• Style

    It’s Not That Sim­ple

    20 October 2015

    Bring­ing to the fore­front eth­i­cal issues sur­round­ing com­mis­sioned post­ing, its impinge­ment on cre­ativ­i­ty and the detri­men­tal effects of a mate­ri­al­is­tic approach to con­tent-cre­ation.

    A com­mon mis­con­cep­tion of blog­ging has been increas­ing­ly per­va­sive in the rise of plat­forms like Insta­gram and YouTube where brands are engag­ing influ­encers to curate con­tent to raise brand aware­ness and utilise the pow­er­ful notion of word of mouth. As the influencer’s audi­ence grows, so do the oppor­tu­ni­ties that flow as part and par­cel of this broad­er net­work and odd phe­nom­e­non of social media. Most of the time brands are will­ing to send prod­ucts (with or with­out com­mis­sion) to influ­encers to adver­tise their prod­ucts and stip­u­late cer­tain guide­lines regard­ing when they want the pho­tos pub­lished or how they want the pho­tos pre­sent­ed. Many read­ers that lie on the receiv­ing end of this brand and influ­encer col­lab­o­ra­tive scheme are now see­ing the inher­ent eth­i­cal con­cerns asso­ci­at­ed with influ­encers being paid to curate con­tent that may, to an extent, have a sense of dis­con­nec­tion to the creator’s per­son­al aes­thet­ic. It has the effect of accen­tu­at­ing the lack of artis­tic hon­esty preva­lent in this nov­el are­na and, quite iron­i­cal­ly, under­min­ing the influencer’s amount of influ­ence.

    So where can the line be drawn, or should there be no sur­face on which the line can be drawn in the first place?

    It’s fair­ly com­mon now to see lit­tle #ad hash­tags or dis­claimers at the bot­tom of posts claim­ing the valid­i­ty of the influencer’s opin­ions on the prod­ucts sim­ply by virtue of them say­ing so, even though they’re being paid to review the prod­uct. It’s an entire­ly unchar­tered field where the dis­tinc­tion between cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful con­tent (sim­ply because the indi­vid­ual has a pas­sion to) and the busi­ness-ori­ent­ed notion of com­mis­sioned work (where these pow­er­ful influ­encers are under the thumb of big brands to say what peo­ple want to hear, e.g. ‘I love these shoes; buy them’) is entire­ly blurred. It’s indica­tive of a shift in mind­set that had not arisen back when Insta­gram wasn’t what it was now. There is now a cer­tain dis­trust asso­ci­at­ed with see­ing con­tent on one’s Insta­gram feed where a sin­gle thought lingers at the back of one’s mind, ‘are they being paid to say this?’ It’s that con­stant reas­sur­ance of artis­tic integri­ty and loy­al­ty to one’s per­son­al brand that pro­vokes the ‘don’t treat me like I’m dumb’ response that has accu­mu­lat­ed in the numer­ous ‘I love this bag’ posts that have flood­ed one’s news­feed for the past few months. Peo­ple are intel­li­gent and mar­ket­ing schemes need to evolve from mere­ly util­is­ing net­work­ing influ­ence to pro­mote aware­ness, and con­sid­er under­ly­ing prob­lems that are weak­en­ing the fab­ric and struc­ture upon which this social media phe­nom­e­non is built.

    This isn’t to say that con­tent cre­ators shouldn’t be com­pen­sat­ed for their cre­ative process or labour in curat­ing con­tent (bless Shi­ni, who did a dis­man­tling 12 plus hour shoot yes­ter­day). Notwith­stand­ing the fact that I believe strong­ly artists should receive what they deserve, there is now a ten­den­cy to jump onto band­wag­ons for the sake of ben­e­fits rather than the under­ly­ing dri­ving force that has main­tained the careers of so many, evi­denced by fac­tors such as longevi­ty and out­reach. It’s the often glossed over com­po­nents, such as an authen­tic pas­sion for some­thing, which are the most cru­cial to cre­ative work. It takes more than just a #pro­mo4pro­mo to get your­self out there and para­dox­i­cal­ly, works that are cher­ished the most are often unno­ticed, and those that are spon­ta­neous and unplanned end up speak­ing to thou­sands of souls. So as good as it is to be strate­gic (espe­cial­ly in the busi­ness of blog­ging where com­pet­i­tive­ness has, to an extent, dis­placed the idea of par­tak­ing in a com­mu­ni­ty of co-inspir­ing) it’s vital to be ground­ed by thing that makes you tick and be remind­ed of the rea­son every­thing start­ed in the first place, and that very thing should nev­er be mon­ey.


    Lars­son and Jen­nings watch
    Muji shirt

    Shot by yours tru­ly and my tri­pod in the 35 plus degree cel­sius heat (if that’s not ded­i­ca­tion, I don’t know what is).

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    • Beau­ty Fol­low­er
    • ok you, thank you SO much for com­ment­ing on my blog & lead­ing me to yours because as soon as I clicked on your page I became obsessed. Your site is so aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing! Then pho­tog­ra­phy, your words, your sim­plic­i­ty; I love it all! Also, I agree with every­thing you are say­ing in this post, I always can’t help but think is some­one being paid to say this, do they real­ly even like it? Of course I don’t think of every­one like that, but some peo­ple, yes, glad you were able to put that in such great detail with­in this post. Can’t wait to con­tin­ue to fol­low along. brb, while i go fol­low you on every­thing!


    • Very refresh­ing­ly hon­est. Many tend to fall flat in the sup­posed excit­ing wurl of brand recog­ni­tion, but you exe­cute it well as what your advo­cate is fit­ting to your aes­thet­ic. I think as long as a con­tent-cre­ator is first­ly inter­est­ed in col­lab­o­rat­ing — not just due to the ben­e­fits — then they should be allowed to do what they want. 🙂

    • So true!

    • Loved the sim­plic­i­ty envolved in this post


    • fix­at­ed­faiyaz

      Very inter­est­ing read. It’s nice to see blog­gers voic­ing out their opin­ions on such mat­ters rather than turn­ing a blind eye.

      xx Fai

    • You are the only male blog­ger that I fol­low. Very true about este­htic. You have one and that’s what attract­ed me to your plat­form. I would say 80% of blog­gers I used to fol­low has turned into adver­tis­ing plat­forms which slow­ly and sure­ly made them lose their blog iden­ti­ty, espe­cial­ly here in Malaysia. Any­ways, con­tin­ue cre­at­ing con­tents because I am always wait­ing like a giraffe 🙂

      Real Life Nerd // http://www.vivienekok.blogspot.com

    • This is the most hon­est & true post I’ve ever read sur­round­ing this top­ic and it’s extreme­ly refresh­ing! But I also love your del­i­cate approach towards it.. Some blogs I’ve been fol­low­ing for a while, it seems as their blog goes fur­ther, so does the amount of paid for posts they pro­duce, to the extent that almost every one is paid for! It’s hard to know who to trust & who’s just in it for the mon­ey. Also I love your blog & your pho­tog­ra­phy! I did laugh a lit­tle at the last com­ment, true ded­i­ca­tion!! Great post 🙂


    • As every­one keeps say­ing, your hon­esty is appre­ci­at­ed. And I think it’s the only thing that will stand the test of time — espe­cial­ly in blog­ging.