If you want to begin to understand Gen Z, let’s get at least one thing straight — they hate perfection. CNN’s Connecting the Dots 2022 report covered how Gen Z are tired of the picture perfect and filtered posts on social media, with 25% reporting that social media is behind their anxiety. 

Years ago, if you scrolled through Instagram, you often came across luxurious hotel rooms, glossy shoots and expensive meals. Today, we’re seeing a distinct shift away from luxury, at least among the youth. Luxury isn’t extinct per se, but it isn’t for Gen Z. If you scour Instagram, a Gen Z account is immediately identifiable. From “photo dumps,” that include everything they’ve been up to, from empty plates and used cutlery to random memes and objects they’ve come across, this generation is challenging the picture perfect aesthetic previously imposed on them, by, well, millennials and boomers. They are embracing who they are, pushing back on this unrealistic and now, particularly post COVID-19, un-relatable social media content, seeking a more honest, open, and carefree online environment. The “Instagrammable” style made famous by the platform no longer works, both conceptually and aesthetically, and Mira Almomani, Nadine Sami or Leen Ramini, to name a few, are some perfect examples of this shift.

This brings us to the main course, namely, Gen Z’s lack of interest in celebrity news and influencers, which has dropped by 30% since 2020. With TikTok taking over, a new generation of care-free individuals have demanded control. They no longer want to attain the “impressive” lifestyle many content creators on Instagram have built their following on. They also no longer care for what’s cool or trendy. Go back to our Pulse feature which discussed why nothing is trendy because everything is trending.

Influencers killed influencer culture
The pandemic has shifted the tone of online content, making room for a new category of influencers to appear, namely the “genuinfluencer.” This group of individuals often share advice based on personal and past experiences, while also offering unbiased information and rejecting paid online advertisements. Their main aim isn’t to sell a product, rather to just show their lives. Many of them do not rely on social media as their main source of income either, they have corporate jobs that they tend to.

Some may argue that Gen-Z killed influencer culture, but that’s not really the case. Influencers killed influencer culture. As their follower count gradually increased over the years, many essentially sold their name to brands, governments, and other large institutions to share important information. By doing so, they lost the trust of a generation that lives online, a generation they must cater to if they hope to continue. No one is really interested in seeing forced product sponsorships anymore, instead many are focused on causes and the values of brands. 

In a 2019 Forbes report, it was claimed that the influencer market has reached saturation point. Authenticity was lost and first generation influencers had disappeared, not only because a new generation took over, but because there was a decline in interest in their content. Gen Z members have a more realistic and informed perspective and anything that may appear to be forced fails. After all, Gen Z is the most racially, ethnically, and sexually diverse generation in history and to attract their attention, you must speak their language.