They pose seductively in perfectly styled bedrooms or smile wide with the backdrop of an exotic location behind them. You see them wearing the newest trends or showcasing the latest beauty products.
The photos that pepper the Instagram profiles of Instagram influencers—or those trying to become “Insta-famous”—tell a story of glamour, excitement, and access. The sales strategy works so well that influencers can turn promoting these brands to their followers into a full-time job.
But, as Betches discovered during a series of interviews with women who were trying to make a living being Instagram-famous, there’s another side to this new business model. Many who are trying to grow their following to make a living are finding that the more popular their Instagram profile becomes, the more stressful, isolating, and mentally toxic their real lives get.
“It’s so easy to become obsessed with the persona you are creating (on Instagram),” said Isabelle Dungan (@izabizabelle), a media personality and creative consultant who was tasked with becoming an Instagram influencer for a digital travel series.
“Getting to a lot of followers”—which generally means over 5K for smaller influencers and 500K+ for bigger contract deals—“is a full-time job,” says Dungan, who was tasked with growing her employer’s Instagram account to 10K or more. “It’s very easy to get totally sucked in.”
It’s not only easy to get sucked in, it’s nearly impossible not to. By its very design, Instagram is addictive. There is evidence that getting a like on Instagram can trigger the same kind of chemical reaction in the brain as gambling and drugs. (So the next time your mom accuses you of being addicted to social media, she might have a point.) Dr. Harshal Kirane, Medical Director at Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research, explains, “The same pathways that enable us to connect with healthy behaviors (such as bonding with others) are the same pathways that can get co-opted and activated to seek out really unhealthy habits. Instagram intentionally designed a number of algorithms to ensure the mechanism of receiving likes is activating that underlying pathway.”
Megan Gentry (@meganngentry), a photographer and brand influencer, said she experienced a major mental shift when Instagram became taking over her life. “Being an influencer took up a lot more time than I expected,” she said. “I knew that if I spent more time on a post I would get more likes on it and more engagement. So I started scheduling my day—my friend time, my family time—around posting. Getting the perfect shot, editing it, and making everything flawless became my whole life.”
The investment in curating her feed to such an extreme paid off, and she began gaining more followers, accruing more likes on her posts, and getting more lucrative offers from brands to showcase their products. But the larger her audience grew, the more problems she started facing in her life offline. She moved from Napa, California to New York City, where someone at one of the brands she worked with taught her how to use Photoshop to make herself appear thinner in photos. “Before I started using Instagram I already struggled with depression and anxiety,” Gentry said, adding that after she learned Photoshop, she noticed she started getting more followers. “I developed a really bad eating disorder in that time frame. All for a photo. I wanted to look in real life how I looked in the Photoshop version. I sort of let go of everything else I cared about, so I could get perfect photos, get paid more, and work with more brands.”
And then there are the comments, PMs, and harassment that goes along with being famous on the Internet.
“About two years ago, when I hit 10K followers, I started getting a lot of messages,” said Gentry. “It was really exciting but it also got easier (for strangers) to bash me. It became dehumanizing in a way.”
Initially, Instagram was a positive outlet for her. “When I was posting my photography and having fun with the account, it was great. But when I got a larger following, my anxiety got like 10 times worse. I was worried about posting every day because I wanted my following to grow but then I got additional anxiety about the hate comments.”
Gentry also noticed a change in her boyfriend of three years. “He was sleeping on the couch, playing video games, and barely talking to me when we were together. But when I was out in public he would be like ‘this is my girlfriend, she’s a beautiful Instagram influencer.’ He started using me to grow his following and would get jealous of me.” Eventually, they broke up.
Dungan echoes how the intense focus on growing Instagram followers can take a toll. “I lost a lot of money buying outfits and makeup and facial products,” she explains of the personal investment she made to grow the travel company’s Instagram account, which focused mainly on her as the host of their digital show. Dungan describes spending thousands of dollars on travel as well as facial products, blowouts, makeup and clothes to look the part. “I always wanted to put my best foot forward. It was a lot of pressure and I really didn’t feel supported on any level.”
