Performative Social Media


This essay was written by me, Brandon Nolet, in the context that many people use social media as a place to grandstand, for various reasons.


I don’t know whether it’s the influence or the attention that some crave with social media but certainly there’s something about fame that has become so appealing.

Most have certainly heard about viral moments where someone posts a comical or insightful video/post and all of a sudden they’ve gotten millions upon millions of views, they go on Ellen, they get to meet Conan, and finally they get some sick [brand deal]( that allows them to fly all over the world. This usually happens because companies are so damn good at jumping on someone else’s bandwagon.

How could you not take that bait, though, when you’re a mother of three working two jobs just to make ends meet. The problem is that so many who actually put effort into that attempting to achieve that viral moment aren’t actually that impoverished.

So many are trying so hard to get that next level of fame that they lose sight of the influence that they have. Perhaps it’s not because they sought the influence but because they sought the benefits that kind of influence gives them. The endless amounts of instagram accounts of beautiful men posing atop gorgeous mountainscapes and traveling to extravagant and remote locations is one of the obvious causes of thise craze.

Don’t get me wrong, there are those out there that strive for the influence to be able to do some good in the world. That doesn’t mean though, that there’s a shortage of people who try to use someone else’s platform to get famous.


It’d be one thing if the majority of these influencers or those who follow in their footsteps were people that were acting genuinely. It’s another thing when 95% of it becomes a theatre piece that takes up someone’s entire life. “Hold on everyone, I have to take a picture of the table with our meals on it,” is probably something that one of these people say on the regular.

When I say “these people” I’m not implying that we should “other” them. I’m implying that a lot of them are so far out of our reach that it would be impossible for us to know the reality of their lives without experiencing it for ourselves. It wouldn’t be apparent that their life was actually in shambles unless they pulled the curtain back and revealed what the reality is.

It’s not “YouTuber burnout,” it’s “I can’t keep up this effort anymore while my personal life suffers for the sake of my audience.”


Being an influencer can become even harder when you are in possession of some sort of paranoia or anxiety. You begin to feel alone and trapped while at the same time constantly bombarded with questions and attention.

Because you have so much to lose as an influencer, you feel like you can trust people less and less. You feel more and more like others are just trying to leap-frog you and use your platform for their gain. You feel like people are trying to absorb your riches.

Then tack on the pressure of having to perform for an audience past the time when you were even interested in performing in that way. What if you change your mind down the road and want to become a nurse? What if you no longer want to sing in front of 10,000 people in an arena? What if you just want to live a simple life again?

That just isn’t possible short of moving to another country and never showing your face online again because once you put yourself in the public domain, it becomes very hard to remove yourself from it.


It boggles me as to why anyone would ever want to be famous considering all of this. I get the feeling of struggling when you’re in a shitty situation but fame and fortune will not solve your problems. Ask any of the plethora of celebrities that have committed suicide in the past for any number of reasons related to their fame and fortune.