My Social Media Is About Community, Not Aspiration

I don’t get social media influencers. Maybe because I’m not their target demographic.

I don’t use social media to learn about latest cool thing that the kids are into, which is why I don’t follow influencers, and I rarely buy things that show up in an ad on my feeds. To me, it seems like influencers are trying to be “aspirational”, to get their followers to aspire to achieve a certain lifestyle - a lifestyle that involves looking perfect in the perfect clothes with the perfect house and the perfect family on the perfect vacation. Clearly a lot of people aspire to that cause influencers have never been more popular.

But like I said, I don’t get it.

Because for me, social media is about connection, not aspiration.

Maybe I feel differently because of what social media, and the Internets have meant to me. See I discovered the Internets way back in the old days, before AOL sent you 3 discs a week in your mailbox. This was the days of Netscape and IRC chat, where you really had to be a nerd to use your family’s phone line to dial into the Internets and connect with people you didn’t know, would never see, and would never meet. This is before you even have avi pics, or could Skype with folks. This was back when you asked someone “A/S/L?” and you could never be sure if the response you got back was the truth or not. It was in that world that I made my first Internet friends, way back in high school. That continued when I went to college, where it seemed like all the Black kids on campus first connected on Blackplanet before we crossed paths IRL. We’d swap AIM usernames and send each other IMs instead of picking up the phone to call. I was in grad school when I got my Facebook invite way back in the old days of 2004, where you needed a college email address from a select group of schools before you could join. As our technology got better, we got the ability to use our phones for connection instead of our computers, then our computers turned into tablets and smartphones that we could take with us anywhere. We got Twitter and Instagram and Vine and Snapchat and Pinterest, and a million other different ways for us to connect to each other. And with each one, my primary goal was to create a community, to find other people like me that I found engaging and interesting and fun to talk to.

At every point in my life, from young college kid to middle-aged new mom, I’ve used social media to connect with other people, to “find my tribe”, so to speak, when I was unable to find that community locally. Hell, I found my husband on social media, so it makes sense that I find friends there too, right? Communities on Twitter and Facebook have taught me so much, and helped me when I had a question or needed support. I especially found Facebook groups helpful during my pregnancy and while I breastfed - here was a place where I could ask about my heartburn, or to compare bump pics with other plus size moms, or get confirmation that it was ok that my breastfed baby hadn’t pooped in 3 days. It was ok that I didn’t know many plus size moms IRL, because there was an entire group of thousands of plus size moms from across the globe, all going through the same issues together and providing support. So what I didn’t go to knitting circle locally, because there was a knitting group on FB full of people my age who both loved to curse and loved to knit (and who doesn’t love the combination of the two together?).

So with my history on the Internets, you can see why I’m probably not into influencers all that much. i don’t want to know about some thing that they were paid to tell me that I need to have in my life. I do want to know what tips other moms have picked up about streamlining travel with their kids. Yeah that dress is pretty, but I’m probably not going to be interested in where it came from unless I know you actually bought it yourself and really love it, and not just saying you do because you were paid to say it. I love and appreciate a good tip, but only if it’s authentic, and the authenticity is the piece that I’m missing with the vast majority of influencers, especially on IG. So I stick to my little corners of social media and I focus on connecting with people in ways that are meaningful for me.