I used to be one of them. One of those people who raised my eyebrow at yet another social media entrepreneur. One of those people who cracked jokes about the girl with the Instagram boutique and rolled my eyes whenever another one named herself a ‘boss.’ As I reflect on what gave me that mindset, I think it relates to internalizing messages about how ‘it’ gets done.
People will tell you entrepreneurship begins with a business degree. The enormous multinational corporations we all prefer to spend our money at have made capitalism a well-oiled machine. White men continue to line their pockets as the letters after the dollar figure on the Forbes list shift from ‘M’ to ‘B.’ While I rolled my eyes at the woman who had crafted products in her own home we could all ‘easily’ purchase , yet another woman somewhere else in the world lost out on sleep, food, and decent wages so she could supervise machines that pumped out hundreds of thousands of the same product for the cheap.
But then something happened. As I learned more about social media and its revolutionary power for marginalized people, I came to see these women in a new light. Women who saw their Instagram pages not as a place to put up an image of a meal they cooked, but rather a place to put up an image of a meal they cooked with a link to their cookbook so you had to pay for the recipe. Women who saw their Instagram as a place to transform themselves into experts in various niches – beauty, fitness, and even sex. Their high quality images, captions with the latest hashtags, and inspirational memes said “No longer will we participate in our own exploitation or that of others. We are going to make our own way, one hashtag at a time.”
So in the New Year I encourage you to see the woman you follow on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter in a new light too. I extend of course this support to all self-named entrepreneurs that use social media because their labor challenges the way society says success happens. Multinational corporations have constructed barriers between the product and the individual, inflating the price of marketing, production, and distribution so that the average person cannot create a living making and selling what they made with their hands.
Now I can’t just say that this means that you should hand over to just any and everybody for any and everything. Some of the social media entrepreneurship encourages scams whether they be pyramid schemes or someone posing as a PhD in what appears to be pseudoscience. Nevertheless, if you admire the work of someone you follow on social media, choose to give them your coins over the multinational corporation that doesn’t care to support the indie creator. In 2017 don’t undervalue laborers just because you didn’t see it on TV or in magazine. Where we spend our money shows how much we value the labor of those that did the work. Pay them what they deserve.