All posts by ananya111222

A student with a penchant for writing

the influencer epidemic

If you told someone back in 2010 that Youtube, a website where one can do nothing but watch cat videos, and Instagram, a newly launched social media app nobody had heard about,  could be someone’s source of income, they definitely wouldn’t have believed it. Fast forward to 2020, there is no shortage of so called “influencers” who make more money within a month, than most  people will ever make at their day jobs (sad, but true). Anyone who has a platform and an audience who’ll listen to them can be deemed as an influencer, and it is a much sought after career nowadays.It is no surprise that the present day youth is gravitating towards creative and flexible digital occupations. They get to do what they love and not have their lives dictated by anyone, and the rising relevance of social media has made it possible. It is even common for people to drop out of school or quit their jobs to pursue social media.

However there is nothing inherently wrong with having a platform to express your views and talk about your life, no matter how peculiar it sounds. If used correctly, a large platform can make a huge difference. It can be used to educate the people about what’s right and what’s wrong, as well as to throw light to important issues at hand.  The problem arises when these platforms are used in the wrong way. With a massive outlet and huge audience comes the  great responsibility of recognising your influence and using it the proper way to educate the masses about the right thing, no matter how difficult it may be. Sadly, many choose to go the easy way than the right way. Recently, I have seen a massive surge in clothing hauls on Youtube. Not only do these videos provide free advertising to fast fashion brands, but also  promote reckless spending habits on stuff one doesn’t even need. Similarly, content creators whose audiences are predominantly young kids, end up ingraining harmful ideas like disrespectfulness, and sometimes even racism and misogyny in them, which is extremely damaging.

 The recent Black Lives Matter movement has shown us that many of these influencers don’t actually care about issues at hand, they just see them as an opportunity to display themselves as woke to the audiences.  I can think of  hundreds of people who posted one black square on their profiles in solidarity with black lives matter, and then went back to their regular posting schedules, instead of maybe talking more about it and raising awareness about why the movement is necessary. Many of them even showed up at protests just to get their photos taken, showing that this grave and important issue at hand was nothing more than a trend for them.

Every rose has its thorn. If someone wants to be an influencer for the fame and the money, they have to deal with the hard parts of the job. Having a huge platform is a privilege, one very few have. They should recognise their privilege, and use it in a way which is best for this world, best for humanity.

Source: https://medium.com/@mnfst/why-do-people-want-to-be-influencers-bf1c6b42b36f

The despicable face of fast fashion

In the present times, everything is fast paced, and what might be trendy one day, is kicked  to the curb the other. The most common example of this is fashion, specifically fast-fashion. Fast-fashion is used to describe cheap, trendy clothing, which makes the journey from the runway, to your closet and then to the garbage dump, in the blink of an eye. These include brands like, H&M, Forever 21, ASOS, ZARA etc. They  pump out new designs regularly to stay relevant amongst the younger generations, and you cannot escape it. Chances are, the clothes you’re wearing right now are from fast-fashion brands.

Now why is this problematic? By putting out new clothes every month or so, and using extremely clever marketing tactics, they’ve convinced the average consumer that their clothes are “outdated” and they need to keep purchasing from them to stay in trend, thereby maximising their profits every single time. But that isn’t even the worst part. To quench their never ending thirst for money, these brands utilise sweatshops for production of their clothing. A sweatshop is a factory where workers are severely underpaid, and the working conditions are inhumane, ranging from excruciatingly long working hours, to unsafe and unhygienic work environments. Sweatshops are usually placed in third world countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia etc. where worker’s rights are minimal, where rich brands can get quick, inexpensive labour at the cost of actual human lives.  

Since these clothes are mass produced and cheaply made, it is not surprising to know that they go bad after a couple of washes, and are no longer wearable. Each year, the average consumer throws away about 32 kilograms of clothing, adding to the already over filled landfills . It is estimated that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than international flights and maritime ships combined. It also takes thousands of gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt and a pair of jeans, as they are made from a water intensive material-cotton. Further, textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water, leading to the fashion industry being responsible for 20% of the worlds water pollution.

As more and more people get aware of their malpractices, fast fashion brands resort to greenwashing, which is basically presenting a company as more eco friendly than it really is. They make false promises about making their products with organic cotton and recycled polyester. However, they fail to provide sufficient and definitive information, and refuse to specify how much of a garment is made with recycled material. Brands like LuLuLemon and H&M have been recently accused of greenwashing, yet their sales remain high.

It is saddening to see how many people are unaware of these evils, and those who are aware simply turn a blind eye to such issues. How can we prevent this? Our strongest weapon in this war against fast fashion is education. Educate yourself and those around you. Watch documentaries, read books and articles, and convince others around you to quit buying from such brands. Try reducing the number of shopping trips you take in a year. Another thing which can help is mending your old clothes, and wearing them at least 30-40 times to make the most out of them. Remember, every little step counts. Gone are the days when we were blind consumers. Now, the time has come for serious reforms.

Sources: https://www.businessinsider.in/science/news/the-fashion-industry-emits-more-carbon-than-international-flights-and-maritime-shipping-combined-here-are-the-biggest-ways-it-impacts-the-planet-/articleshow/71640863.cms

https://www.greenamerica.org/blog/factory-exploitation-and-fast-fashion-machine