Gone are the days when fans would fill their room with posters of Shah Rukh Khan, or girls writing letters to Rajesh Khanna with their blood, or people just resorting to any level of insanity to meet their icons. The euphoria around a star has watered down. Now, we have online superstars.
Today, almost every actor is omnipresent; they are in our bedrooms, dinner tables, workspaces, and bathrooms(well, not quite literally). The ‘I wonder’ factor of the actors that we once frowned upon went in absolute absentia when their daily-life updates got conveniently displayed on our smartphones. We became aware that these superstars, whom we considered Demi-Gods, sit, walk, and talk like us.
It feels like yesterday when everyone was just too invested in Vines, and Dubsmash, a lip-syncing platform, gave birth to a new generation of content creators. And boom! There was TikTok. The lip-sync platform magnetized the whole of Generation-Z in creating feature skits and dance videos lasting for 15 seconds.
Today everyone has become fair game, with the rise of new products germinating around the contemporary cultural landscape – the social media influencers.
This relationship of the rising generation with these creative platforms is very telling of what they stand for. Across different socio-economic backgrounds, the present generation reject prejudices, stereotypes and gender-norms, and practice identity expressions with pragmatism. They are open to changes and are much more aware of the world around them.
What I have noticed being on social media for a while is that while millennials prefer consuming feeds, it is the Gen-Z who are more actively creating the content.
15 Seconds of Fame
Tik-Tok introduced the concept of showing your creativity in 15 seconds, and the world went bananas. Why should I wait for a film so eagerly if I could conveniently swipe through raw and more authentic short videos of people who look like you and me?
A while back, a man from rural India, who lives in a small hut with his wife and other family members, went viral for his extraordinary dance moves. This story is just a wave in an ocean of opportunities that these ‘nobodies have been provided through this platform. The thing is, you never know what clicks among the audience until one day you turn your life upside down with millions of followers.
TikTok’s ‘cringe-including’ content is a potential meme material for Internet inhabitants, but it is a source of liberation and a confidence booster for millions of users. So mocking TikTok is alright and quite fashionable, but dismissing the platform is just plain foolish.
When TikTok got banned in India due to the rising tension between India and China, Instagram saw an opportunity there and cloned the concept in their Reels that now allows you to create content over up to a minute.
Cashing it Out
Instagram and TikTok have enabled everyone to be a creator. You don’t need high-end equipment anymore to bring your creativity out in front of the lens. You might be an actor, artist, dancer, doctor, financial advisor, student, or anything under the sun; you could be a star on Tik-Tok if you know the art of connecting with the audience.
I will be lying if I say I do not get covetous of the influencer’s ability to produce easy money through brands and advertisements while I work my ass off to afford the basic necessities. But there’s no hate here; infact, there’s a sense of understanding that they are moulding themselves to what today’s ‘social media generation’ needs, while individuals like are satisfied with just consuming or disdaining it.
The present generation has lost a sense of attentiveness when it comes to consuming content. The attention span has seemingly gone down with the introduction of the Internet. We now want to jump from one content to another without even trying to find any sense in what we have just watched. We do not know what it is to wait and think about what we just witnessed. In a sense, we are leeches in a human skull, which are harmless to none but to our own intelligence.
Now coming back to the content creators, have you ever wondered how much do influencers earn? These influencers can be 17 years old or can go up to 50, but their pay is directly related to their number of followers. Depending on the followers and their niche, they can charge from Rs 15,000 to over a lakh for a post. Moreover, a lot of people pay them for collaborations and appearances. I kid you not; there was a whole reality show on some streaming platform based on these social influencers’ lives. Such is the height of success, they get to taste.
Brands have understood that in order to connect directly with their customers, they need to give up the traditional way of advertising their products through television and instead use the tool of social media, which is much more convenient and cost-friendly.
It doesn’t matter whether you hate the content or love to make or consume it, you cannot ignore the fact that platforms like Instagram, Youtube, TikTok have given a chance to young minds from all nooks and corners of the world to make a universe for their own self and get to be a hero in it. Isn’t that all we want deep inside or something we dream of with our eyes wide open?
Here’s what social media is doing to the present generation.