There is a reason why you don’t see your favorite YouTubers weighing in on the most heated issues of the country. A majority of favorite Instagram influencers will never engage in public debate about cultural and social issues. Not in fear of sharing their stands, but from the fear of retribution. From the outside, the life of a digital creator feels like a dream. Free merchandise, world-class experiences, and getting paid to travel sounds like a great deal for many. In reality, it comes with a price. A price that becomes unaffordable as time passes.
Creators learn the hard way that nothing in this world is free, least of all speech. It’s walking on eggshells and choosing the path of the least resistance. A wrong stand can dump you out of the working cycle and render you useless, and it doesn’t matter where you stood in life, it’s where you stand today. The fear of cancel culture is real and looms heavy on all creators.
Creators use their personality as a product to garner new views and stack a career that’s largely dependent upon what they are up to. For a large part, social influencing is considered to be a harmless occupation with no real-life consequences. But becoming a public figure comes with a price.
Pitching your personality as a part of the deal has unmitigated consequences. Because you are now the product. And the product has to be flawless.
Wielding massive influence over a largely unaware crowd can be consequential for people who do not want to engage in social movements due to a multitude of reasons, ranging from lack of interest, awareness, or the fear of being on the wrong side.
At the height of the 2019 CAA-NRC protest, when the entire Internet was posting about the protests, Delhi-based makeup influencer Shreya Jain decided to post a snippet of her sale. When called upon about her lack of energy and involvement in the protest, she explained and deleted her posts. Not everyone can master the jargon of social movements, and while participation is important, it is not super hard to consider why creators do not want to make the choice.
The Washington Post recently reported that A-list celebrities now largely seek to avoid getting real on social media and view Twitter in particular as a “high-risk, low-reward platform”. The politicized and highly charged discourse discourages people from personally engaging with the platform. When the fear of saying something wrong has plagued the high and mighty — with all the resources and security in the world — you can only understand what small creators must feel.
The looming fear of being cancelled punctures the wheels of free speech before the creator even takes a flight. An entitled audience addicted to free content does not aim to be invested in a creator’s journey but will take full offense of their wrong stand. To exist in this world of ad money and sponsorships, you also need to take the weight of the corporate overlords, who might not be interested in dealing with “controversial creators”. The combustion of All India Bakchod taught a lot of creators some great lessons in public performance and exercising restraint.
Internet fame is fleeting and online audiences are deeply unforgiving. As a creator, understanding the impact of your voice and having a stand on issues is important. While the blows ensued by a highly unruly audience and the preemptive cancel culture are beyond your reach, what you can work on is having a thick skin and the will to stand up to pressure. Here are four ways you can deal with the pressure:
1. Listen More, Speak Less
Before jumping to conclusions or taking sides, analyze the situation with an unbiased perspective and decide whether the stand you are taking is worth the strife or not.
2. Strengthen Your Inner Circle
A great way to have a prosperous digital life is to have a safety net that isn’t tied to IG impressions and YouTube Views. Ensure that you have people in your life that will stay around when the lights get snapped off.
3. Diversify Your Distribution Channels
Regardless of the social media platform you base your camp on, you are on borrowed land. It is important to maximize your reach and attract a new set of audience. You can also build a premium base with TagMango, a SaaS platform that allows you to share your expertise through workshops and courses.
4. Exercise Restraint
You don’t have to jump on every single issue that crosses your feed. Not only does it increases your chances of getting things wrong, but it also poses you as a reactionary with a free-falling opinion.
When the cancel culture comes, it impacts more than intangibles like self-worth or confidence — it takes an axe to your public perception, security, reputation, prospects, and the very next paycheck. So the fear of cancellation is real, and the only way out is by having ownership of your online ventures.