Equal Time Fall 2019

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The culture of social media is slowly shifting towards authenticity (#nofilter) Story by BETSY HART | Illustrations by SHANNON KIRKPATRICK Influencers also believe it is important they accurately portray their lives, not just their bodies. Emily Wass, a YouTuber and student at the University of Richmond, has 200,000 subscribers and 10,400 followers. She tries to make sure that her audience knows her life is not perfect. “I have recently been trying to include a part in a lot of my videos where I talk about either issues that are important to me or some of the more serious/ negative experiences I’ve been through,” Wass says through email. “I think this is important because I never want to portray my life as perfect and I want my videos to make a positive impact and be more than just surface-level content.” This openness and authenticity between influencer and audience was not always there from the start. While Dayton does everything she can to show her true self online now, there was once a time in her YouTube career when she tried to fit in. “When I first started YouTube in 2013, my little beauty guru community was so polished. We all had the same cameras and lenses with the same Bath &

Body Works candle burning in the background, with the same background music and high-pitched voices, and we all bought the same makeup,” Dayton says. “There wasn’t much originality or authenticity, and I honestly don’t even recognize myself in those videos.” With all this pressure to conform, social media can lead to comparison. As influencers constantly post their toned bodies, large houses, and lavish lives, it’s hard for audiences to not feel like their lives are inferior. But Dayton believes that audiences are past this feeling and are starting to appreciate more authenticity online. “I think more and more people are growing tired of the mental anguish it causes seeing these unrealistic photos and are flocking to real, unaltered content instead,” says Dayton. While highly edited posts, exaggerated personas, and Photoshopped pictures still dominate social media platforms, the cry for authenticity grows louder each day. If influencers continue to produce honest content, it won’t be long before creators will need to get real or get out. EQUALTIME | 23