Celebrifying influencers is not the answer

Diversifying our feeds and holding influencers accountable, decoding emojis, defining and measuring success

Hi friend,

Something that has been bothering me lately has been the silence of Asian influencers when it comes to addressing anti-Asian hate crimes.

What I had posted in my Instagram story:

To put this discrepancy into perspective, major brands from Nike to Tommy Hilfiger have begun addressing #StopAsianHate on their platforms.

While I can write a whole essay about internalized racism and how detrimental it is for both individuals and communities, this points to the larger issue of celebrification in our society. We prop up individuals with a platform to make an impact, only to be disappointed in their lackluster performance and selfishness. (Sound familiar? 🍊🐒)

In our media-obsessive culture, we place so much value on people based on how entertaining they are. Do they make us laugh? Do they make us cry? Do they bring us pleasure?

When it comes to human rights, legislation, and even mindfulness, entertainment only goes so far. We turn to the people who make us laugh to also protect and save us, failing to recognize the people actually doing the real work, whose job is not in the spotlight.

To avoid celebrifying influencers, it starts with putting more attention on people who are tirelessly working to make our lives better each day. Grassroots organizers, nonprofit leaders, community workers, the list goes on…

It’s time we diversified our feeds with more thought leaders, and reduce our dependence on single influencers to guide complex aspects of our lives.

And when people tell us who they are, we’ve got to listen. It’s time to weed out influencers focused solely on commodifying our collective attention for personal gains.

With the rise in influencer marketing in the years to come, I hope there will be tools for everyone to use to better understand the influencers they are supporting. The popularity of tools surrounding corporate transparency potentially indicates that influencer accountability may not too far behind. 🤞

Random startup idea: a website or app that takes social media influencers and generates a social equity score based on how their sponsored brands rank. Brands are scored against websites such as Goods Unite Us, HRC Corporate Index, and Import Yeti, and the final influencer score is a weighted average of all the brands that sponsor them. (If you haven’t used these tools to check out your companies, highly encouraged!)

PS - In light of the recent attacks against Asians in Atlanta, this topic of accountability for our prominent voices is even more important than ever. My heart goes out to all the friends, families, and community members affected by this tragedy.

PSS - I launched a new thing. Check it out: portfoliodesignclub.com


What I’m up to

👉 Doing a powerhouse discussion with other huge Asian American leaders in tech this Thursday, March 18 @ 9p ET “Sharing the Invisibilized Asian American Experience in Tech” Come join!

Clubhouse (for all): Sunday, March 21 w/ Dalia Kinsey “Living Queer & Melanated” (add me @wakuu and I’ll ping you in)

For queer Asians: Sunday, March 21 - Yellow Glitter Sparkes, Gaysian support group

For Asians: Sunday, March 28 - Asian American Healing Space

For queer POC: Tuesday, April 13 - Design Bootcamp: from inspiration to design, how to improve your ideation, collaboration, and time management

Speaking @ New Jersey Institute of Technology: March 31 - Being LGBTQ+ in Tech

Speaking @ University of Washington: April 10 - Designing for Equity


What is free will?

This talk by Sam Harris (44m) is an extremely powerful discussion on free will, why we don’t quite have free will, and how we should re-evaluate how we hold each other accountable.

TLDR: Free will is an illusion (ex: we do not have control over how our cells act or the thoughts that enter our minds, correlation vs. causation paradox: what do we with our body is a correlation), hate is the dissonance between how we expect someone to act vs. how they are really acting, the way we criminalize individuals need to be radically transformed

Decoding emojis

A really interesting guide into understanding emoji use through the TikTok platform. Quite fascinating watching the next generation of teens use these platforms that did not exist when I was growing up.

Measuring success

As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. If you enjoyed this, share or sign up here: mindfulmoments.substack.com

Anything else? You can always hit "reply" to email me directly. 💌

Have a beautiful day!

Metta (loving-kindness),
Steven

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