But she thought it was an investment worth making. “They sold me a story that I would get a lot of brands to sponsor me. It never happened.” While she admits she was investing in herself as a brand as well, “I was doing this with the hopes that I would see a lot of return on that. And six months later I am heavily in debt and the company conveniently pulled the plug on the project as soon as I broke up with my boyfriend (a co-founder of the production company) before we even got into post-production. The men running the company treated me as completely disposable.”
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The issues facing Instagram influencers are so widespread that mental health advocate Larissa May created the organization Half the Story (#halfthestory) with the intent of helping people find healthy relationships with social media.
“People that are spending more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to experience symptoms of social isolation, depression, and anxiety. And brand influencers are virtually spending their full days on their phone, it’s a full-time job,” said May.
She notes that even when followers know that influencers’ profiles don’t show the full truth, people still compare themselves. “With media and magazines, for the past 50 years, we have been comparing ourselves to the people on the billboard,” she says. “Now that billboard is in your hand at all times, you yourself are on that billboard every day of your life, and everyone is constantly comparing themselves. These comparison tactics and thoughts are part of humanity, yes. But social media places a huge magnifier on that construct.”
For both Gentry and Dungan, getting to a healthy headspace took time—and distance from the platform. Gentry said a three-week hiatus gave her the space she needed to mentally reset, and she was able to re-engage with Instagram with stronger boundaries in place. She reveals that when she returned to using Instagram, she unfollowed “all the pages that made me unhappy or made me feel bad about my image and that helped a lot.” Still, Gentry admits, it’s a challenge to scrub her account of everything that sparks the impulse to compare. “To this day, I have a hard time following certain influencers, even though I love them, because I know that it’s triggering for me.”
Like May, Dungan wants her experience to help shield other young potential influencers from the pitfalls of trying to be Insta-famous. While she is still posting to her personal account, she has taken some time away from being the face of a brand and is engaging with the platform in a more empowering way. “You have to be really passionate about what you’re creating, and be sure it’s creating value for society and your life, otherwise don’t do it,” says Dungan. “Especially for young women. I want them to know that they have a choice and can make their own decisions.”
Images: Megan Gentry; @izabizabelle / Instagram
Babe.net, the millennial pink Barbie dream house of a women’s website that became famous for its article accusing Aziz Ansari of sexual assault, has failed. Well, failure might be extreme, as their Instagram and some loyal staff tattoos still remain. According to a rollercoaster of an article in The Cut, Babe has ceased to create gems like “Here’s what type of hoe you are based on your star sign” forever. Looks like they should’ve hired me when I applied to work there in 2017…
While it would be fair to blame the journalistic vodka-cranberry blackout that was the arguably sloppily reported Aziz Ansari piece, The Cut indicates that a series of other unprofessional practices contributed to their untimely demise. Babe, an extension of the British college news site, The Tab, was aimed at 18-24 year olds, run by 18-24 year olds. What could possibly go wrong?
Before the Aziz piece broke, I interviewed for a “job” at babe.net that would pay me a stipend for a 9-5 work week what I make in one night of bartending. It was a video fellowship with the sparkly pink promise of a salaried position, and while I wasn’t eager to be broke, the work environment at Babe was, I’m embarrassed to admit, intoxicating. If “America Runs On Dunkin’,” Babe ran on “rosé all day.” It looked like an imaginary job created for the female lead in a rom-com who works at a hip magazine full of attractive twentysomethings sipping iced coffees out of the corners of their lip-glossed mouths. I immediately wanted to be a part of this hyper-feminine media universe, despite the offensive starting wage. This financial sacrifice isn’t a Babe-specific problem, but rather, a theme across the board in women’s media—give young women a creative voice instead of money. Who needs health insurance when there’s happy hour?
Wait…guys…is Santa hot? https://t.co/1OvR5saNnd pic.twitter.com/L07NE7IJDX
— babe (@babedotnet) December 19, 2018
My 13 Going On 30 career goals were quickly shattered when it became clear that aging, like money, was a foreign entity at Babe. The women interviewing me were exactly 23 years old with botox injections in their eyebrows. When they asked which “vloggers” I admire, I sensed they could see right through my choker-shirt to a person who doesn’t know which Kardashian is Kylie Jenner. I had failed to present myself as a fun and flirty yet feminist tastemaker. However, when they asked me to produce a video for the second interview, I was blindly confident I’d locked down this glorified internship. The tagline for babe.net is “for girls who don’t give a f*ck.” After all, I’m a girl. I’ve been known to not give a f*ck.
