The influencer trap

from the pages archive

I loveee music. I have a bad habit of delving into too many different hobbies, but music has always been a staple through it all. Playing and recording music, listening to music, watching live performance videos, learning songs, all of it. For a long time, however, I wasn't really able to invest much in it, at least financially speaking. I didn't have enough money to buy the “nice” stuff, but I was getting by with what I could afford at the time.

Then a time came when I could. And very quickly, my collection of instruments and gear grew, and there was no stopping me. It took me a few years of endlessly buying new things to realize that music stopped being a hobby for me, instead my hobby became... buying music gear. I barely played music anymore, instead got caught up watching YouTube videos of gear, shopping, watching: an endless cycle that produced nothing of real value or growth.

The thing that didn't click to me immediately starts with the fact that all of these people I was watching are doing this for a living. They don't necessarily have malicious intent of appeasing sponsors and get people to spend money, but they are making money of the craft, most doing it full-time. They have a lot of time on their hands when music (or YouTubing or both) is their career. When they justify the value of a gear that's $$$$, they are taking into consideration how much time they themselves are going to invest using that piece of gear. Me as a hobbyist who can barely make time is not gonna get the same use out of it.

Sure, the financial investment aspect of it sounds obvious, it always has been for me as well. But that wasn't the kicker, it was time. Spending so much time in the cycle of watching and shopping, I barely spent time actually playing or creating or learning music. Shopping was my hobby now, not music.

I fell into the same trap again in recent weeks. This time it was with productivity YouTube. After binging some of the biggest and respected names in the space, I noticed that they pose a similar trap. They jump straight into how to optimize your life so you can ascend, maybe even create content for other people. Most of us are trying to organize life in significantly smaller steps. We don't need to use 10 different (paid!) apps to create a second brain. What we need, to start off at the very least, is learn how to use a calendar, a todo list, and notes in a streamlined workflow. And then, for most if not all laymen, maybe you can invest in a zettelkasten system, and further streamline existing tools. Many of us don't have the mental capacity to handle all these tools and processes at the end of our work day to organize our personal life. Many of us don't have the luxury of attaching our personal life growth and organization directly with our career on YouTube.

Ultimately, I realize now that if I am looking for “expert” advice on anything, and learn from others, in most cases it can't be from (full-time) influencers. I'd compare it to the educational system. You learn a lot of whats in school, largely in topics that may not be useful. And without the correct guidance for a kid, you don't really know what you need to learn. You barely know what you are trying to let alone need to achieve. It's a similar story with full-time educational influencers. I keep seeing this trend across topics that they have lost touch with what would actually help the layman, instead focusing too much on what people are gonna be engaged on, without getting real value out of. When I have only a few hours to spare on music, I'm much better off learning songs and recording them, but the content is made for the three people that work with music for a living, who have a lot more time to spare.

In my opinion, we need more hobbyist content creators to help out other hobbyists, not influencers. But live long enough, you might too become the villain.

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