Virtual Influencers

So here’s a thing. Well, sort of a thing. Virtual Influencers:


Computer-generated models are undergoing a transformation from niche branded avatars to relatable and inspiring influencers. Leading this movement is Lil Miquela, a digital simulation who rose to fame in April 2016 due to intrigue around whether she is an art project or a marketing stunt.

This phenomena has been aching to be born for some time. It’s been The Next Big Thing since the 1980s at least, but, unless you count Mickey Mouse and cartoons (and I can’t really think of any reason why you shouldn’t count them) the whole thing has usually ended up falling short of expectations and leaving us with mere human influencers.

Except, of course, for The Noid and Chuck E. Cheese and whole host of other corporate mascots. Hell, we even have an imaginary corporate mascot for president. That’s right. I’m just going to assume that Donald Trump is some sort of haywire computer program produced by late capitalism until we seen some actual evidence of the creature’s humanity. Until then, he looks, sounds and acts pretty fucking phony to me.

The trend does have its detractors. Virtual Influencers Lead to Virtual Inuthenticity:

The root of what makes influencer marketing impactful is authenticity. It’s the philosophy that influencers have generated a following and credibility as tastemakers and trend-spotters by immersing themselves in their field of expertise. They’ve tried many products, spoken to experts, and are providing their audience with curated recommendations that they can stand behind.

Most of the problems people have with this seem rooted in “authenticity.” Seems odd, since the whole thing is about leveraging relatability to increase sales. What’s so fucking authentic about that? If you ask me, the problem isn’t the virtual part, it’s the influencing part. Specifically, influence towards what? Just buying more shit, mainly.

It’s not the virtual that’s demhumanizing, its the turning people and all the relationships between them into sales pitches. We shouldn’t be surprised that a society of used car salesmen is run by them.


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