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Why Digital Influencers Are The Worst

Posted on 15-07-2015

It’s a new epidemic sweeping across brands and PR agencies – the undying and unfathomable love for ‘digital influencers’.

I noticed this trend back in 2012 when certain people on my Twitter feed were raving about a new coffee machine they had been sent to try out. Sprawled right across the top of the box was the person’s Twitter handle, and the big bold words “DIGITAL INFLUENCER”. After about a week of listening to these people rave about how the coffee from this machine was literally “the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in Dubai!!!!”, I wisely unfollowed them.

The notorious rise of the DI is something that is hard to pinpoint. Brands are always on the lookout for cool, hip, and trendy people who can bark about their brand day and night with little to no effort required on their part. Also keep in mind that brands love DIs because there’s practically zero cost involved – wave something free in their faces and chances are they’ll be eating out of your hands. Of course the actual process within dealing with a DI is probably more complicated – meetings, agreements, etc. but we never hear or see any of that. All we see is one person suddenly in love with a particular brand, plastering it across every single platform they’re on.

Dilbert-Social-Media-Consultant

The endless quest for likes, tweets, instas, and what not is something that won’t leave the digital space any time soon. And our DIs thrive on this – it’s their lifeblood. What’s actually disturbing is just how ineffective these people actually can be at times. Brands and agencies hope that by pairing up with person X, that instantly all of their followers and social fans will jump on the bandwagon and become loyal customers as well. That’s not necessarily untrue – celebs do this all the time, and fans flock to try out new perfumes, clothes, and eateries if it’s anything remotely related to their idol. But for DIs it’s a slightly different prospect – just because someone appears to have a mass following doesn’t necessarily mean they have any real influence over them.  Being popular does not make you an influencer. An influencer would also never refer to themselves as being one either – that would defeat the purpose.

I’ve been tagged as a DI through no fault of my own, so pretty much every month or so I have agencies reaching out to me to pair up with some brand or the other. Here’s one that I got early this year:

I’m emailing you on behalf of ____________, who are launching a new influencer program that we would like for you to be a part of.

As part of the influencer program, you will be amongst a select few regional social media influencers that will have the opportunity to attend local, regional as well as global brand events and you will receive the latest products to use and hopefully integrate into your life. We believe your influence comes from the great content you create and that the credibility of your work depends on honest feedback to your followers and while we are confident our products will have a great added value to your life, we look forward to be hearing your opinion.

What puzzles me the most is that I don’t actually keep track of what my digital footprint/following is. I don’t count my tweets, don’t celebrate when I hit 10k followers, and certainly don’t give away stuff on my Instagram account. And the best part is trying to figure out what ‘great content’ they’re talking about – in the past agencies have said “We love your blog and the content you publish on it” and I think to myself “Are they talking about this blog?” Another great thing I did some time ago was to ‘audit’ a so-called DI, and on their Twitter account alone, over 90% of their followers were fake. What sort of influence are you hoping to get when your primary audience is going to be bots?

100156.strip_

Of course the real pickle when dealing with DIs is how agencies and brands voluntarily pay to have these people on board. And let me tell you something – if you see some of the rates these so called DIs charge, you’ll want to quit your job and become a DI too. Almost as demanding as a blagger blogger, DIs can be divas all on their own, often asking for outrageous things just because…well, they can. A typical DI’s day goes something like this:

8:00am Wakes up, Tweets/Instagrams flawless photo #stayinbed #gottawork #blessed

8:05am Scroll through list of notifications, RT all the lovely supportive messages, block trolls

8:10am Tweet to a brand that the online order they made four days ago still hasn’t arrived #deliveryfail #customersupport #shopping #wtf

9:00am “Can’t wait to use my [beauty brand] to fix my looks up before I head out! #facial #skincare

10:00am Breakfast as some hipster cafe, top-down Instagram photo of their breakfast, optional newspaper or magazine nearby to show people they can read. Don’t forget to tag the restaurant!

11:00am Checks email for brand opportunities from PR agencies, replies with “Would love to take part!”

12:00pm Outfit Of The Day post, at least 17 photos taken to choose the best one

You kinda get the idea.

In my opinion, DIs add very little actual value – they make a bit of fuss and noise for a while, but after it dies down there’s no actual way to track if anyone was even listening to them to begin with. Sure you can look at boring numbers like their likes and retweets, but neither of these translate into something a brand would find valuable. The word “influencer” in itself is misleading – in my journeys across the Interwebs I’ve seen plenty of people bark on and on about various brands (and free things), but reading these hardly made me want to jump out of my seat and buy them as well. If brands want to use DIs as a kind of ‘brand megaphone’, then that’s exactly what they’re going to get. When it comes to something of actual value, that’s where the debate begins. What fuels things forward is that no one seems to grasp this point. People put so much of weight and faith in DIs that it goes straight to their heads, and that’s where it needs to stop. There’s nothing more irritating than seeing a post on your timeline that has been carefully crafted to look genuine, but you know is part of some elaborate scheme for a product plug.

