“Get Off My Internets”: How Anti-Fans Deconstruct Lifestyle Bloggers’ Authenticity Work

Sarah McRae

Abstract


This paper examines the nature of authenticity labour in personal lifestyle blogging through a case study of travel bloggers. Specifically, it looks at how participants in the blogging anti-fan community Get Off My Internets (GOMI) identify and deconstruct lifestyle bloggers’ efforts to perform an ‘authentic’ persona. Within the broader context of online micro-celebrity, self-branding, and persona, I examine authenticity as a kind of labour that is necessary for lifestyle blogging ‘success,’ where success is measured by metrics like heavy website traffic and brand sponsorships. Lifestyle bloggers perform authenticity partly by narrating the process of cultivating personal authenticity through the ongoing process of selfimprovement towards an idealized goal. This personal authenticity is based on existentialist notions of ‘being true’ to one’s essential nature and personal commitments. In the GOMI community, bloggers’ representations of the inner life are frequently viewed with suspicion, and interpreted as ‘staged,’ and therefore inauthentic, performances of authenticity. Bloggers are also expected to demonstrate a commitment to ethical authenticity, and, subsequently, attempts to monetize their content through sponsorships and affiliate links are viewed with suspicion. Lastly, authenticity work in lifestyle blogging involves emphasizing one’s ordinariness alongside one’s extraordinariness, resulting in what I call ‘aspirational extra/ordinariness.’ By observing trends in how travel bloggers perform authenticity and how anti-fans deconstruct these performances, it becomes apparent that critical publics identify inauthenticity in moments where the constructedness or performedness of authenticity is most apparent, indicating that while micro-celebrities rely on authenticity labour for their popularity, this very labour can detract from a persona’s perceived authenticity when it becomes obvious to publics.


Keywords


authenticity; persona; micro-celebrity; blog; anti-fan

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21153/ps2017vol3no1art640

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