Recently, I spent five days in paradise with Tarte Cosmetics and 20 of my favorite YouTubers and Instagrammers to learn about Tarte's new collections. At first, I totally fangirled out. I had watched these peoples' videos, liked their Instagram posts, and even engaged with them on Twitter, all from the comfort of being behind my computer screen — IRL, would they be everything I'd thought they'd be? Three days into our trip, their quasi-celeb factor began to wear off. And as I zip-lined over Kauai's lush green hills, it was easy to forget that my comrades were toting around millions of followers in their pockets — until they whipped out their cameras and began vlogging, snapping, and 'gramming the experience for their fans. "I don't think I've ever had a group that took so many pictures," our guide said with a laugh. "And I've had a camera crew on my tour!"
For social media influencers, the ebb and flow of negative and positive energy has become a 24/7 occurrence.
Seeing as I've watched hours of YouTube tutorials and daily vlogs, I knew this trip would be extensively documented, but like our tour guide, I must admit that even I was surprised by the sheer amount of filming I saw.
Engaging in social media can be a double-edged sword. The constant flow of content can serve as inspiration, while also creating a weighty pressure for perfection. For social media influencers, who have built their careers to revolve around not only engaging in, but endlessly creating on, various social media apparatuses, the ebb and flow of negative and positive energy has become a 24/7 occurrence. "It's a constant battle," said Laura Gurrola of @laurag_143 (2 million followers). "Although you want to think it doesn't matter how many followers or likes you get, you can't help checking Instagram to see what's going on or to see if your picture is doing [well]." That's why many of these social media mavens have set up ground rules to force themselves to take breaks and step back when on the job.
The knowledge that even social media influencers struggle with their chosen form of expression was a relief.
Until recently, Maryam of Maryam Maquillage (880,000 followers) felt an enormous pressure to post constantly. "It used to be an issue with me when I would see how often some people in the field post," she said over dinner. "But you can't create all the time, [and] as long as you post what you truly love and believe in, it doesn't really matter." The knowledge that even social media influencers struggle with their chosen form of expression was a relief. Just being around these people, regardless of how kind they are, gave me slight pangs of anxiety. I found myself checking Instagram and Twitter every couple of minutes and posting photos because I thought I needed to grow my following. I felt small with my measly 495 followers next to people who can touch millions in a matter of seconds.
But as I got to know the influencers, my outsider feeling began to diminish, and by the end of the trip, many of us became friends. And I've never had more fun with makeup than when I was discussing products with Nicol Concilio or gushing over baking with Patrick Starrr and Manny MUA. Being able to freely beat my face in the company of true makeup fanatics was not only one of the highlights of the trip, but it reinforced everything I loved about beauty when I first started watching YouTube videos almost four years ago in high school. It was incredible seeing the beauty community come together in this way. At the end of the day, every single one of us was there because he or she is obsessed with makeup — so much so that beauty has become our full-time job — and it served as a much-needed reminder that this passion is more important to me than a few extra likes.