional failed us.
And again, they use the same tactics as the 'conventional' industries do to sell to you in the same way - just with a shiny, love and light coat of paint.
They’re telling you that you must be continually productive, consumptive, inspired and ‘going’ - just like the conventional system does - but that you should be doing these things in a ‘spiritual’ way. Same model of success, same model of what’s ‘good’ - just without the drinking, partying and Kim Kardashian following. You should be able to live that constant productivity life and fill in the gaps with MORE self improvement/self help/’self love’ that requires more courses, more yoga pants, more crystals and readings and Gaia.
They’re telling you that your coping and self sabotaging behaviors, your anxiety and depression are still rooted in YOUR lack - your lack mentality, your lack of focus, your lack of discipline - NEVER suggesting that it may be the SYSTEMS that are causing us to feel this way, the impossible way of life culture has told us is the way.
And again, they have a course for that. An app for it. They tell you you should be running your spiritual business, only ever eating healthy foods, doing yoga, meditating, journaling, nailing that morning routine and then going off and living your ‘normal life’/working your coaching career/being an entrepreneur with joy and serenity - because you’re doing all the things! Never asking you to question if normal life may be the REASON you have to cope.
You gotta 'be in just not of the world'.
Still be rich and work all the time - simply hustle in a ‘heart centered’ way, then spend those dallas on the juice, yoga pants and therapy.
Whip yourself into that positivity frenzy so that you NEVER have to actually FEEL what you’re feeling. Feel what you’re feeling, but only as a means to getting RID of that feeling - so you can be positive.
If they DO offer an alternative lifestyle - again it’s almost always totally out of reach for most people. They're selling a never ending loop of coaches coaching coaches to be coaches. Multi-level-Market schemes. Get rich quick programs. Programs to 'get rid of your anxiety/depression/fatigue/lack of inspiration. ‘Find your purpose’ courses - never providing any true, practical tools for figuring out a life that could work for people, or tools for how to empower us to re-work the systems we DO have to make them more harmonious with human life. Big dramatic ‘leave your job and move to the tropics’ ideas sold with beautiful photos - never letting you know about the trust fund, safety net or otherwise very exploitive behind the scenes that enabled that leap in their lives.
It's The Pain That's At The Root:
We are being played - and not always consciously - by people who are also in pain. Who have also been played. Who many times believe their own stories. We are being sold the connection, certainty, variability, safety and ‘wisdom’ that are at the ROOTS of what we want and need - but there’s no actual delivery. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
So why do we fall for it? Why are influencers so powerful, and in this time, why are so many of them coming out as being SO harmful and problematic? How could these people who have postured themselves as loving, progressive, community minded ‘forward thinkers’ all of a sudden be so backwards, self centered, out of touch, conspiracy believing and spreading, with undertones or direct OVERTONES of many ‘isms’? How could these communities of wellness advocates be SO against what would actually make the COMMUNITY well?
First things first, we have to remember what an influencer REALLY is - they represent the RELATABLE 'after' version of ourselves that we are hoping to become. They 'share' our struggles, and also ALWAYS have a SOLUTION to these same struggles to sell us. They aren't perfect - they continually 'struggle' - just like us so we can identify with them, feeling seen and heard - and then they can 'solve' that struggle with their latest product/program/affiliate - giving us the hope that we too can reach the shiny 'after' that they have.
One influencer I’ve watched over the years has sold at least 3 different 'solutions' to her anxiety - she was struggling, then solved it with Kundalini yoga - and with it came the books, the tours, the programs and so on. Then anxiety was back, but don't worry, this time Tapping. Again, you can buy in. Then again, but it's the abundance method she's developed that solved it. Also the new diet, the new meditation practice, the new this, the new that. Over and over. I’ve been perplexed at how no one is noticing that she keeps telling us she’s ‘solved’ the issue, only to come back to us every 6 months with a new story of her ‘crash’ or ‘dark night of the soul’ with the SAME thinking/problem that crashed her out the last time. Followed by the new solution. And it’s eaten up every time.
No one is asking ‘ok so if you told us LAST time the thing you were selling was the fix, why did you crash again?
Why did you need this new thing?
I get that we are humans and that we falter - but again, if we found something that worked, would we not return to that tool vs. needing a whole new shiny one?
Another huge part of the wellness world fully relies upon the narrative that there is something broken about you if you can’t live a productive, hyper successful life by consumerist standards.
That anything that holds you back from being serene while you make those millions and ‘live up to your potential’ is a fatal flaw that must be eradicated in you.
The self help industry is full of people who want to push you, trigger you, challenge you and whip your nervous system into a stimulated overdrive - so that you will feel like the adrenaline of their course and triggering made you ‘better.’ Helped you have some sort of catharsis that will help you ‘push past’ your blocks. And when you eventually fall back into old patterns, it was YOU. And no problem. They have the next course, the next seminar, the next retreat to ‘get you back on track.’
Stimulate, love bomb, scare, adrenaline, crash, new course.
Over and over - and again no one questions it.
Because for those few days, weeks or months after the program when you’re all amped up, it really DOES seem like you can do it all, like you can stop with your addiction and self sabotage. Like you can lose the weight and get focused. And when it falls apart, it wasn’t the course. It wasn’t the tools. It wasn’t the failing of the guru - no it was YOU. You fell off the wagon and YOU need to pay again to get back on.
The point is - it’s never them. It’s always you. It’s perfectly positioned to be that way. Always playing on your lack of self esteem and view of yourself as broken. So when their shit fails, it’s you. You’re not being empowered. You’re being lied to, stimulated and love bombed into a nervous system trigger, which jolts you into temporary action, leads to a crash and they capitalize on that.
I don’t know that many of them KNOW this is what they’re doing - as I think a lot of them have had this done to THEM. They are now riding the wave of feeling amazing due to being LOVED by their FOLLOWERS. The constant praise and celebration that they then turn around and sprinkle on their followers creates that feeling of connection - and to a degree this ‘heals’ people. Both the leader and the follower. Everyone believes what’s being sold because EVERYONE is being love bombed in it. Everyone feels like they are being seen, heard and validated. Offered solutions. It's a merry go round that has little to do with the actual product or service and much more to do with the feigned connection.
Let's take a break and digest this, and I will see you back here next week for part two!