Got some examples of truly terrible influencers? Drop a few lines in the comments!

Love is…

Posted on 27-06-2015


If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. [1 Corinthians 13]

#LoveIsLove

Death To The Fucking Man Bun

Posted on 25-06-2015

I’ve had it.

I tried ignoring it. I tried embracing it. I tried telling myself that if the guy was sufficiently hot enough, I could learn to love it. But no more. I am utterly and 100% fed up with the man-bun.

For those of you who aren’t aware of this plague sweeping across the scalps of men around the world, a ‘man-bun’ is a small unimpressive mound of hair atop a gent’s scalp, created by growing ones hair out and attempting to pull back the hair into a sleek bob. For months and months, men have fooled themselves into thinking that this protruding mound of hair was stylish and/or made them sexier. I hate to break it to ya fellas, but it doesn’t.

To me a man-bun screams lazy. It tells me that you can’t be arsed to take proper care of your hair, and so you just thought that it would be a good idea to grow it out and tie it up into a bun. While I realise that in the 80s and 90s men used to rock a ponytail, the fad has long died, and your man-bun is soon to follow suit.

There have been several male celebrities in past months who have worn the man-bun, and each one is worse than the next. Everyone from DiCaprio to Hemsworth to Beckham have all at one point had one, and it’s depressing as fuck. I feel like it should be illegal to have a man-bun, yet there are articles like this that actively encourage guys to grow a man-bun. (My favourite line is “You don’t need a brush, comb, or a shower to create a great man bun.” – basically throw your personal hygiene out the door and you’re good to go).

I think most men are under the delusion that a man-bun makes them sexier. No, no, no, no – you’ve got it all wrong buddy. A man-bun works the opposite way – it turns most elegant, sexy, eligible men into cheaper, unwashed, undesirable versions of themselves. Men look at celebs with a man-bun and think “That could be me! I bet that guy is getting tons of sex despite that hairy abomination on his head!” NOPE – a man-bun won’t get you laid, but it’s as good as wearing a chastity belt. Any time I now see a guy on Tindr with a man-bun, I just automatically swipe left. I’ll just leave it in the hands of natural selection to weed out these bun-fanatics until this trend well and truly dies a horrible death.

This Is What Happens When One Direction Comes To Your City

Posted on 04-04-2015

#1DDubai happened – here’s the aftermath:

I Am Not Your Gay Best Friend

Posted on 24-03-2015

I will sit with you in class and doodle on your notepad while the professor drones on about some subject that neither of us really cares about. I will daydream with you about our future lives and giggle when the cute boys pass us by in the hallway. I will chat far too loudly with you in the library until we are asked to leave, which between you and me is just fine because that place smells of old things and sweaty feet. I will spend long hours with you poring over dead textbooks as we fruitlessly cram hours before our final exams, with notes and half-eaten dinners strewn around us. I will smile back at you as you climb on stage in front of our peers, addressing us all for one last time before we make it on our own in the world.

But I am not your Gay Best Friend.

I will roll my eyes when you tell me that you’ve found ‘The One’ and remind you again how many times you’ve said this in the past. I will smile and be polite when I meet him, saving my judgement for when we’re back at my apartment and I can safely confide in you over a bottle of wine or two.

But I am not your Gay Best Friend.

I will gracefully decline your invitation to join your bachelorette party, much to your dismay, despite trying to entice me with promises of my own exciting lap dance. I will calm you down on your big day and remind you how lucky you are and how beautiful you look – and by god you will look beautiful. I will stand in the front row at your wedding and watch as you walk down the aisle towards the man you love, and later raise a toast to the girl I met years ago who grew into the woman I know today.

But I am not your Gay Best Friend.

What Happens During A Sandstorm

Posted on 21-02-2015

People tend to forget that Dubai is essentially a desert. So when a sandstorm hits the city and blinds us all in its fury, people are all like:

01

I mean there’s sand everywhere, wind howling around you, trees potentially ready to fall on you, BUT FIRST:

Okay, with the #SandstormSelfie out of the way, here are some real things that happen when a sandstorm hits Dubai:

You realize that your day of tanning at the beach is ruined: 02

Or worse still, your outdoor brunch has to be moved indoors: 03

You’ve washed your hair and blown it to perfection but Mother Nature had zero fucks to give: 04

This familiar sight will greet you in your balcony:

Meanwhile, your car looks like this:

car

And driving around will be like this:

Oh and if you’ve ‘accidentally’ left your laundry out to dry: 05

So yes, a sandstorm may end up ruining your day a bit: mi4-cruise-run

But calm the fuck down people. It’ll all blow over.

