As the world of digital media rapidly becomes more oversaturated, the competition to gain attention and stand out from millions of others is impossibly difficult. The creators who managed to achieve a respectable following. Are the same creators who are all confronted with a different challenge as a consequence of their success: burnout. Stress, exhaustion, and pressure all under an ever-looming audience are rendering several influencers. This causes creators to sometimes take a break from producing content. Let’s take a look at a couple of factors that can lead creators down the rabbit hole of creative collapse.
Too Much Criticism
With putting yourself out onto the internet, and subsequently to the world, also comes the inevitable exposure to a variety of opinions. Especially the negative ones. Although constructive criticism can be helpful in improving and developing better content. There is a tendency to cross that line into blatant harmful hate.
As social media becomes more widespread and creators grow larger, the threshold for how ruthlessly offensive viewers are has also seemed to equal increase as well. The attributed to the protection of anonymity from behind a screen. Known as the online distribution effect. Users have shown to show less restraint in online communication in comparison to physical communication. Simply put, people are more comfortable with being meaner online. And, it’s taking a toll on influencers.
“This app used to be so fun, and now your favorite creators are depressed,” a TikTok creator who goes by Shathecrow said. “So you should watch your mouth when you comment.”
Hate Comments and Negative Feedback
It is hard, being bombarded with constant animosity. It can be extremely discouraging. Especially when audiences deliberately view videos for the sole purpose of sending hate. In her podcast “Two Chix” which she hosts with her sister Dixie, social media megastar Charlie D’Amelio talks about taking a break from posting on her main TikTok account. Where she has amassed over 127 million followers, due to the relentless barrage of hate she receives.
“It’s extremely difficult to continue posting on a platform, where the people that are watching your videos don’t actually like, want to see you and a lot of the feedback is negative,” D’Amelio said. “It’s very hard to do that.”
Especially in an industry largely dominated by teenagers. Who is more vulnerable to mental health issues. Creators begin to doubt themselves and subject their content to intense scrutiny. They begin to overthink and notice details that once went unnoticed. All so-called mistakes are brought to light. They now serve as an extra flaw the creator must consider. This leads to self-doubt, inconsistency, and hesitancy to post.
In a blog post detailing the cause behind her four-month hiatus, YouTuber Safiya Nygaard noted how her confidence began to dwindle. Her comments denounced various aspects of not only her content but personal attributes out of her control, such as her appearance. She received comments such as “your facial expressions are irritating” or “you got chubby.”
Nygaard revealed that it caused her to overanalyze and nitpick everything she did to the point where, saying, “there are certain things that have worked their way into my psyche and have come to directly affect my ability to work on the channel.”
Pressure to Create
Although all careers come with expectations regarding the quality of work. There is a great ordeal of pressure when having a large audience of complete strangers to satisfy. As influencers gain more followers, they’re also obtaining a wider range of tastes and demands, to appeal to. Many creators feel the need to make sure that they’re not only maintaining high-quality content. But, also the views to back it up. This incoherently results in creator burnout.
While influencers can sometimes gain viral attention almost immediately. The finicky nature of internet fame poses the constant threat of losing that popularity just as quickly. Many social media platforms have algorithms. Algorithms are used to help platforms decide what content gets widely promoted to the audience. So it’s up to creators to constantly post in order to maintain the favor of Youtube’s recommendations or TikTok’s ForYouPage.
In an interview with ABC News, influencer Brooklyn Webb, who has over 10 million followers on TikTok, admitted to feeling burnout. To keep up with the constant demand for videos to keep up viewer interaction.
“I had to keep going and going and going because I didn’t want to take a break because then just one day off — that’s a day of engagement gone,” Webb said.
The struggle to keep up with growing popularity is especially difficult for creators. Who encounter sudden popularity as opposed to those who are able to gradually grow their following. Nygaard, whose Youtube channel received immediate success. Later found that the quick positive reception was incredibly gratifying but also made it difficult to establish a proper hold over production. While smaller channels have time to cultivate a comfortable workflow and schedule. Nygaard found herself feeling behind and always rushing to catch up.
“I was too scared to stop and figure out how to build something sustainable underneath me, for fear of losing momentum,” Nygaard said.
The viewership and engagement of every video are displayed to the creator. After every second for every upload. A decrease in their statistics can often be disheartening. It is seen as a failure, regardless of the content’s quality. This can cause a spiral of determination to improve ratings while running on empty. This results in lower quality work and perhaps even lower views. To put it quite frankly another scenario of creator burnout.
Loss of Passion
Ultimately, the constant pressure to consistently come up with entertaining, unique ideas at a very fast rate. It simply drives influencers out of their creative fuel. The job that began as a fun hobby is morphed into a draining, incessant race to stay on top. Creators’ content is no longer determined by what they’re interested in. But rather what caters to algorithms and trends. The conflict of loss of passion also results in creator burnout.
“I just kind of lost the passion for it because it used to be really fun for me,” D’Amelio said. “And I’m working back into it.”
Particularly with many influencers relying on engagement for income. The content is focused on sustainability. A mindset that only adds even more stress and pressure onto the creators. Accompanied by a sense of failure at any drop in views and an unforgiving stream of discouraging comments. This is what inevitably happens is the inability to deliver anything at all. Simply leaving creators burned out.
What usually ensues is a break from all platforms in order to recover and rediscover the creative energy that initially began their career. However, for some influencers, burnout can be a sign that this form of content creation may simply lack longevity, and might choose to move on to other means of producing what they love.
“Right now it’s still alive and thriving, and I still have every opportunity to make it into anything I want,” Webb said. “But at the same time, it’s always in the back of my mind like, okay, when should I start looking towards other things.”
Feature image from Prostock-Studio