You are probably already aware of how easy it is to present a fake self on social media. MTV made an entire show out of “catfishing” someone. But, rarely do we reward fakeness… until today. One of the world’s first Artificial Influencers is now a highly sought after marketing product – proving that despite being completely fake, the impact is real.
If you thought this world wasn’t crazy enough, strap on your seatbelt because it’s about to get even more absurd.
THE Artificial Influencer
She’s a 19-year-old fashion model and singer, with a Brazilian background. In a matter of two years, she’s gained over a million followers, modeled the clothes of some of the highest fashion brands, and just raised $6 million to keep it up.
But, she’s not really a “she” at all.
Miquela Sousa, better known as Lil Miquela, is a computer-generated teenager and now the world’s most successful Artificial Influencer.
Born to the parents of Photoshop and a little creativity, Lil Miquela has taken over conversations about what it means to be real on social media.
Everyone has a little bit of artificial-ness when it comes to presenting our best, sometimes false, selves online. But, not quite to the extreme of Lil Miquela.
The only real thing about Lil Miquela is the team of creatives behind her – the robotics startup known as Brud. Caught up in a mix of fantasy and delusion, Brud tells a story of how they saved Lil Miquela from Cain Intelligence – a firm creating robots as sex objects.
And while the story is probably false, the message they are spreading has bits of truth.
A Positive Spark?
For one, the fashion industry makes a living on the human form. And they’ve routinely put the “sexy” on pedestals while ignoring the “unsexy”. In many ways, they mold what is the acceptable body form.
Meanwhile, half the celebrity pictures out there in the world are unattainable without professional Photoshoppers. This is extremely toxic for all those young girls and boys that look at the stars and think “that’s the right body type and mine is wrong”.
In theory, an Artificial Influencer like Lil Miquela could turn the social influence industry on its head. We all know Miquela is not really a person, and therefore, hopefully, people won’t feel shamed by her appearance.
Miquela literally embodies the artificiality that’s overcome the Internet, where something created totally as fantasy can have so much influence. The Brud team has since launched another Artificial Influencer.
One of Brud’s intentions is to “bring about both a more empathetic world and more tolerant future” through the use of these Artificial Influencers. And they have a monumental opportunity to create change.
However, we cannot overlook the fact that in the process Miquela has become a cash crop. And more broadly, a marketers ideal scenario.
An Abundance of Artificiality
Artificial Influencers present a huge potential to corporations and their advertising efforts.
For one, Artificial Influencers are predictable. They do whatever is “asked” of them. They aren’t going to act out crazily. And they don’t have a past history that’ll skew a campaign’s message.
Additionally, they can be grown in-house by a company’s advertising team, thus side-stepping some of the large costs associated with hiring a celebrity.
For these two reasons, we could potentially see a slew of Artificial Influencers pop up in the coming years.
They could be used as figureheads to hide behind polarizing beliefs. Or they could represent momentous change.
Artificial Influencers and their “lives” can literally be created out of thin air with any set of beliefs, looks, or personality that’ll gain a following. And that’s what scares me.
There’s a lot of opportunity in creating these Artificial Influencers. But, the responsibility and consequences are even greater.
Forcing A New You
In navigating the new realms of the digital world, there’s undoubtedly more chances to alter our own identities even create new identities.
A friend’s dad (55 years old) just quit his cushy, high-profile tech job to go back to his high school dreams as a musician. And while most of us won’t make such a drastic change overnight, we still can change bits and pieces of ourselves.
And my message to you comes from Charles Schulz, the legend behind the Peanuts comic strip.
He says, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
No matter your age, there will be people you admire for a certain way they act. Even so much so that you might want to be them.
But, before you go changing aspects of your lifestyle or personality, think about whether or not that change is actually YOU. It’s a tough question that only you can answer.
I believe the pieces that fit will happen easily. Forcing anything new means it probably isn’t YOU.