In an off-brand move, the second interview was conducted by a man. Being around 28 at the time, Joshi Herrmann was referred to as “the office elder.” The staff bragged to me about how there’s “nobody in their forties telling them what to do.” I immediately thought of alternative slogans: “At babe, Forever 21 is literal. At babe, you’re pushed off a yacht into a sea of glittery quicksand on your 29th birthday.”
The elder perused my resume with British disappointment. “You graduated from NYU, and all you’ve done since is…comedy?”
“I also work at a bar. For money.”
Surprise! I didn’t get the job. The video I made was a man-in-the-street series where I asked men questions about the female anatomy, orgasms, and birth control. Of course, most of them didn’t know basic answers and hilarity ensued. At one point, I asked a man if women could pee with a tampon in and three of them genuinely had no idea. A few weeks later, the only other man who I saw in the Babe office broke down my video in his rejection email, critiquing my “awkward dancing” as a major turn-off. For girls who don’t give a f*ck, these were boys who chose specific f*cks to give. Still, this happened before the Aziz piece. Few people knew Babe as anything other than a possible spring break porn site.
What if we demanded… like basic human courtesy from men???https://t.co/eDb1CTlcsC
— babe (@babedotnet) February 10, 2019
When the Aziz Ansari story broke, I was biased at first in my negative critique. Katie Way, the writer of the Aziz story, interjected Ansari’s victim’s account with first-person quips about outfits and wine preferences as if they were in a slumber party game of Truth or Dare. In Way’s defense, a slumber party was the tone of Babe. Yet, the article made the victim seem fickle and shallow—the opposite of what the #MeToo movement is about. What happened to this woman, “Grace,” was not sexual assault, but it also wasn’t simply a bad date, making this gray-area encounter worthy of publication. Babe’s Aziz piece undoubtedly sparked a conversation about what women are programmed to accept as normal in dating culture. But, they could’ve done better. When an email from Way to HLN anchor Ashleigh Banfield went public, I finally felt like I had dodged a serious bullet by not getting that job.
Banfield disagreed with Babe’s report, and Way responded with an unhinged email reminiscent of a 3am drunk text. She attacked Banfield for her age and appearance calling her a “burgundy lipstick bad highlights second-wave feminist has-been.” It was a wildly immature gift to anyone who believes millennials to be entitled brats who disregard both their actual elders and punctuation.
Empowered by the fact that I was no longer a woman scorned over a job that would’ve lost me over half my current income, I checked to see what videos they had chosen over mine. Immediately, I was bombarded with multiple man-on-the-street style videos of a young woman asking men questions about the female anatomy, orgasms and sex, etc. I don’t think my video pitches were so original that I’m the only person who could’ve thought of them. I do think it’s an interesting coincidence.
At its best, Babe was, and had the potential to be, a good website. But dare I say, it’s sometimes nice to have someone in their forties telling you what to do, babes. Then maybe you could get an HR person to prevent the office elders from hooking up with the interns and junior staffers. If a feminist, liberal-leaning website allegedly controlled by young women couldn’t create a comfortable office environment for young women where only about three men worked there…where is the hope?
I believe that Babe’s ultimate downfall was not the Aziz piece, their horny male bosses, the lack of HR, the line-crossing happy hours, the inexperienced editorial staff or countless THOT content. Babe failed because being young isn’t impressive. Everyone who worked at Babe will eventually age and that “don’t give a f*ck, burn the landscape down” behavior is what the world expects of young people, not a mission statement. Besides, I stand by my awkward dance moves.
Does everyone remember the homeless vet GoFundMe campaign from last year? Good, me neither. Usually, stories described as “heartwarming” don’t appear in my feed because of who I am as a person. But the story that this campaign was actually allegedly run by three scammers who made up every detail, though? Yeah, you better believe I was the target audience for that kind of groundbreaking news.
