Blogging. What was once a time-filling, creative hobby that anyone could get into, if they had the words and a Blogspot account, has transformed into a lucrative self-making industry. And how amazing is that? Creators are publishing VOGUE-worthy content, hiring professional photographers and brunching at the world’s most glamorous locations – just for the ‘gram. But in 2018, when EVERYONE wants a part of the success filled pie, why is everything we do feeling so un-natural? Why have we all stopped hanging out in our hoodies, taking part in #chats and sending cat memes and started pods, plotting and imitating?
I can’t refresh my feed these days without proclamations of ‘exciting emails’ and ‘secret collaborations’ from blogger after blogger. But instead of it feeling like ya gal has just smashed something epic out of the park and is being rewarded for her incredible hard work, it kinda feels like ya gal had an email from Co-Op and is being sent a new hand wash but feels the need to make it sound amazingly important so that she can keep up with the blogging Joneses.
I bloody do it too! Having been sent a River Island bag and declared across social that ZOMG I HAVE A COLLABORATION WITH MY FAVOURITE HIGH STREET BRAND, I can see the temptation to force these announcements so we can keep up with those who ACTUALLY have big things happening.
I did this all because I wanted people to think I was doing as well as others were doing.
Where as we once used to see Sally from the Saturday night 7pm chat announce she was going to be heading to Thorpe Park for a blogger day and we all got excited for her, now we feel like WE need to post about a, ‘ZOMG AMAZING PRESS TRIP TOMORROW’, so we don’t feel left behind.
It’s not just declarations of amazing news that is being forced out across my feed, it’s friendships too.
When I began blogging, I loved connecting with others over Twitter, joining in chats, sharing tips, asking questions and retweeting every compliment I was ever given. But in 2018, the Twitter blogging community feels forced, in parts.
Where I still have my faves and friends who I tweet, retweet and sling a ‘YASSS QWEEN’ on every selfie I see or new people I discover and like to pop them a compliment to say that I’m digging what they do, it’s starting to feel more like sucking up.
I bloody love going to events, hanging out with people I’ve known for more than 4 years and meeting new people who I virtually interact with on a daily basis. What I don’t love is cliques of gals riding on each other’s coat-tails, appearing at these events together – only to not say more than a sentence to each other before posting all over social media about how they are blogging besties.
Before this was just reserved to brands like Benefit, ‘zomg can I please masturbate with your new mascara’, we’re now seeing other bloggers with great opportunities, growing audiences and engaged followers and slinging them tweets, wanking over their latest output.
Is it because the seemingly only way to grow nowadays is to be seen with a ‘bigger’ blogger or to get a shout out from them? Is that why everyone and their Nan is creeping into mentions, DMs and blog posts professing their undying love?
I’ve seen a huge emergence of blogger cliques and bloggers who bounce from one to the other in the name of social climbing. Declaring their undying love for each other when previously they’ve never said a word to each other, or if they have it’s been an unkind one – for what? A rise in popularity? A slice of their pie? A quarter of their contacts? A fraction of their following?
Maybe because I’m old AF in blogging terms but I just don’t have the time to force a friendship because it may be in some way beneficial to me. If I connect with you on a layer that isn’t just our follower base – maybe it’s our mutual love of Salt and Vinegar McCoys, WWE or an intense drive to work hard – then you’re never going to get rid of me and I will forever send you a complimentary GIF every time you post but if all you can offer me is a PR contact or some gossip about someone else – I just do not have the energy.
Twitter is not exclusive when it comes to content and people that feel forced. We ALL see posts on our feeds daily that are artistically over-styled and over-filtered. And this can be a good thing! Instagram IS a visual platform after all and to REALLY grow, your images need to be absolutely outstanding and different.
But what if your content, for whatever reason – talent, money, time, CAN’T be individual and original? Well then ya force it.
Whether it’s buying followers, using bots, joining a pod, recreating someone else’s theme or even trying to force yourself to stick to a theme when you just can’t (HI ME) – all of these methods are forcing growth or engagement.
I’m definitely one to be like – JUST NEED TO GET SOMETHING ON INSTAGRAM TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE DON’T UNFOLLOW ME and it leads me to force content that sometimes isn’t as good or as well thought out as I’d like just because I’m making myself get it out there and have my voice heard.
I also do that thing of asking the boyf and friends to take a million pictures of me smiling the biggest grin even though I’m forcing back the biggest grimace – just for the ‘gram. However, I have to say, where I stop is the faux modest caption.