When Someone Cute Sits Next To You On A Plane

Posted on 02-02-2015

I spent the past weekend in London, and of course on my flight back home I silently chanted my mantra of “please let an attractive guy sit next to me on the plane” while lazing around the departure lounge because I was four fucking hours early for my flight. This is one of the only reasons why I enjoy flying economy – you’re forced to sit in close proximity to other people, and every so often when the gods are kind, you might get to sit next to someone remotely interesting and/or attractive. Now striking up a conversation with that person is a whole other dangerous game, which I’ll no doubt explain in another blog post. But back to this weekend – after casually checking the departures screen for my flight details several times as the hours ticked by, I suddenly noticed to my absolute horror that there was a “Gate Closing” notice next to my flight number. What in the actual fuck was happening I didn’t know or care, but I shot across the departure lounge to the gate with terrible images of my fellow passengers judging me as I boarded the flight last.

Thankfully I did make it on the flight, and there were no shady looks from any of the staff, which was a blessing. Wheeling my flaming pink carry-on suitcase down the aisle, I rocked up to my aisle seat and locked eyes with Surfer Dude who was sitting in the window seat. Now of course this guy’s name wasn’t actually Surfer Dude, but he fitted the bill perfectly. Steely blue eyes, casually tousled hair, and a jawline that you could cut glass with. I smiled a little, and he proceeded to completely fuck up my hormone levels by taking off his bulky grey sweater to reveal chiseled arms, a broad chest, and a t-shirt that was of course too small to contain all his Surfer awesomeness. I slid into my seat and tried to ignore the fact that he was playing Candy Crush on his phone with the concentration and facial expression that one would usually reserve for solving differential equations.

But as with most people who fly (myself included), he put on his headphones and continued his Candy Crush marathon while occasionally stopping to partially devour a bag of Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons. And with it being a night flight, my body of course demanded sleep, however it did not take into consideration that a 6ft person like me would need the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil contortionist in order to comfortably fall asleep in an economy class seat. Nevertheless, I dozed off for a while, and when I woke a scant twenty minutes later, I was facing Surfer Dude with my mouth very much prominently open, probably my body’s natural method of ‘peacocking’ my best assets. Look at this mouth and think of all the forbidden things it can do…

Surfer Dude had pretty much noticed me awaken from my slumber (the quite audible sound of me snapping my mouth shut may have alerted him), and he turned towards me. I, however, was still quite haphazardly squeezed in my chair, and just stared back at him. At which point he slid off his headphones, ran his hand through his hair, and leaned in closer to me. My headphones were still pretty much wedged into my head, and Calvin Harris’ Sweet Nothing was aptly blaring in my ear drums. Surfer Dude began to say something, and of course I couldn’t hear shit, so I yanked out my headphones as gracefully as I could and uttered a feeble “Yes?” at him. He leaned in close again, locked eyes with me and gently whispered in that recognizable Australian twang,

“Mate, ya mind if I squeeze past ya and get to the toilet?”

I’m looking at a June wedding.

You Know That “Recall” Option In Your Email?

Posted on 15-01-2015

You know the feeling – you’ve spent the past hour composing an email, filling everyone into the BCC, attaching the right documents, and then you hit Send. Except you then notice a spelling mistake, or there’s an “XXXXXX” where there should be a quote from your client.

head-desk-bartlett

Now ordinarily at this point you would have cleared your desk, formatted your PC, dropped your tacky souvenir holiday items into a box and quit your job.

BUT WAIT TECHNOLOGY TO THE RESCUE OMFG.

Someone in IT once told you that if you ever fucked up an email, you could magically pray to the Internet gods and they would disperse their minions to the corners of the earth to delete that faulty email from people’s inboxes. That magical prayer was called “Recall Message”, and looked like this:

PR

So of course, you breathe a sigh of relief, click the button, and think that everything is right with the world.

Except, it’s not.

The ‘Recall Message’ (specifically for those who use Outlook), doesn’t work the way you think it does. The Recall Message ONLY works for internal emails, so if for example you send your coworker an email calling her a fat whore and then regret it, you can hit the Recall Message to automagically delete the email from her Inbox (if she hasn’t opened it already). Crisis averted, all is right with the world, and you can go back to being fake BFFs at work.