As someone who is both financially and morally bankrupt, I can’t help but love a good scamming story. This one has it all—the compassion of trifling fools charitable strangers, incriminating texts, and even the alleged scammers turning on each other. Read on for what Vice calls, “another example of how our world is a dark and depressing place,” and what I’m calling a how-to guide for gaming the world of online fundraising. Just kidding! (Or am I?)
The Original GoFundMe
Back in September 2017, Kate McClure started a GoFundMe. Apparently, she’d gotten stranded in Philadelphia, and encountered a homeless veteran named Johnny Bobbitt. She claims that Bobbitt spent his last $20 to buy her gas. McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, decided that “all Johnny one little break,” and with that thought, they started a GoFundMe campaign.
Their initial goal was set at $10,000, but people are such suckers the story got so much media attention that they ended up raising over $400,000. Cute, right? Hah. This is America, people. You gotta know there’s a twist coming. Especially with a hook as wholesome as a homeless vet GoFundMe page.
Johnny Bobbitt’s Lawsuit
In August, the headlines about this started getting weird. Bobbitt, the vet they were allegedly raising money for, turned around and sued McClure and D’Amico. He alleged that they had taken over $200K for themselves. Bobbitt claimed that McClure had initially provided him with food, clothing, and cash. Yet the bulk of the money donated to the GoFundMe campaign never came his way. He was even back on the streets. Bobbitt then alleged that the couple was using those funds as a “personal piggy bank to fund a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford.” The fact that this is precisely how I used my parents’ credit card in college is neither here nor there.
The couple responded to the lawsuit by claiming that they were withholding the remaining funds until Bobbitt—who struggles with drug addiction and has been in and out of rehab several times—got clean. They further claimed to have set up two trusts in Bobbitt’s name, providing him a small salary, retirement funds, and investment funds to be overseen by a financial planner. D’Amico popped off even further, claiming he would rather “burn in front of him” than hand it over, given Bobbitt’s situation. Way harsh, Tai.
He also apparently hoped to get a book deal out of this whole situation. He pitched the title “No Good Deed” for said memoir while the lawsuit was ongoing, to further the whole “white knight being victimized” thing he had going. Unsurprisingly, the trusts they claimed to have established for Bobbitt did not exist.
The Alleged Scam Revealed
Ultimately, Bobbitt’s lawsuit had the exact opposite effect of what he hoped. Not only did news coverage do little beyond painting him as an erratic, ungrateful drug addict, but the subsequent investigation led to this week’s revelation. The entire GoFundMe was allegedly an elaborate scam—and Bobbitt himself was in on it. Prosecutors say that “every shred” of the campaign was a lie. This includes the initial charming anecdote about Bobbitt spending his last $20.
Text message evidence between McClure and her friend proves that less than an hour after the campaign went live, McClure wrote, “Ok, so wait, the gas part is completely made up but the guy isn’t. I had to make something up to make people feel bad.” And that, my friends, is why I don’t give to charity. I’M KIDDING. But always, stay on your toes—evil is real and walks among us.
For those of you saying: “But wait! Who cares if she made up a detail if the guy is real,” I have some further bad news. This was not an innocent-white-lie-to-serve-a-greater-good kind of situation. McClure and D’Amico allegedly had no intention of using the money to help Bobbitt.
In fact, all of the money is now gone. And the couple spent most of it. Some of the purchases that ABC News lists include luxury handbags, a New Year’s trip to Vegas, a BMW, and over $85,000 worth of ATM withdrawals “at or near casinos in Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas.” Yeah, these are not people who started a homeless veteran GoFundMe page in good faith.
When the prosecutors confront them with this evidence:
While Bobbitt’s exact involvement in hatching the scheme is unclear, prosecutors have uncovered a Facebook post he made back in 2012. In this post, he tells a very similar story to the one shared on the GoFundMe page. A woman ran out of gas, he spent his last few dollars to help her, and so on. Interesting.
The Criminal Charges
Back in September, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s office raided McClure and D’Amico’s home. Many of their possessions (including the BMW) were seized. On Wednesday, McClure and D’Amico turned themselves in to prosecutors, they’ve since been released. Bobbitt was arrested later that night on charges of “being a fugitive from justice.” All three are being charged with second-degree theft by deception, as well as conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
According to ABC News, the New Jersey couple is facing five to ten years in prison if convicted. Bobbitt, on the other hand, will be extradited to Burlington County to face his charges. And in a final poetic turn, the couple will appear in court on Christmas Eve.
