Instagram fame: Millennials aspiring to monetise their life on social media

Article by Hannah Walmsley /
ABC /
March 11, 2017 /
Click here to view original /

Instagram is the platform where people can show off the best bits of their lives and present an image of themselves that is carefully curated, filtered and edited.

Australians made famous via their accounts, like fitness guru Kayla Itsines, personal style blogger Jessica Stein and wearable crochet artist Phil Ferguson, are inspiring millennials everywhere.

And while only a successful few are cashing in on their social media fame, millennials en masse are considering their Instagram account as a career path.

Melbourne University’s Dr Lauren Rosewarne said that was “totally unrealistic”.

“Young people are aspiring to be famous in numbers that were simply not there 20 years ago,” she said.

“There are some people who can make fortunes out of monetising their Instagram posts but that’s not the norm.

“That’s not something your career counsellor at school should be suggesting as a profession for you.

“The odds of achieving that are really low.

“There’s the cautionary note for parents; this is not a normal or even common occurrence that you can monetise your Instagram account.”

Dr Rosewarne said that while women were taking to Instagram in greater numbers than men, it was far from being just women’s business.

“Men tend to be involved in smaller numbers and more involved in things like bodybuilding and travel,” she said.

Tasmanian outdoor adventurer Miles Gray, for example, has used his social media to travel the world while leading a movie star lifestyle.

“He and others are selling a lifestyle and all the accoutrements that go with that,” Dr Rosewarne said.

“That’s what they’re selling to companies who want to sponsor their posts.”

Toni Eager from the Australian National University said Instagram had flipped the whole concept of fame.

“When we talk about celebrity, generally we refer to musicians and actors, sport stars and people who have a public profile and that’s what they’re known for,” she said.

Celebrities are then challenged to keep their private lives private.

“On Instagram, what people are doing is leveraging the private life first,” she said.

“So where do they go from there in trying to separate the life people see on Instagram to their actual normal life?

“All of a sudden, people own your private life.”

Dr Rosewarne said many millennials had become entirely comfortable with that.

“It’s more of a cultural norm,” she said.

“I think the cost to kids growing up now will be lower than they would’ve been a generation ago.”

Famous or not, Dr Rosewarne said teenagers pitting their self-esteem against the number of likes they receive on social media was dangerous.

“Those likes are fraudulent numbers anyway,” she said.

“As we know from what politicians have done, you can just buy followers if you want now.

“And people do,” she added.