Break the Internet by Olivia Yallop’s Criticism – The Anguish of Influence | Computers and netbooks

For people like me, sitting here weirdly typing in a Word document for some old, half-forgotten thing called a journal, influencers are easy to look down on. But, as I learned from Olivia Yallop’s book, not only does it limit my understanding of where we are as a society (and where we’re headed), but my ignorance is partly to blame. from the very industry in which I work. “Journalists and publications are very reluctant to promote the influencer industry,” complains one of those interviewed by Yallop, Instagrammer Makeup and Style. “If you scroll down the Daily Mail shame sidebar… it’s like influencers don’t exist,” she says. “This silence around influencers – the same silence that can make you wonder why you’ve never heard of many of the ones mentioned in this book, despite their millions of followers – says it all,” Yallop writes.

Indeed, it is a book full of unknown names and dizzying numbers. “Top kidfluencers include brothers Vlad and Nikita, ages six and four, whose shared YouTube channel grossed around $ 64 million.” YouTuber PewDiePie “has 106 million followers and is expected to earn around $ 8 million per month.” And what about this: “In 2018, financial analysts shook their heads in disbelief as Kardashian’s sister Kylie Jenner wiped out $ 1.3 billion (£ 1 billion) from the Snapchat market value in a single day after tweeting, “So, does anyone else open Snapchat anymore?” ”. Yallop contextualizes these ridiculous statistics with an engaging analysis of online culture that also takes into account world-changing events, from the Capitol insurgency to the pandemic.

After starting out in traditional advertising, Yallop left the ship for a job in digital marketing when his agency began to lose to social media. And who better to guide us through this bizarre and chaotic online world than an industry insider? She takes us to a VIP influence party with a “million subscribers” policy. In an attempt to become an influencer herself, she tries an influencer bootcamp and, in one particularly fascinating chapter, secretly goes to a meet-up for a “snarkers” session: a group of Redditors dedicated to hating an influencer who has been. picked as a fraud in a viral post.

Corn Break the Internet is more than just a series of gonzo dispatches. It discusses the decline of mainstream media, the philosophy of celebrity, the wild excesses and inequalities of late capitalism. “Declining newspaper circulation, growing skepticism towards experts, financial insecurity, the exhaustion of millennia and a shift towards corporations rather than governments as being responsible for solving social problems are all trends that have propelled – and in some cases have been propelled by – the rise to influence, ”Yallop writes.

It is a book that takes an in-depth look at the commodification of the self and the increasingly blurred line between leisure and work. We often hear of influencers making six figures, but underneath is a subclass, barely at the mercy of mysterious and fickle algorithms. “No labor movement will ever fight the asymmetry inherent in the configuration of the platform of influence,” Yallop tells us. “Influencers are trapped in a permanent state of precarious codependency with their hosts: they don’t own their audience but just rent it out on a platform.

Behind our small screens hides an unimaginable immensity, which Break the Internet manages to transform into something understandable, even for ignorant influencers like me. It’s ironically funny in places, but there is a kind of sadness in Yallop’s writing. The sadness, perhaps, of someone too smart and thoughtful to work in a space that is – too often – utterly meaningless.

Break the Internet: In Pursuit of Influence by Olivia Yallop is published by Scribe UK (£ 16.99). To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at Delivery charges may apply.

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