Others typically view scamming stories like this as a sign of humanity’s decline. But I feel like I already knew that most people are self-serving assholes! So, it doesn’t quite shake me to my core when I find out that one more person shamelessly stole for their own gain. Ultimately, it’s nice to know that a charitably minded GoFundMe page could be effective. But that is, of course, if the story is aw-shucks enough to get its peddlers on Good Morning America (like these three were).
On the other hand, it’s yet another reminder that the internet world is a shady place. It’s all too easy to sell people on outright fabrications. I don’t really have any advice on how to counter that. I just want to make sure we’re all appropriately spooked about the state of the world. And with that, enjoy your weekend.
Are you obsessed with scams, cults, conspiracies, and true crime? Listen to Not Another True Crime Podcast! New episodes drop NOVEMBER 19TH!!
Images: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash; Giphy (4)
The following is an excerpt from our new book, “When’s Happy Hour? Work Hard So You Can Hardly Work”, on sale NOW.
Job environment plays a huge factor in whether it would be a good fit . Say you’re really good at beauty tutorials but you wouldn’t ever want to work in a big gray-carpeted corporate office, then maybe the right route for you is freelance makeup artist. On the other hand, say you need deadlines to work, love brainstorming, and seriously care what people comment on each other’s Instagrams, well then, maybe you should be in media. Let’s discuss popular industries and what it’s like to work in them.
Exactly as The Devil Wears Prada led you to believe this job would be. Even though fashion is starting to be a little more accepting of sizes above subzero, people are still quite focused on appearance. They praise Ashley Graham on Instagram but talk sh*t about her thighs behind her back. This industry is harsh, self-important, and doesn’t really pay that much. Why are people in it? Because they care about seeming cool, or maybe because they actually give a sh*t what Pantone’s color of the year is.
If we learned anything from Silicon Valley, it’s that this world is changing faster than your tampon on a heavy-flow day. This can be highly stressful but if you’re a really skilled developer, coder, or engineer, then this is fine for you. If you’re not that good, you’ll know right away because you won’t get work or you’ll get eaten alive. If you’re a female techie, now’s the time to swing for the fences, as tech companies are needing to even out their ratios
for press purposes because they believe in diversity and being socially conscious, of course.
If you’re personable, outgoing and looking for a bullsh*t job where you get to do very little but have the opportunity to be paid more down the road, find a media job in a a large corporate company. All media companies are competing with one another, so they’re all spending a sh*t ton of money on pointless employee perks like beer on tap, expensive beverages that claim to be healthier than water, and the ability to work on a couch in a different room from your desk. Gasp.
You have to do an incredible amount of bitch work, ass-kissing, and sliding into people’s DMs to move up in this industry. Like, if you even want to write on a show, the amount of coffee you need to retrieve in your career will surpass the amount of alcohol you drank in college. If you really want to be the next Ava DuVernay, though, know that it’s going to be a lot of rejection and disappointment, but it is possible to get there, so keep going.
Rewarding AF. Not financially, though. And the only time that philosophy degree will help you is when you’re discussing Game of Thrones fan theories.
Even though the two are different, we grouped them together because they’re similar in that you have to put in a lot of work and hours—and also money—with very little sleep or salary to make a lot of money at some point very far in the future. Plus, you have to be really into reading to succeed in either field.
You’ll have to deal with a lot of bros and douchebags to be in this industry. Everyone talks really fast and assumes you know what they’re talking about when they use terms like EBIDTA and vested equity. Couldn’t care less about changing interest rates? Then don’t go into finance.
All The Other Sh*t, Like Agriculture
Honestly, this industry is the hardest to write about because we know very little about it. Aleen went to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, yet still, not much info from us. Farmers have one of the most important jobs in the country, and do you know what they have to rely on? The weather. That’s right, the weather. And then they have to deal with these huge corporations forcing them to accept buy-outs or kicking them off their land.
Yes, we left out a lot of different industries because, you know what, there are way too f*cking many, and you know what else? You’ll get over it.
