TikTok users are tired — and no, it’s not because of Sheri Nicole and Monty Lopez.
This time, viral culture enthusiasts have taken to the platform, complaining that they are sick of “out-of-touch” influencers flaunting their lifestyles. And while TikTok’s rejection of the traditional, perfectly curated content creator is nothing new, the push for relatability has soared to new heights. TikTok users now want to watch influencers with 9 to 5 jobs.
As many internet users watch creators as a way to escape from the reality of working a day job, the apparent downfall of the full-time influencer may come as a surprise. But this sentiment has been budding for quite some time.
For as long as TikTok has been around, day-in-the-life videos have been some of the platform’s most popular content. However, viewers aren’t just interested in their favourite influencers’ day-to-day life. Many vlogs from people working ~regular~ jobs have gone viral over the past few years. Racking up over 248k views and 26k likes on an average day working in tech video, Sami (@shaaaybeee) is one such example.
However, the renewed discourse around full-time influencers and their lifestyle kicked off last month when TikTok creators started going viral for offering advice on how to “sneak” into New York Fashion Week. Of the many creators that shared their tips and tricks, @tiffbaira led the charge. Posting a video on August 30th, Tiff shared her “secrets” to getting into NYFW events and even walking in shows, her video amassing over 379k views.
She went on to link a “holy grail” list of NYFW publicists in her bio, recommending that viewers contact them to get into fashion shows.
While many users welcomed the efforts to democratise NYFW, others were quick to criticise creators for sharing the information, claiming that influencers have little respect for the work that goes into these events. As Danya Issawi writes for The Cut, “It almost goes without saying that fashion should not be reserved for the elite…But for publicists… it was hell.” From being inundated with emails requesting to attend NYFW shows to crowds of people showing up to events uninvited, publicists and planners struggled to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
Fashion analyst and writer Mandy Lee (@oldloserinbrooklyn) took to TikTok to share her thoughts on the situation. On creators posting details for NYFW, she said, “this doesn’t feel like its helping democratise fashion, it feels like it is making a bit of a mockery of the industry… from the angle of respect to the people who have been working months and months to make these events and shows happen.”
Meanwhile, celebrity stylist @ebonybrownstyle criticised content creators for “pushing aside” fashion professionals who were unable to attend the shows due to influencer overcrowding.
“People who work in fashion were a bit perplexed – I will say – by the amount of TikTokers and influencers at New York Fashion Week”, she explains. “We have the coveted positions in fashion that a million people would kill to have, yet some of us are being pushed to the side for people at home, playing dress up in the mirror.”
Viewers flooded the comment section with support for Ebony’s commentary.
One TikTok user wrote, “People often forget about the utility of fashion week and how important actual fashion professionals’ presence is.”
Another viewer shared, “The conversation reeks of privilege they don’t even understand this is ppls LIVELIHOODS.”
To make matters worse, this anti-influencer sentiment came off the back of Tara Lynn’s, also known as @tarawrld, viral TikTok earlier this month. Taking a page out of Kim Kardashian’s book, Tara spoke about how BeReal makes her feel as if she is the only person working.
“Does anyone work? Like does anyone have a job?” she begins in the now-deleted video. “I got BeReal, and this BeReal could go off at 11 am, 1 pm, whatever, and everyone is in bed.”
TikTok users were quick to criticise the influencer. Stitching the original video, @jesssnellx called out Tara for her privilege, writing, “Says the person who literally just videos herself for a living 💀 girl they probably have hardworking jobs and are tired.”
Given that creators are expected to post consistently and reinvent themselves and their content, no one can deny that social media influencing can be painstaking work. However, it appears that viral culture enthusiasts have had enough of watching influencers flaunt their privilege and lifestyle, seemingly unaware that the average worker is often overworked and underpaid.
Having said that, the push for influencers not to quit their day job seems to be the final frontier of relatability on TikTok. As content creator and podcaster @FluentlyForward noted, people don’t actually want to watch someone with a regular day job; they just want to support creators who are down to earth.
“I think it’s less about having a job, and it’s just more that there’s an attitude change that happens when a lot of people typically quit their job”, she goes on to say.
All that to say, it seems that the phenomenon of the full-time influencer is changing. As Gen Z enters the workforce for the first time, facing the realities of a 9 to 5 job, it appears that social media users are chasing a sense of camaraderie instead of escapism. But, with this, a central question remains, will the full-time influencer be able to stick it out?