Thanks to Representative Waters I will never forget this phrase.
I know it was a while back, but give me some slack: I’m a woman who’s been working in IT most of the past 20 years. Don’t think I haven’t been in those meetings a hundred times in my life. chuckle
Something’s been stuck in my craw the past several years and I finally have some words to wrap around it.
I don’t work for free.
I mean, I know that’s not a revelatory statement. We go to work to collect our paycheck and, when we’re lucky, do good things with people whose company we enjoy. That’s not the kind of work I mean.
I’ll give one example: a company whose product I use almost every day used to have a really neat feature where they’d feature a customer using the product and have a small gift card as a reward for being the featured customer of the month. It was clever and creative and people had a lot of fun conjuring up photos for the set and showing off their product collection.
You probably know what’s coming. This was in the pre-Instagram days. Instagram effectively killed that fun feature because hashtags are absolutely a thing, and instead of one person doing fun customer-based marketing, you can have thousands doing that same marketing for free, joyfully.
Look, I’m not as cynical as that sounds. If I were running a business, I would absolutely make the same move. Frankly it’s still a great company, they’re fantastic to their customers, and I still use their product nearly every day. And for a while I tagged some of my Instagram posts to be featured on the website because that was fun for me.
I don’t do that much anymore, not because I like my collection any less. I just feel less performative in my enjoyment of it. It’s so distracting and kind of gross to read a lovely post about an outfit choice or experience and then have twenty brand hashtags at the end of it. Sort of like those bullshit soap commercials where they commodified self worth and the lack thereof.
Turns out I enjoy things and experiences more when I don’t give a shit how they look on the Gram.
Not only that - and this is the real point - putting together extra curated Instagram posts is WORK. Work framing and composing and promoting and tagging and all of that stuff. And it’s work that I bet a ton of people who are not “influencers” (what the fuck ever that means) are doing for free for huge ass brands that don’t pay for the amount of marketing they get off it.
Also? I feel like there’s another post/rant coming about the value of just being yourself in a world that wants to hashtag, quantify, and market you.