Social media has swept across our generation like a wildfire, with drastic negative and positive impacts. We all know about the people who use social media as a face to be hateful and spread anger, but what about the people who deliberately choose to make the best out of our social media-led culture?
Looking at the way one uses social media has become essential when examining societal happiness. People are less happy when they depend on social media to define their worth and to assign value to things that matter in life through the eyes of people liking and commenting on a screen.
However, some people are looking at social media and using it to boost their goals and values, rewriting how social media impacts their lives. There are two people on campus that I spoke with to gain an understanding on how they view social media and why they put themselves out there in the scary realm of social media to express themselves.
Chloe La Lumia is a freshman this year, studying pre-nursing with the hopes of becoming a midwife. She struggled for a long time to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She’s grown up in an atmosphere made up of women, so “women supporting women” is important to her and drives both her career goals and the goals she has for her social media platforms.
La Lumia’s Instagram bio reads, “college student trying to make things happen.” so what is she trying to make happen?
Since she was young, La Lumia has looked up to influencers. Growing up, she watched Youtubers and followed creators on Instagram. Their success propelled her to want to do the same.
But she made a point to specify that she looks up to influencers, not celebrities because she considers them to be different.
La Lumia’s definition of “influencer” is someone whose platform is not worldwide, and their emergence into popularity is small and on a gradual slope, versus celebrities, who have one hit and reach the top in an uncontrollable wave. She likes the appeal of “influencers” because they determine their growth rate by releasing their content when they want and must work to self-publicize.
She currently posts lifestyle and fashion content on Instagram, but when she realized the platform was being used to give others a voice, she decided to angle her content to appeal to a wider range of people.
Then, during quarantine, she launched her Youtube channel, posting “Day in the Life” and “Get Ready with Me” videos. When she entered Queens, she posted about moving into her dorm.
La Lumia’s goal as a creator is to “make things happen,” saying she wants to “one day, have a platform or some sort of social media presence to make people notice me, so that I can bring attention to other things.” She mentions causes and social issues that are important to her, like South African poverty and small community-based projects with potential to grow.
“I feel like I can do more than be the normal college student and be the person that goes to high school, goes to college, and gets a job,” La Lumia says. “I want there to be something else for me, and there can be something else for everyone.”
La Lumia hopes her goals with her social media inspire other people who knew her in college and high school to say, “‘I knew her, and now look at what she is doing,’” and take her journey as inspiration for their own lives. In this way, she strives to be like the influencers that she grew up watching.
However, the end goal for La Lumia is not to just be an influencer. If being an influencer will guide her to the life that she wants to live, where she can travel, explore and bring attention to her values, she would love that. But, at the same time, she thinks there are other ways those goals could be met without this platform.
“I will take it in any way I can,” she says.
Her goals to live the life she dreams of, putting herself out there unapologetically, and influencing others, push her to continue making content.
“I don’t want there to be anything that I look back and say ‘oh I wish I had done that,’ so I am living on a day-to-day basis,” she says.
While La Lumia wants to be an influencer to create a platform that uplifts her ideals and values, Taylor Andorfer has another use for her social media.
Taylor Andorfer is a freshman majoring in business. She wants to study how people have financial success and create a “positive and healthy flow in our economy and society.”
Her take on social media and her goals differs from La Lumia as Andorfer uses her social media to support her personal happiness and business.
“I want to have a healthy relationship with social media,” Andofer says. For her, this means looking at how people are perceived through social media and breaking down the virtual barriers. Her platform of choice is Instagram, and she wants to use her platform to allow people to see her and get a sense of her values.
Her drive to do this comes from a place of no longer comparing herself to other people but instead trying to present herself as authentically and artistically as possible on social media.
One of the issues Andofer is passionate about is the Black Lives Matter movement and she tries to spread awareness of it through her social media. She emphasizes that she doesn’t speak on behalf of the community, but as someone who is white and privileged while trying to gain a better understanding.
She also makes a point to spread love and positivity on her account, posting things that make her smile.
Andorfer worked at a real estate company for four years, handling their social media accounts. With that experience, promoting an artistic and purposeful Instagram came naturally to her. She uses her platform now as a form of publicizing her most authentic self.
Despite this, Andorfer doesn’t want to be an influencer.
“Influencer is such a title that is a hierarchical term. An influencer sometimes isn’t about influencing anyone; it is about the number of followers you have,” she says. “I don’t think followers matter. It is about the people that understand your mission as a person and follow that and admire it and become better people because of it.”
Since Andorfer is against the term influencer and does not want to be perceived in that light, there’s a different reason she has her platform.
Andorfer owns a sustainable clothing brand, “FyebyDesign,” on DePop which supports Charlotte and Asheville’s homeless communities by raising funds with every sale or leaving the unpurchased clothing to be donated to the people that need it most. The brand has a mission to work against the fast fashion industry, and instead thrift, redesign, paint, embroider and laser clothes. The brand makes its products affordable, yet chic.
Andorfer’s purpose for using Instagram as her platform also comes from the need to market her business. For the Instagram, Andofer plans to promote the clothes as well as teach people how to sew, embroider, make bucket hats and other little helpful DIY’s to update old clothes. There are also plans to create a TikTok with more clothing DIYs.
Andorfer mentions that her motivation to be herself on her page translates into how they handle and promote their business. “If you are authentic to yourself and showing what you value and want to represent, you reach a larger group who genuinely support the cause you are working for,” she says.
From wanting to influence and inspire people, to having the drive to support independent business and values, both girls come from the place of being authentically you. Andorfer left me with this quote, which I would say sums up their goals pretty well:
“I think a fundamental thing that everyone needs to be happy and [to] authentically have relationships with other people is loving yourself first. By loving, accepting, and knowing yourself so well, it allows you to put out a virtual presence that represents what your essence is.”
Chloe La Lumia