By Alexa Sy
I hate to admit it, but I am a victim of my generation; I check my Instagram religiously, I Snapchat every meal I eat, every party I attend. My phone is surgically attached to my hand, my laptop is never out of sight, and the loss of a 200-day Snapchat ‘streak’? Oh God, let’s not get into how I’d feel about that.
But if there’s one thing we teenagers are tired of hearing, it’s that social media and pop culture are a “waste of time”—that we should not be concerned with these trivial matters, but rather, focus our efforts on things that may actually “enhance our knowledge.” Okay, so perhaps questioning my self-worth when I don’t reach 100 likes on Facebook is a bit melodramatic, but for most of us, our real interest with social media lies not solely in our obsession to present ourselves in the best light possible (emphasis on the word solely), but in its ability to grant us access into the lives of others, whether those of our own friends or those of our favorite celebrities.
The issue with social media, however, is that it merely captures a snippet of a moment; a carefully selected portion of a larger picture that we choose to present to the world. While it isn’t the worst thing one could do, it certainly comes with its implications. As humans, we are immediately forced to believe that the kind of lives portrayed online is the lives we must strive to attain, that in order for us to look back and say “we made it,” we must have achieved the lifestyle.
Here are several examples.
If you’ve heard of Kim, then you’ve definitely heard of Kylie. Often dubbed as the “new Kim,” the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan has taken pop culture by storm, stepping outside the shadow of her famous family and establishing a name for herself. As a teenager (yes, a teenager!), the 19-year-old is certainly well-versed on the tips and tricks of social media, using it as a means to promote her personal brand (her cosmetics line is tremendously popular) as well as a way to showcase aspects of her exciting life. Having been a loyal follower of hers for years now, I can totally confirm this: Think frequent beach trips to Tulum with her friends, lavish gifts from the alluring boyfriend, and private tours of her sprawling LA estate.
Kim Kardashian West
Whether you love her or loathe her, you cannot deny that Kim Kardashian West is easily one, if not the most powerful force shaping pop culture today. With a collective following of over 150 million, the socialite-businesswoman-pop culture icon has drawn in a massive fanbase from all corners of the globe, captivating them with her larger-than-life persona and extravagant lifestyle. The compelling and carefully crafted “Kim K” brand that she (along with the help of her mother, Kris Jenner) has given her access to just about anything a girl could ever want: charter planes to New York, front row seats at Paris Fashion Week, and a wardrobe abundant in designer names galore.
In stark comparison to his wife and the other personalities on this list, Kanye West has chosen not to influence via social media, but instead, through his artistic contributions to both the fashion and music industry. As a musician, his work has provided inspiration to many of today’s most successful rappers, including 2017 Grammy Winner Chance the Rapper, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Logic, to name a few. As a fashion icon/designer, his unique sense of style has shaped trends among the urban youth, building a massive cult-following consisting of primarily young, fashionable men. Find that hard to believe? His sneaker line with Adidas is often regarded as one of the most coveted collaborations to date.
Doing what you love is great, but let’s get real here: Is it profitable? Ask any artist, and they’ll probably respond with a “no,” but they “don’t do it for the money anyways.” But imagine, what if you could forge a lucrative career out of what you truly love to do? Jay Alvarrez is one of the lucky few who have, and he has done so successfully. His rise to fame began on Instagram as a travel/extreme sports photographer, film-maker, and boyfriend of model, Alexis Ren. Together, the couple would travel to exotic locations around the world, skydiving, surfing, and snowboarding, all while capturing gorgeous images and footage for their Instagram feeds. Since then the pair have split, but Jay’s popularity has continued to soar with his love for both adventure and adrenaline unabated.