What the fuck? THIS was a kill-fee piece? Are they out of their fucking minds? Give me a minute. I’m … speechless.
This is Truth told with Charisma, Style and Authority.
If they had had the withered raisins to publish this, it would have been the hottest, fleshiest burst of former glory the Grey Lady has released from her girdle in YEARS. Everyone with a respectable cerebral cortex would have been sayin’, “Damnnn. I’ve been wanting to express this for a long time, but simply haven’t had the talent. Ohmigod, I gotta call Shirl in Massapequa and make sure she sees this! Next week’s lunch will be ALL about influencers and we are reserving a table for eight.”
Cintra. Apocalyptically excellent. Their loss. Their enormous loss.
I stop and buy the Sunday edition because the crossword is still slightly worth a bother (the weekday puzzles are now USA TODAY dumbed-down level) but no more. It’s bad enough that the paper is a shrunken, anemic shell of a toilet-roll’s dream. Your article would have made worldwide headlines. They didn’t have the sense of a titmouse to see that.
If anyone on earth needs proof of rampant cognitive dissonance, behold.
Courageous journalism and editorial vision are dead. Cintra Wilson LIVES.
So astute as usual, and scathingly funny.
The NYT has obviously lost whatever was left of their edge… that’s the kind of interesting story they should be printing.
I’m equally appalled by this phenomenon of endorsing the manufacture and fabrication of the filtered “ personal brand “ designed to influence and hold sway over impressionable people for promotion of commerce. It’s all pay for play , better know as payola , which is illegal in other industries.
When did people become such sheep ?
What’s just as confounding to me is that nothing is considered sacred enough to be kept private and “sharing “ has become a compulsively competitive sport …Decorum (I feel unspeakably prissy uttering this word ) has left the building. In my opinion , mystery is a far greater aphrodisiac….
But on a brighter note …..while it may look like the bleak are inheriting the earth, there is a growing contingent of younger, hyper-aware humans who do not buy into any of this bullshit at all.
So lovely Cintra, take comfort in the new breed of outliers. There is a counter revolution among Gen Z , so many of whom reject all of this nonsense …
They are just quietly and earnestly occupied doing things that are artistically or intellectually driven, so no one ever sees or hears them blathering about how this or that “literally changed their life” and twerking their spray tanned asses on TikTok.
There may be hope. ✌🏼
I’m a humorist and published book author, and to sell my books I’ve been subtly and at times not so subtly told I have to work around the clock to become a popular social media “brand” so all those rising followers will buy my books. And it’s tempting bc my author friends with over a million followers pretty much have to just drop a quick note about their new book and then hit best seller lists. But I hate it so bad and it makes me want to run to rural Iowa and live on a farm! It feels smarmy and cheap to have to sell intimacy for a thriving book career. This constant urgency to roll out content makes me want to go fetal under a blanket. But I still think it’s a lie - many authors I admire the most with robust careers have a small social presence. The only trouble is, most of them “made it” before social was really a thing. It doesn’t matter - I have to be myself and write for/interact with my fans at my pace, or selling your soul is definitely the price you pay. Great piece, thank you.
Possibly my favorite piece yet. Because I am a Gen X-er who, yes, hates influencers irrationally. Thank you for helping me understand WHY. Good art usually does help us understand ourselves better. The way you said “for the worse” and “pool party”—fantastic. Love your voice, love your brilliant insights, love YOU!
The Grey Lady would *never*!!
Thank you for explaining exactly why I roll my 47 year progressive lens clad eyes at these 'influencers'. Total sellouts with no souls at all. Does every godd*mn thing these children do need to be documented and monetized? No. Get the f*** off my lawn. Count me out.
I'll be hanging out poolside, reading your books (once pool season comes back to NY state), because writing requires talent.
Can’t stand influencers either, but I’ve got news for you: Substack is an “influencer” medium, too. Every writer here is marketing themselves. It’s the only way this thing works.
