The Dark Side of Social Media Influence

Manipulation and faking perfection have become prevalent on social media for the sake of marketing and selling programs and products. I’m opening the kimono on the coaching industry, network marketing, and personal brands.

This post has been bubbling up within me for quite some time. Truthfully, I held back because I thought what I’m about to share was just something that I personally needed to work through. I told myself clearly I’m the one getting triggered! I was also scared to say this publicly for fear of what “they” might say and think. And finally, I held back because I was ashamed. It’s hard to admit, what I’m opening the kimono on is something that in the past, I too have participated in.

However, on an almost daily basis I hear from women who are struggling with shame and not good enoughness because, whether they consciously know it or not, they feel like they can’t measure up to the superhuman perfection they see across social media. I realized that by bringing light to what is really going on, I could help release the pressure on all of us, even influencers who are orchestrating it because they are operating in fear just as much as anyone (more on that in a minute). If what they are doing stops working, then they will have to try a different approach. Hopefully one that is more real, which in the long run is what is going to serve all of us best anyway.

If you have ever felt triggered by social media because images or messages have made you feel bad about yourself, this is for you.

Open up your social media and within a few scrolls you will most likely see a variety of images and quote tiles about finding your purpose. Most of the people posting them say their mission is to live a life of service, give back, and make the world better. On the surface, this may seem great. I’d much rather see that than a Facebook feed of negativity! Thank goodness there are people that have Mother Theresa type visions for themselves. How else does positive change happen but with those brave individuals who are willing to go first and stand up for what they believe in? However, in some cases these posts suggest that this is something that you should do too. Which is also great... if you want that. But what if you don’t?

If you scroll a little further, you will also probably see images of people who have what seem like perfect lives filled with great relationships, the perfect body, happiness, and many material things. Fab! Go you! Because, why not celebrate?! I love seeing people thriving in their lives. However, the caption on some of these photos sometimes suggests that in order to achieve such blessings, they had to work really hard with a “no pain no gain” mentality. Almost as if they feel they need to justify their lush life.

So far you might think, what’s the big deal? Just because that is their way of living and their opinion, why let that affect you? Good point. In fact, that is what I normally would say. However, I’ve noticed something that maybe you have noticed too. With some influencers, there is an underlying message present. A message that feels... icky. To put it plainly, some influencers are using social media to manipulate you into believing that they have something you don’t and that you need what they have in order to be happy.

Here's the truth: some influencers post images and strategically write posts specifically designed to make you feel bad because if they can make you feel bad enough, you'll give them your money to feel better.

When Finding Your Purpose Became A Marketing Ploy

It’s become quite popular these days to flaunt flashy material things, extravagant vacations, touched up and carefully posed selfies, and what seems like perfect relationships and families. Do you ever wonder how time and time again the same people can consistently snap the most perfect shots of the most perfect moments? It looks as if those shots are effortlessly snapped to capture an incredible moment, however I will tell you from experience, it’s almost a full-time job not only to get the perfect shot but also to be constantly thinking about what might be the perfect picture and also the perfect caption for social media.

As I mentioned, I’m not proud to admit that I have done this too. I’ve fallen victim to this way of showing up because I was taught (and bought into the idea) that pushing people’s jealous button is how to help them finally make the decision to change their life.

You look at any marketing these days, even with big brands and in many cases, you can find this underlying message in some ads that says, “Hey, you… you need this widget or service in order to feel the way you want to feel.” That’s marketing 101. Emotion sells and business is business. The part I want you to know about is that what you see on social media and even what people say sometimes, isn’t real. It’s meant to paint an ideal picture so that you take action and buy what they want you to buy.

There’s a fine line between showing possibility, benefits and potential outcomes, and inspiring people versus hanging a false sense of perfection in people’s faces day after day telling them this is reality.

Want to know more? Head over to my blog to read the 4 major ways that influencers lie on social media, intentional or not, so that you can spot it and not be triggered by it.

Sheila Viers is an emotional health expert, mentor for law of attraction, business coach teaching balance and ease, and advocate of “love heals all”. Learn more about Sheila on her website and follow her on Instagram.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.