Want more amazing career advice? Order our new book, you won’t regret it.
Images: Giphy (5)
It’s been a weird summer. Trump keeps interrupting The Bachelorette, the heat wave broke everyone’s spirits, and all our least fave baby celeb couples are getting engaged. And by “baby,” I mean that both the celebs themselves and the actual relationships are very, very young. First we had Ariana Grande (25) and Pete Davidson (24), and now we have Justin Bieber (24), and Hailey Baldwin (21). Yes, TWENTY-ONE. I too spat out my coffee upon reading that. Doesn’t that just seem awfully young to ruin your life in such a permanent way make such a long-term decision? While Justin and Hailey have had an on-off thing for years, neither couple was publicly together earlier than, say, May. All of which begs the question: why the rush? Is this a hot new celeb trend we’ll all hate for a year and then emulate forever? WTF is really going on? Here are some theories.
They’re Being Massive Trolls
This is one of my preferred theories, though probably unlikely. After decades of the media zooming in on left hands and perceived “bumps,” it’d be really fun if these couples were just trolling the shit out of all of us. If nothing else, it would explain why they keep describing the news as “lit.” I think it’s fair to say that if there’s even a small chance your wedding vows will contain that word, you’re too young to get married. So, there’s a small chance this is a wildly self-aware and meta interpretation of what the media expects of today’s just-past-teen celeb. Then again, “Justin Bieber” and “self-aware” aren’t used in the same sentence much. Which brings me to my next theory…
They Wanted To Change The Conversation
At this point, I feel we should address that in both couples there is a More Famous and Less Famous party. I bet you anything that Google searches for “who is Pete Davidson” and “who is Hailey Baldwin” have both skyrocketed this June. Not that either party is actually unknown, mind you—just less of a household name. Justin and Ariana, the slightly more famous, are both pop stars who the public has some trouble taking seriously. Ariana because she profited off a “sexy baby” aesthetic for some time, Justin for…darker reasons. I don’t need to remind you. However, the public is also consistently obsessed with their music, so they have a ton of star power. It’s possible that these engagements just came about as mutually beneficial arrangements. The Less Famous parties get a boost in name recognition, and the More Famous parties get an image boost by linking themselves to someone the public doesn’t yet openly mock.
They’re Working With An Apocalypse Mentality
You know how you feel when you open your email and we’re on the verge of war with North Korea? Or Roe v. Wade is about to be overturned? Or children are being held in cages? You know, the gut-wrenching feeling you’ve been getting every day for months on end? Well, if celebs are indeed #justlikeus, maybe they aren’t quite so immune to that, either. The general “the world could end at any moment so let’s go all-out now” feeling. If I were a twentysomething celebrity, I’d be buying million-dollar diamonds and holding my loved ones close too. Seriously though, uncertain times do breed a lot of sudden-onset heavy relationships. Think back to your senior spring: how many couples you’d expected to last a week suddenly pledged their undying loyalty to each other? When the outside world is frightening, it helps to have a constant.
They’re Really Just In Love
Yeah, this is totally possible. I’m not saying they AREN’T in love, I’m just saying that alone isn’t quite enough to explain the hastiness of these decisions. Jupiter has also been in retrograde since March, which I’m low-key convinced played a major role. But you don’t see me going around calling it the ONLY reason.
Justin Would Dump Hailey In A Second If Selena Called
Does this have anything to do with theories about too-soon engagements? Nope, it’s just one of my more firmly held beliefs and I have nowhere else to put it. When it comes to Biebs, nothing will convince me he did this for any other reason than to post an IG story of Hailey’s ring and obsessively check his phone to see if Selena watched it. Selena JUST released a song called “Back to You,” guys. Somehow, somewhere, these two will run towards each other in the rain while this song plays.
So yeah, these celebrity couples aren’t the first to get married after a short period of time. But they’re too young, too insanely quick, and too close together not to note. Who knows, maybe Ariana just opened the floodgates and we’ll be seeing a continuing wave of 24-year-olds tying this knot to people they met at the club last week. Honestly, I can think of worse things.