Perhaps you’ll know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you won’t. But with successes like Hannah Gale, Em Sheldon, Chloe Plumstead and Grace Victory – who all talk about the nitty gritty of life, who give you a backstage glimpse of their lives behind the incredible content – inevitably we start to see emulations of their ‘real-talk’ style.
Those who were once used to dining in a 5 star restaurant, wearing a £200 dress and eating a £36645 steak and owning it are now so terrified of being seen as unrelatable that they must caption the above image with a few words on how they spilt their £15 Bearnaise sauce down their dress and fell over and banged their head on the way to the table. ‘CEPT YOUR DRESS DON’T HAVE A SAUCE MARK AND YOUR HEAD AIN’T GOT A BUMP.
This is certainly on the rise and it can be difficult to distinguish from those who genuinely, ‘tell it like it is’ and those who force relatability in the name of trying to grow.
It’s a frigging jungle out there. Publish your VOGUE-worthy content and get blasted a fake, or out of touch or a snob. Publish your chin spots and have 1235 unfollow you. Or worst, publish a post proclaiming your chin spots when your face is glowing like an Anastasia highlighter palette and just look like a big forced, fraud.
Writing is bloody tough. It’s even bloody tougher to develop a style that is completely your own. When I first started out, everything was so monotone and boring because I didn’t know who to be. I was forcing myself to be those bloggers who could write about anything and make it big.
It was only when I stopped caring and started to write like me and how I speak (and hopefully anyone who has ever met me can vouch for the 36 C-Bombs I drop within 5 minutes just as equally as how the word ‘vagina’ will roll over my blog post) that was when I developed my writing style.
So now, when I see people who write blog posts in the style of how other people write blog posts, I can’t help but cringe. I am not exempt from this, I once dropped a ‘blimming’ because Hannah Gale dropped a ‘blimming’ in her Regina George (must buy the same sweatpants) kinda way. But it felt so forced and so unlike me. So now I just say ‘fucking’ and be done with it.
But this forced writing style seems to be on the rise and again it feels like a shortcut to trying to be successful.
So what’s the problem here? Can’t people just write in a fake style, post faux modest captions and bum-lick whoever they like all for the sake of KEEPING THINGS POSITIVE?
Sure. I’m hella certain that I’ll see myself and others drop a ‘blinking’ when the F-Bomb isn’t working or DM an Instagrammer because I hope they’ll give me a shout out (I won’t actually do this) or tweet about my OH SAUX RELATABLE DAY OF BINGING ON CHOCOLATE FINGERS UNTIL I’M SICK because at the moment, it seems to be working.
But can we all just stop for fucking (frigging) second?
What is it all for? Popularity? Success? Friendships? Engagement? Freebies? Is it because we’re unhappy with ourselves or what we can produce so we emulate and force different styles so it doesn’t feel like us? Or can we just have a word with ourselves and reassure ourselves that what we are doing is good enough.
Can we just reassure ourselves that we don’t need to force friendships, styles, captions or words to get where we want to be but that we can get there (perhaps less quickly) by being our 100% authentic selves?
Here are some steps we could ALL take to make things feel less forced:
Stop writing and posting like others. Instead use the time to discover and hone your own style – you’ll get noticed for your talent, creativity and originality and not for being the person who copies whatever is successful at the time.
If it’s not coming, let it be
Rather than sling up content that isn’t your best – take a step back and let the creativity come naturally so that when you do post, it’s a belter.
Don’t be a creep
Yes we all want to congratulate creators who are killing it – and we should – they deserve recognition. But stop sliding into that blogger’s DMs every 5 seconds because you want what they have or what they might be able to give you. Especially if they don’t engage back in a natural way.
Use your energy to big up your actual blog friends, the ones where the relationships are mutual and the only thing you want from them is them not to eat all of the donuts before you’ve photoed them rather than their contacts and opportunities.
Buck the trends
The faux-relatability, the brunch at whatever spot is coolest, the style of flatlay, the aspirational theme – whatever everyone else is doing because they think it’s trendy, DON’T DO. This goes back to being yourself – sure if you’re pink obsessed with a massive sweet tooth, pitch up at Peggy Porschen and never leave but don’t do all the things because you think you should.
Whatever your writing style. Whether you’re relatable or aspirational. Whether the latest ‘hot’ blogger is your best friend or someone you detest. Or if you just want a fake-ass caption because your real-ass life is abysmal that day – can we just do us? And not the forced, fake us… not all the time. Just the ‘US’ that we need to become happier and more content with so that everything feels less forced again.
Oh and don’t force sponsored posts either – just wear the item of clothing nonchalantly around your pad and get your boyfriend to take pictures in between games on the Playstation. Like I did, with NICCE, here.