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How To Win Friends + Influence People
To judge a person on a six inch-wide mobile phone screen seems like a unfathomable concept. Yet, here we are In 2018 – worshipping at the altar of online presences, taking everything they preach as Gospel.
If video killed the radio star, what have social media platforms done? Even in the four years since I graduated with a degree in journalism, the media landscape seems unrecognizable. While before columnists were applauded and big shot editors were revered, now I question if those jobs will even exist in years to come, and if so – will they bare any relevance to consumers who now seek everything from news to reviews on their personal devices.
While I write for outlets all day every day, I increasingly worry that I am losing my own narrative as I must operate as a mouth piece for other editorial agendas. There are weeks when I put so many words into digital content management systems and on social media accounts that aren’t my own, crafting sentences I would never usually iterate in my own voice (i.e. anything with “AF” or “Slay” in the headline) or parlaying the stories of other’s through interviews or appraisals.
A few weeks ago, I actively paid $40 to go sit in a woman’s house in Laurel Canyon near Hollywood and position myself amongst strangers, just to have the breathing space to hold an actual pen and paper and write the first things that came into my head. This ‘Writers Group’, which comprised of individuals from all backgrounds, felt almost like attending AA as they nodded sympathetically when I told them I write so much content day in day out, that I often feel like I’ve nothing left to write purely for myself and my own enjoyment.
These people weren’t writers, per se. They were production assistants, office admin workers, and stay-at-home parents. Yet, they confidently read their prose aloud to the room and both their eloquence and ability to be vulnerable on the page felt foreign to me – someone who is masquerading as a, supposedly, functioning quote unquote writer.
While words tend to flow from my fingertips in one sense – I know how to hook a reader with a clickbait headline, tease them with social media captions, and I can write clichés, hyperbole, sensationalism, and alliteration like my life depends on it. Holding a pen, though, armed with nothing but a prompt and a blank piece of paper felt terrifying.
I’ve read before that you can only call yourself a writer if you write every day. Despite the fact that I’ve had hundreds of thousands of words published with my byline by now, I still grapple with this belief. While I’m sure many writers find the vast empty space of a white page daunting, it was a sobering moment.
Witnessing the industry I operate in shift so drastically has been both disheartening and enlightening. While most journalists are disgruntled that the power now lies in the hands of influencers, online personalities, or so-called digital curators, one has to realize and dissect why that transition happened.
I grew up aspiring to be an editor in chief, but ultimately one has to pause and question will that title hold any kind of kudos down the line when there is an abundance of tastemakers on the internet.
It’s like I’m over here trying to set up my own traditional brick and mortar store and make a name for both myself as the shop keeper and the goods I’m hawking, but you know, how the hell am I ultimately going to compete against e-commerce big guns like Amazon and ASOS? I might have studied for years, learning everything from sub editing to the ethics of journalism, but I will probably continuously be overlooked for opportunities in the fashion and entertainment media realms for the remainder of my career because I don’t have my own *so-called personal brand.
By now, what was once deemed as the ‘guilded tower’ of industries – fashion media – one that was as difficult to break into as a tightly knit gated community, is so oversaturated with people and their stellar personal brands that I sometimes want to give up before I even start.
“What’s the point,” I find myself thinking. I’m certainly not a model or even close to sample size nor the aesthetic that seems to guarantee instant influencer pizazz. Nor am I an irreverent, nonchalantly-styled French Girl or a waif-y inimitably dressed Scandi type. Yet, I guess there’s probably people out there whom I hold in high regard who have the same feelings, and had they listened to all the nay-saying voices in their own heads and never ‘put themselves out there’ in the ether of the internet whether through their writing or their outfits, then I would never have discovered them or allowed myself to be captivated by their personalities.
I’m not made of star-stuff. But then again, technically neither is anyone whom I love most in real life. And that’s essentially why I’m drawn to them, because their effervescence is real and whole and genuine and flawed yet captivating. It’s easy to spend so much time with your gaze fixated on the seemingly poreless, mess-less, faultless lives of influencers, that we suddenly forget what being ‘likeable’ actually means.
Photos by the wonderful Lauren Lotz