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Free To Be Me! Resolving The Contrast Between Creative Self-Expression and Cancel Culture

September 07, 2022

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Why authenticity matters

We always hear the advice, “Just be yourself!”. We hear it from our significant other when we’re about to meet their parents. They give it as advice during job interviews. We hear it from our mom, who is trying to give us moral support. If you are a content creator, I am about to tell you why you also need to “be yourself”. A truly flexible life advice.

Authenticity always wins, whether in life or in content creation. Making viral content may introduce you to new viewers, but making unique content that speaks to yourself will make people stay. A successful influencer is not someone who is ‘perfect’, but is someone who is true to themselves.It might be the case that there are other influencers in the same industry and niche as you, but they will never be you. Being yourself adds something new to the table. Maybe you add something interesting to the same old boring topic. Whatever it is, only you are capable of doing it. This is why authenticity matters.

Creative and thoughtful self-expression

The truth is, being yourself is easy — you already do it every day without much effort. Creative self-expression is another thing, and it is crucial in order to be an effective influencer. Whenever you are making content, you are sharing a part of yourself; and the goal is to present yourself creatively in a way that will interest viewers.

One of the bigger challenges lies in being thoughtful of your followers. Now, this is different from being scared and anxious all the time wondering if this is the post that will get you ‘canceled’. Being thoughtful of your audience includes being mindful of the words you use or being careful of the message you’re sending. Thoughtfulness comes after you have decided on what your content is, not before. It is a part of the process that comes after choosing a topic and is reflected in the execution. If you do it before, you might fall into the trap of people-pleasing, which ruins your own authenticity. In the end, your goal should not lie in making everyone like your content, but to present it in a way that will not hurt or offend.

Current perspective on ‘cancel culture’

‘Cancel culture’ started around 2017, with people ‘canceling’ celebrities for their problematic actions. Now, someone who is in the public limelight can be canceled, which includes social media influencers and even politicians. 

Eventually, cancel culture has created an online atmosphere that felt “hostile”. This is especially true for influencers, with most of them feeling that there is a restriction to what they can say or what content they can create. Don’t say something controversial. Limit your opinions. Don’t be political. The list goes on. It’s like walking around eggshells, trying to avoid any unpleasant reactions.Now, people are decrying ‘cancel culture’ for it appears that influencers seem to be #canceledt over “little” things. But is this really the case?

Reframing cancel culture and what it means for influencers

You cannot be your authentic self as an influencer if you are constantly afraid of backlash. The risk of having adverse reactions to your content will always be there (especially if you have trolls). Nobody is perfect, and surely there is something about you that won’t align with some of your audience’s beliefs and values. That’s okay, and even normal! We, as humans, have evolved enough to co-exist with one another despite our differences.

However, we can reframe the way we see ‘cancel culture’. Generally, it can be viewed as the modern way of the public asking for accountability from influential personalities. As an influencer, take ‘cancel culture’ not as a restriction on the content that you can make, but take it as an act of concern from your audience. Cancel culture implies that people are willing to call you out and correct you when you are wrong. As the one with the huge following, you have the upper hand to influence, but this does mean that your followers are blind and deaf to your possible shortcomings (you’re not leading a cult, afterall). If you make an honest mistake — and you probably will — you can always apologize and try to do better in the future. At the same time, you can always defend yourself and clarify when your words are taken out of context. 

Being an influencer is not an easy job. As a public figure, you must be open to feedback and be willing to learn from others. On top of that, we know how much time, effort, and resources you are already putting in to improve your craft and content. You’re doing great and we see you! With your perseverance, you are a role model. With your creativity and authenticity, you are inspiring others. By building connections with your followers, you are making them feel seen and believe in themselves. You are a creative force to be reckoned with, so chin up, bring out your best smile, and go be you!

Watch out for Poppin’ @ 4: Free To Be Me! The 4th Year Anniversary of PopStar Philippines to be held on September 8, 2022 (Thursday) at 5 pm in BGC, Taguig.