Images: Giphy (3)
Industry: Advertising. My office could not be more stereotypically “millennial advertising” if we tried. Portland’s latest warehouse loft-turned-office has it all: exposed brick. unfinished floors. open floor plans. a three-legged dog who named Cooper who loves burritos as much as any of the rest of us. Welcome to media, it’s just as glamorous as you were promised.
Bonus: Much like debt-free college and social security, bonuses are a myth perpetuated by baby boomers to make us hate ourselves. No one tell them how well it’s working.
Shit I Pay For
A Typical Day
8:20am – Get into my car and notice that my gas light is on. How long has it been on? Only God knows. Immediately decide that this is a problem for later me to deal with.
File this one under: devastating self-owns. This week, during a segment made to talk about the media and “fake news” (sidebar: when can we retire the term “fake news”? Can it be now? Can it be yesterday?) our trusted friends at Fox accidentally showed a graphic live on air that made it seem like Fox News is the least trusted network in news. Wonder what they could have possibly done to earn that distinction.
Lol. This is like posting an Insta pic where your friend looks good and you look bad – a horrible error, to be sure. Once “Media Buzz” host Howard Kurtz realized what the graphic said he ordered it taken down, claiming that the graphic was actually supposed to be used at a later part of the show. You know, the part where the show is over and your TV is off. According to Kurtz, what he meant to show was a Monmouth University poll about whether the media regularly or occasionally posts fake news. Oops! Again, this is like going on Insta to post a cute selfie and then accidentally posting the toe fungus pic you sent to your doctor instead.
(We all send toe fungus pics to our doctors, right?)
Kurtz is now doing what Fox News hosts do best and slamming the media on what he says is “incorrect” reporting on the above graphic. According to him, the graphic is meant to show what percentage of people trust the each network compared to President Trump, and not to each other. Monmouth found that 30% of people trust Fox more than they trust President Trump, 20% say they trust the president more than Fox, and 37% say they trust both equally. Even still, putting up the poll with no context was what we in the media biz call “a bad look.”
The bad news: I heard this on Fox News so like, can you even trust it?
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We’ve all been in a long-term, possibly too codependent relationship with the media, and with that comes plenty of ups and downs. There are times that we feel like the media is being a fake friend, spreading
alternative facts rumors, and sometimes, rarely, they tell you what is going on in the owlrd. Since the 2016 Election we’ve def had a “it’s complicated” status when it comes to which media sources to trust, but after you hear about what the conservative leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group has been up to, you may change your status to “we’re on a break.” This Sinclair Brodcasting video has been making it’s way around the internet, which is millennial speak for, “you have to watch.”
WTF is Sinclair Broadcast Group?
The Sinclair Broadcast Group owns more than 190 TV stations across the country, more than any other media company. Sinclair is also seeking to acquire dozens more by purchasing Tribune Media, which is already a huge conglomerate on its own. The group has been conservative Trump supporters, going as far as making local stations run right-wing commentary segments by former Trump advisers. The network has stations across America, but what’s harder to see is the possible influence their messaging has had on people watching their local news.
WTF Did They Do?
Ok so Sinclair had a bunch of their network anchors read a scripted speech warning of fake news, the sites that post this news, and finished the dialogue by saying “this is extremely dangerous to our democracy.” Now that may not seem alarming at first, but Timothy Burke at Deadspin collected the video footage and combined it into a single video of the clips (below). It seriously straight out of an episode of Black Mirror. And of course to make matters worse Trump had to weigh in via Twitter.
If you’ve not yet seen the Sinclair Broadcasting propaganda video from @Deadspin, this should sufficiently creep you out. pic.twitter.com/M4LNhb6CQF
— James Michael Sama (@JamesMSama) April 2, 2018
Why TF Should You Care?
Besides from a total break down of the fourth estate and press being able to hold government accountable for its actions, you care because mainstream media is now being used like wartime propaganda. Of course different outlets have always had bias, but this network has been calling out other networks on fake news and inaccurate reporting, but then goes and has their anchors read a single message that may not reflect the individual stations stance. Now when you’re watching even your local news station you have to wonder if the messaging is meant to brainwash influence your opinions on government. We had a huge issue with this when Russia was the one behind it on FaceBook, so we should hold Sinclair accountable for using similar tactics.
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