Make way for virtual influencers…

In Kenneth Gergen’s 1991 book, The Saturated Self, he warned of a world where technology might saturate human beings to the point where the self is pulled in so many directions that the individual would be lost. “I am linked, therefore I am,” he said famously.

Our daily lives have been digitized, tracked, and tied up in metrics. Our real selves have split into profile pictures and status updates. And while social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are powerful tools that have the potential to build communities, connect the family in far-flung places, leverage careers, and even elect presidents, they are also unleashing a myriad of complex issues that have altered our collective sense of reality – where the danger of slipping too far into a virtual world is very real.

It’s not all bleak though. Social Media is helping us tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, from human rights violations to climate change – and this capacity to bring together disparate but like-minded people has gone from being “nice to have” to becoming an essential component of any business strategy.

In the field of fashion, the sun might already be set on the ambiguously famous Social Media Influencer. After all – why pay a human being to hawk nutrition concepts when you can create a Virtual Influencer who is perfectly willing to strut, pose, and even make memes – for free!

The popularity surrounding virtual influencers has been significant enough to start attracting serious money, including firms like Sequoia Capital – and has now given birth to the online personas of Lil Miquela, Shudu.Gram, Blawko, Noonoouri, etc. Being at the cutting edge of all things fashion innovation, and if discussions on the topic on Twitter are any indication, we could see something like a cinematic universe of Virtual Influencers in a very short while.

Kriti Srivastava, Assistant Professor, School of Fashion Design, Unitedworld Institute of Design (UID)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.