I'm with you on the irrational levels of hate towards influencers but I have a little empathy for the kids. College is astronomically out of anyone's budget so actually learning a skill requires 50 years of debt and it looks like no one's buying a house ever again. Meanwhile the boomers won't retire so millenials are still barely getting their foot on the corporate ladder. What else is there to do for Gen Z but make up little dances, light cakes on fire and sell tshirts with their name on them?
I always hope, when I read you, I will catch great writing by osmosis. So fucking smart my hair hurts.
Cintra, this piece is brilliant and resonates so much! I try so hard to not be a 40 year old curmudgeon when it comes to how I view influencers and the younger generation. Yet I can’t help but feel like there is a collective soul killing that is happening, not just because of the influencers themselves, but our full on acceptance of it as a society. Where are the experts? Where is the art? The talent? It’s not that it can’t exist in influencer culture but the discernment is becoming cloudier and cloudier I think. Also knowing that this piece was killed by the NYT only makes me think that influencer culture has fully penetrated as my guess is someone is afraid to offend…
While I agree with your basic premise, influencers seemingly easy success is somehow unearned because they haven’t toiled away at something. You forget GenXers had the super model. The genetically blessed women of the 80’s and 90’s who only had to walk and pose and became multi- millionaires. There were plenty of vapid interviews about the ridiculous idea of how “hard they work” and yet society bought what they were selling. The problem isn’t the influencers- it’s the customer. Young people are always suckers for crap... usually they grow out of it as they live life and mature....
While I appreciate the well-deserved critique of certain influencers and the capitalistic drive for monetizing every aspect of our life, this is a very one-sided way of looking at influencers. You are putting us all in a terribly boring and monolithic box, and not at all acknowledging those, who like me, use their influence to bring people together (not to sell anything, but to share information) or advocate for better representation behind the scenes. The sad truth is, attention is the ultimate currency, but influencers aren’t to blame for why things have devolved to this. People have always bought into stories (movies or celebrities’ lives), and influencers are simply the new storytellers. It’s disheartening that the people who are actually saving lives labor so much more, but I believe a more nuanced critique could’ve been more insightful honestly.
love this. totally confused how anyone, even with a double digit IQ, could buy into "influencers" ugghhh
I don’t know, I feel like we all sell our selves and these kids are laughing their way to the bank. I’d rather be an influence and make enough money to live off for the rest of my life in a few years than spend 50+ years working a 9-5 just looking forward to the weekend
As a fellow Generation Xer, thank you for sharing. The whole influencer phenomenon is excruciating.
Wow, this is so f’ing fantastic! I read it out loud in bed to my bf who declared “that’s a good one”. He defended, a bit, the idea of capitalizing on one’s person and said if Coach or Adidas came a-knocking we’d be more than happy to sign ourselves over for cash. I called him a “stinking capitalist”. We laughed. But when asked if he’d be ok with me pointing my phone at myself 24/7, obsessing over clothes or skin quality, and living amongst piles of free stuff, he said we’d likely split up.
So there you have it. No body really wants what they have, or at least he and I don’t.
Thank god you have the focus, drive, and generosity of spirit to put into acute and hilarious relief what the hell is happening to us. You ARE the corrective lenses that we all need! Fuck the NYT!
I’m sending you gifts.
I devoured this piece--thank you substack reads for the introduction. The question I have for Cintra (and others) is, how are you defining influencers? It seems there's a bit of a continuum where, on the one hand you have the so-called influencers you describe here, individuals I admittedly hadn't heard of, and then at the other end of the spectrum are artists and writers whose personal brand is part of their creative brand, so to speak. I'm new to promoting my own writing and am surprised by the amount of marketing it can involve. When does amassing a personal following veer into influencing? Is it when the products you sell take over the work itself? I'm curious what other writers on here who have a "personal brand" and perhaps are former influencers would say too... all in all this is a great topic.