But for the rest of the world, i.e everyone else in your address book, this recall function doesn’t work. In fact, it makes things even more messed up because when you click the “Recall Message” button, people will get ANOTHER email from you saying that “XXXXX wants to recall the message”, which then makes us pore over your original message EVEN MORE trying to figure out why you didn’t want us to open it.

A simpler solution? Just send a new email with “Correction” or something like that in the subject. We understand email fuck-ups will happen, but if you’re one of those people who thinks that the Recall Message is the solution, well I just have one thing to say:

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(Cheers Aby)

I Read A Women’s Magazine – And It Totally Fucked Me Up

Posted on 02-01-2015

A few weeks ago I found myself doing something that I hadn’t done since I was about 12 – reading a women’s magazine. Don’t get me wrong, I still have fond memories of sneaking into my sister’s room to read issues of Femina India and track down the shirtless men in each issue, but the reason I was reading a women’s magazine now was for a particular segment of the apparent hottest bachelors in the city. (Side note, happy that two exes are on the list, not so happy that one of them sent me a text message looking for a shoulder to cry on when he didn’t win. I told him to fuck off.)

The perilous thing of course is that after I had finished reading the section I wanted, I was stuck with the rest of the magazine. And did I mention I was catching a flight? So I sort of shrugged and read through the entire magazine to pass the time. By the time I finished it, I was a little taken aback. Do women actually read these things? Some of the articles in it were good, but a majority of them made me feel a little shitty. But being the super-sleuth that I am, I decided that this needed further investigation before I could come to a rational decision. So on the flight back home I picked up four more women’s magazines – both local versions and international – and proceeded to pore over each one the next day. There almost seemed to be a pattern to the advice and  content that I found in each magazine, so I decided it would be super-helpful to decode some of these common articles.

MEN: Find out what they REALLY want to say: it wouldn’t be a women’s magazine without some sort of article attempting to decode what men say, and while this is horribly sexist of me to say, it makes for an easy article and an equally entertaining read. How you can translate “You look different” as “You’re getting fatter” is beyond me, but I did make a mental note that if any guy said that to me, I’d bitch-slap him into next week with my copy of Vogue.

Cellulite: this seems to be a topic that can be discussed at great length. What is cellulite. How to get ride of cellulite. Staying sexy with cellulite. Why you shouldn’t panic if you have cellulite. It’s almost as if you’re having a cellulite party and everyone’s fucking invited. Granted this may actually be an issue for women the world over, but the way this one magazine was describing it was as if you needed to amputate parts of yourself.

[Insert Celebrity name] shows us how she juggles motherhood and a career! Bitch please. If you believe that any celeb is going to sit her ass down and pour her heart out into a magazine about how she tackles motherhood, you’ve been smoking some epic shit. Walk around your neighborhood and talk to a bunch of real women who are coping with motherhood and they’ll tell you a thing or two. That Photoshopped celeb mum on the cover won’t be telling you how to get vomit out of a new Chanel dress, let me tell you that.

How you can be the best version of YOU: if there was an award for the most cryptic article title, this would be it. I mean seriously – women seem to be in some sort of eternal battle against each other, and these articles further fuel the fire. One of the genius tips was to “always be aware” – no shit Sherlock, if you weren’t aware you’d walk straight into that fucking street lamp. WELL DONE YOU ARE NOW 75% A BETTER WOMAN!

Keep him coming back again (and again, and again): Men looove sex (or objects they can thrust into at least) so sex tips are aplenty in most magazines. Of course you don’t outright call them sex tips, but something more candy-coated so your readers can giggle like schoolgirls. Also in this column are the typical “How to lose / get over / shoot / stalk / unfriend the ex” nuggets of advice which every woman needs in order to navigate the perils of dating.

Look your best at [insert age]: these pieces border between being useful and downright bizarre. One article said to “increase your consumption of maca root powder” – what in the eternal universe is maca root powder? Another article listed “Drink red wine” since it contains powerful antioxidants. So you get to be drunk off your ass all in the name of science and good health. Where do I sign up?

Make 2015 the Year of Youwith the New Year comes a slew of these shitty ‘New Year New You’ articles,  often accompanied by a photo of some skinny bitch in yoga pants holding an avocado (or laughing while she eats a salad). These articles are probably the most irritating to read, so if you value your sanity, read something else instead (like this wonderful blog).

Got more tidbits of awesome advice or articles you’ve read in a women’s magazine? Share them in the comments!

Grief

Posted on 14-11-2014

Grief
is
a vine
that you
prune
and weave
into a thing
of beauty
but it chokes
light
steals
the joy
instead.

Grief
cares not
for
color
wealth
innocence
cares not
how
you would
rid
of it
if you
could.

Grief
is in
your
heart
mind
soul
down to
the
marrow
of
your bone.