I scroll through my Instagram feed, greeted by multiple influencer silhouettes, some donned in perfectly tailored attire, others, with perfectly layered makeup. The light catches the right inflections, the colors, tones, hues, moves, come together to create the impact the photographer (or selfie taker) had hoped for. They want you to pause, ‘like’, and maybe even ‘comment’ on their post.
From the inane to the opinionated. From posting a simple “I’m loving it”, to a full-on rant on the state of affairs in our country – or society, the aim is eventually the same. Pause, like, comment!
Unfortunately, I am not very dil phek with my ‘likes’. Call me a social media kanjoos, but I’m not giving away a click of my finger if I really don’t love the content gracing my feed.
Why I’m So Stingy With My Likes
So here’s the issue with why it takes me so long to like a post and why I’m so stingy with my likes.
Actually, it all depends on the content, you see. Ask me to watch Mooroos Vlog on Kashmir, or Junaid’s Akram’s tirade on Clean Karachi, or even Irfan Junejo’s Turkey staycations, or Karachi Dhabas special. I WILL hit that like button, and I will hit it instinctively – almost without realizing it. An unconscious click of the finger, because, I LIKE what I see and hear.
Now comes the interesting bit, I don’t see any of these male influencers objectifying themselves, posing endlessly in front of a camera lens, blatantly promoting the latest lawn collections, (Toyota models, if you want to be fair), or even laptops … ahem, ring a bell?
Yet, it’s not that they’re NOT promoting brands, after all, we all have to earn a living, and high quantity cameras are not cheap to come by (as Irfan Junejo explained to us in one Vlog). But it’s HOW they’re doing it that makes all the difference!
Influencer Wars In Our Future?
Here are 5 reasons why the male YouTubers in Pakistan are taking on the REAL influencer roles, and why female influencers need to up their game.
1. They discuss issues that are close to our heart
Whether it is Junaid Akram’s rants on the social and political climate, or Mooroo’s quietly subtle spotlight on Kashmir. These influencers are making a difference because when they speak, people want to sit back and listen and nod their heads in agreement. Listeners say inside their head – Haan, yeh bilkul sahee keh raha hai!
Have you ever, and I mean EVER shared a female influencer’s latest lawn pose and thought, hmmm, maybe that new jora will help some jobless tailors or kapray wala! Though, I can bet you’ve shared that Karachi vs Lahore Junaid Akram post on multiple WhatsApp chats!
2. Male influencers are not posting endless selfies – are selfies not a “thing” anymore?
When Irfan Junejo spoke out loud in one Vlog, he lamented that he doesn’t follow many Instagrammers, because, “aapki selfie dekh keh mein kya karoon?” Spot on he was!
Really? I’d love to see and know more about that dhaaba you visited, the chai wala that served you garam garam masala chai after the crispy parathas and qeema, or just – let me take in the atmosphere.
This advice is especially for travel bloggers. Transport me to the place you’re at. You have state-of-the-art technology in your hands, use it to show me your view. So I know how beautiful this place is, and I might think of visiting. And you DON’T need to be IN every picture to show me! Trust me, you don’t!
3. When they take on social causes, it’s not about them, it’s about the cause or even the product they choose to promote
Apart from Faiza Saleem (Thank God for some female influencers), where’s your fun, creativity, and sense of humor? If Junaid Akram is promoting Tapal chai at the PSL, he will do it so creatively that you won’t even notice keh chai ka cup conversation kay beech mein kab, or kaisay aaya!
Agreed that rozi roti kamaana is everyone’s haq, but how you choose to do it, speaks a lot about the quality of content you are promoting and pushing on to your audiences! Please be wise(r) and sensitive to your followers’ intelligence. We have chosen to follow you, but if you don’t STOP wearing those high heels when promoting an adventure campaign for women’s attire, we cannot help, but click on the ‘unfollow’ button, or at least, call you out! I mean – what even happened here???
4. Male influencers seldom, if ever objectify themselves
If you want to sell Samsung S10, let’s talk about the new features that make it so awesome. To cut female influencers some slack, very often, the products they promote are for personal care or beauty. It is hard to NOT plant themselves in front of the camera, all dolled up with the product displayed, (blatantly)? within the frame.
Having said that, do take a look at a particular clothing brand’s ‘Let Women Be’ Campaign. This brand could have paraded women in colorful wear, opted to go the ‘group selfie’ way, and flashed multiple lawn prints on our screens (throwback above to the painful media feeds I mentioned earlier)? but it chose not to. The result is a campaign, an idea, and a brand that stays with you.
Try it, girls, you can do it too!
5. Walking the walk & Talking the talk
Maybe male influencers have it easy because makeup is not a thing so far, with men. At least not to the extent it is with women. This makes it easier for them to get dressed, and show up, in the simplest of get-ups. But if you are a staunch supporter of Women’s causes, such as the Aurat March, ‘Me Too’ movement, Ab Aur Nahin, and several other pertinent issues, don’t you think the change has to begin from home?
The moment you post a heavily made-up image of yourself on to the screen, what message are you giving to the younger generation? – That you don’t want to be objectified, but you have to look good for that picture, because … everyone else does? Would you dare post a picture with no filters? AND no makeup?
However, whether we like it or not, not all the blame can be shoved onto our female influencers. They amass a huge number of followers based upon the ‘look’ they carry – a stronghold of women, and men, who love to see them dressed up, looking spruce, smart, and painted.
Perhaps these influencers now need to turn around and change mindsets too.
‘Influencer’ is a very strong word. It means literally, an individual who has the power to affect or change the way that other people behave.(Cambridge Dictionary).
With Greater Power Comes Greater Responsibility
That means if a young girl sees her influencer mother dolling up every day, clicking repeated selfies, discarding most of them because the pout, angle, or lighting wasn’t right, – where does that leave the younger generation?
Are you not teaching them to be vain, self-obsessive, and consumed by a sense of self-worth (lessness) because they are so concerned with the way they look? Will you then turn around and support the cause of burn victims, children with Down Syndrome and countless other disabilities that prevent a human being from looking like you, or like clones from the same selfie generation? And with what conscience will you do that?
Now picture a girl who watches her influencer dad take on social or community causes as he ponders the repercussions on society and discusses them on social media, engaging in a meaningful debate. He invites and urges his audience (followers) to think, not only in one way but another as well.
Which would you rather be? The young girl watching her mom, or her dad? And which parent would you prefer to become? The mom who dolls up, or the dad who walks the talk. I know which parent I’d want to be – what about you?