Are Social Media Superstars Frauds, Or Victims of the Venomous Blue Tick?
So I’ve tried twice to be gifted the blue tick, and was rejected. After the second “Hell No!” I decided never to ask permission to validate my worth, because it’s ludicrous to buy into the notion that you have to be ordained by the priesthood of social media, before your views can be endorsed.
In the past few weeks, Twitter has become a basin of hellish fodder, as activated issues stemming from the disorder of things when all hell breaks loose, has revealed the dark side of being an influencer with a massive platform — that’s built on the admiring gaze of followers — who only want consistency and predictability in exchange for their unwavering loyalty.
Twitter is my feeding ground — it’s where I love to play, and the fun is elevated by the ability to garner enough attention for what I do, without the avalanche of judgment and barrage of insults that always hit below the belt.
It’s also an observatory center, that permits me to freely take notes, as I witness how verified folks endure the stormy weather patterns, that often greet daily activities.
At first, my station on the sidelines, was merely to prepare for the day when the blue tick would become my reality, but since that day will never come, it’s all about empathy for those constantly warring faceless enemies, and the gratitude that I escaped such a fate.
Social media has always posed a challenge for me, due to my reluctance to be “social” with an agenda. I’m wedded to the organic connections that are funneled through face-to-face encounters that seal a level of trust that can’t be easily thwarted by the snappiness of clicks.
The major issue with crowded platforms is the ease with which we can toss away former alliances that were either built through viral retweets or the now rarified form of intimacy, that deserves more than the passive/aggressive stance as the sign of abrupt dismissal.
In the past few weeks, I tried in vain to take a much-needed break from Twitter, as I found myself front and center in a battle that I didn’t even instigate.
It all began with the scandalous takedown of a beloved social media superstar, who wrote a book about the etiquette of being authentic, and garnered an audience of Black women who were sold on her particular brand of delivery.
An ill-fated tweet and the swift response to it, unleashed a firestorm that galvanized pretty much everything that followers believed to be true. Turns out that the art of engagement doesn’t have to be embedded in presenting your “authentic” self, as long as your affinity for performance art is intact.
And so the season for Black Americans vs. Africans was in full bloom, as it became clear that influencers have a tendency to play the role they’ve selected for fame and blue ticks, without the inherent level of respect for the admirers who are banking on the fact that you’re genuinely invested in the culture — that gifted your prominent status.
At first the dragging was hard to watch — almost like having a front row seat to a firing squad that never ends, even after you’ve been splattered with body parts and reddish fluid.
But ironically, the ceremonious event birthed something even more tragic.
I can attest to the fact that friendships made offline, were destroyed online, as the hashtag #DOS or #DescendantsofSlaves or #AmericanDOS began to trend as a reaction to the appalling evidence of how an African in America allegedly mocked her dedicated audience — using the same portal that made her a star.
Suddenly, those who share her heritage in any form, are deemed the enemy, even if they never participated in the falsehood of presentation or allyship. And the online riots have gotten so intense that Nigerian-Americans are being assembled at the chopping block — for a crime that was committed by an unrelated individual who happens to call our country — home.
Her downfall undoubtedly alerted users of the specific dangers of online fame, especially when your anointment has been utilized as a veil to present what the crowd yearns for, when privately, there’s a vastly different way of thinking that provides the engine of enlightenment.
The battle of Black and Blacker, still wages on, and the stakes are higher with casting announcements and the broader view that those who can’t claim a certain history, need to make way for homegrown versions, who were born for the limelight that’s currently being hacked.
In the midst of this very violent row, is another storm that has made landfall, and this time it’s big!
It involves the management of the hip-hop exhibit at the National African American History and Culture Museum, under the direction of Timothy Anne Burnside, who happens to be a White woman.
I won’t lie that when the topic started trending, I was immediately triggered by the audacity of a White woman, manning a space that doesn’t warrant her input.
It goes back to the days when a struggling writer had to contend with the fact that her era wasn’t flexible enough to recognize the vitality of diversity, so she was shit out of luck. There’s also the never-ending reminder of how White women will always matter in every genre of life.
White women don’t have to fight to be heard, or tread lightly when entering spaces that are specific to a culture, because they have the entire world at their finger tips. All they have to do is enhance their aesthetic to fit the area of their choice, and the backing of the men who serve as guard dogs — only helps to validate their entry.
