Are you buying it?

The girl on my Instagram story was eating a special brand of crackers, and I was intrigued—not so much by the crackers, but by her toned physique and apparently charmed existence. On my next trip to the grocery store, I got a box of these crackers for myself. And when I ripped open the package to try them, I had to admit they were good … but they didn’t give me the girl’s “perfect” life.

Because really, on some level, that’s why I’d bought the crackers: I wanted to believe that following in that girl’s footsteps might get me just a little more of what she had—and what I didn’t. Of course, I knew rationally that eating the same food as some girl on social media wasn’t going to give me the life I was imagining. Yet the places inside me that felt lacking helped convince me that if I could just be a little more like her, I might finally feel good about myself.

Since the cracker incident, it’s been helpful for me to understand what social media influencers are really selling. At their best, it may be stuff they genuinely think will help us improve our lives. But buried somewhere in almost every influencer’s sales pitch is also this message: “You’re missing something essential.” But that essential thing isn’t really the item or lifestyle choice they’re promoting; on the most fundamental level, it’s our own wholeness.

January 27, 2020

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