For some time, the cool thing has been to be famous on Instagram. The fame bug was spread by many other apps, but it has come to rest at Instagram now.
This was the big change from mid-2000, when social media started to explode. Suddenly, anonymity was the currency - we had pseudonyms, we didn’t want to be identified, we took pride in having a voice with a cool handle… To an extent, Twitter exploited that to the hilt. We have come full circle now. Anonymity is cool again. Mystery is a great virtue.
There is a limit to presentation culture, and Gen Z is now getting tired of always wanting to make an impression. Not everything they do online is a representation of their personality. A lot of what they do online is just to chill, connect with others and be non-judgmental.
Today, it’s not unusual to come across a Gen Z audience that doesn’t have full name attached to their social media profile, but they exist across many platforms where anonymity is the currency. Anonymity is not just the culture; it seems it may be ideological.
IDEOLOGY OF ANONYMITY
Web3, Metaverse and crypto are all built on the ideology of anonymity. Today, transactions can be made online without revealing personal identity. Presence on web started with choosing an avatar in the olden days; today, the Metaverse is all about making an avatar of you. Across social media platforms, conversation is driven by a virtual avatar of you that may have no connection with who you are as a person.
Yes, there is Instagram, and there are hundreds of very famous faces who are known and have massive influence. They build their online persona, make commercial deals and ensure that their social worth increases. Here too, on the same platform, there are creators who do not reveal their identities and go by handles like @societyfeelings or @modernwomenn. They are anonymous with massive influence.
THE VIRTUAL INFLUENCERS
It's not just influencers who remain anonymous; there is a new wave of virtual influencers. We already have Kyra and her over sexualised posts. She is even appearing on magazine covers and selling us destinations, food and more choices.
Today, there is a lot of money chasing a face. Face, personality, political leaning, belief have to be crafted correctly for brands to associate with an entity. This is true for everyone, from biggest star to micro celebrity.
This will change rapidly. The anonymous chat apps, the messaging apps where you are not required to reveal identity, the constant surveillance from governments and the popular apps that own algorithms that help the users remain anonymous are all making this possible.
We are moving to times where being named all the time will not be safe. It definitely will not be cool. It’s time that influencers became Metafluencers.
(The author is Co-founder and CSO, Bang in the Middle)