I resent the fact that the Kardashian/Jenner women, can effortlessly boost their features in a bid to capture well-positioned Black men, who want White women that are Black enough for their weakened mindset.
I resent the fact that Iggy Azalea is a more respected in the rap world, based on her willingness to dilute the Whiteness of Amethyst Amelia Kelly, in favor of a moniker and inflated body parts, that booted the legitimacy of Azealia Banks.
I resent the atrocity of the art world, and how it only admits the blueprint of White privilege as it pertains to stolen treasures, and how centuries after colonialism left invaded territories straddled by the aftermath of brutality, and epic abuse, there is still a refusal to reject the status quo by re-writing the wrongs and implementing justice.
When we still have White people in illustrious domaines that cater mostly to White people, explaining why they can’t give up the prized evidence — uprooted from the glass cases of far away kingdoms that they historically fucked over with greed and supremacy — that’s when all bets are off.
My irritation about the hiring of a White woman to oversee a genre that she’s knowledgeable about because she could afford the privilege — is a symptom of exhaustion that comes from never being able to amass the limitless possibilities of my White counterparts.
There’s also the bitter truth of how Black men have played a significant role in creating the gateway for White women, in ways that leave Black women who look Black — in the swirling dust.
The debate spurned a realization that those with the symbol of verification, aren’t necessarily the ones that will assuage your heated dispositions, every time you look to them for guidance and wisdom.
The hardest lesson to learn is delivered during a crisis, when you’re hit with the truth of how social media stages a belief system that only thrives when you’re blindly being led by verifications — that only light up when the sacrifice is minimal.
When the query hits too close to home, the agreement shifts into revised territory without permission.
This is by no means an attempt to rail on the notables of social media, but rather a method of exposure, to reveal how techies masterminded the avenue of a catastrophic climate.
The online verification process was initially reserved as a recommended option for A-listers, who were braving the torrential forecast, that accompanies the decision to join the club.
Also, people have a lot of time on their hands these days, and this increases the likelihood that bogus accounts will be parading as the real thing. And so the best way to battle the epidemic is to curate pages that bear the only symbol that matters.
Six years later, and the requirements have been edited to include those who represent the trend of the moment. And if you’re able to devise newly-minted hashtags that take off like a surefire rocket — then you can enjoy the celebrity lifestyle that initiates your worthiness.
Everyone wants to be aligned with a winner, and so your numbers go all the way up, and suddenly you’re the voice of a movement.
Platforms are privy to the power of “woke” Millennials and the slightly older contenders who got lucky. It can’t just be about celebs who have managed enviable careers, it has to now include the masters of activism or those who are experts at performing for clicks.
The competitors vying for blue check marks are fiercely fighting for approved recognition, and you can’t assume that the work that was done back when labor was valued, will automatically make you a shoo-in, just ask, Grammy-nominated singer and hit-maker, Freddie Jackson.
But is it really “for the kids?” or is the honor systematically given to those who can activate Moments with their special brand of awareness, that can give the business of systemic injustice the algorithms of victory.
Are social media superstars fraudulent in activity or unfortunate victims of the venomous tick?
Maybe a combination of both with more emphasis on the curse of the blue symbol.
When I applied to be verified, the process was awkward because the questions that needed to be answered convinced me that I was out of my league. I felt I needed the tick in order to convince potential employers of my viability as a popular blogger who needed no introduction.
But when my application was denied, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief, because I knew I wasn’t built for the responsibilities that come with that level of fame and adulation. I was certain that I wasn’t capable of leading the charge under the contract of never deviating from the rulebook without consent.
I knew that the blue tick represents infallibility, and the bankability that you will never be in the position of having to apologize for being human under the duress of setup accounts — that are geared to run you into the ground, and the plethora of threads that are branded for your imminent disposal.
We were sold on the lie of how regular people can seamlessly become the champions of our heart, without question, and with the authority of a goddamn symbol, and the gathering endorsers who encourage the desire to add ourselves to the sea of believers.
But, it doesn’t take long for our senses to be riled by the reality of imperfections, and how we can’t blame the ones who tried but failed to live up to unrealistic expectations.
Is it worth it to be bitten by the tick of our discontent, or is it reasonable to dispense with the worship sessions, and go back to simply relying on the durable quotient of personalized durability, and how that practice saves us from the betrayal of misplaced emotions that already have a home — within us.
Maybe it’s time for a longterm cure, and the good news is that we don’t have to beg for it.
We just have to reactivate our humanness.