“Get Off My Internets”: How Anti-Fans Deconstruct Lifestyle Bloggers’ Authenticity Work
Keywords:authenticity, persona, micro-celebrity, blog, anti-fan
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.
‘Adventurous Kate – and bloggers with backgrounds in online marketing’, 2014, GOMIBLOG, forum thread, 10 June 2014, retrieved 2 March 2017, http://gomiblog.com/forums/new-travel-bloggers/adventurous-kate-and-bloggers-with-backgrounds-in-online-marketing/
Amanda, 2014, ‘Travel Blogging isn’t for the Faint of Heart’, Living in Another Language, blog post, retrieved 2 March 2017, http://livinginanotherlanguage.com/travel-blogging/
‘authenticity, n.’, 2017, OED Online, Oxford, Oxford University Press, retrieved 21 April 2017.
Banet-Weiser, S 2012, Authentic TM: Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture, New York University Press, New York.
boyd, d & Marwick, A 2011, ‘To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter,’ Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 139-158, doi: 10.1177/1354856510394539.
Carlson, L 2014, ‘The Best Hate Comments of 2014,’ Young Adventuress, blog post, 20 February 2014, retrieved 2 March 2017, https://youngadventuress.com/2014/12/hate-comments.html
—2015, ‘Why Experience Still Matters,’ Young Adventuress, blog post, 10 Feb 2015, retrieved 2 March 2017, https://youngadventuress.com/2015/09/why-experience-still-matters.html
—2017, ‘5 Common Fears I Face Travelling and How I manage Them,’ Young Adventuress, blog post, 7 February 2017, retrieved 2 March 2017, https://youngadventuress.com/2016/08/travel-fears.html
Gamson, J 1994, Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America, University of California Press, Berkeley & Los Angeles.
Genz, S 2015, ‘My Job is Me: Postfeminist Celebrity Culture and the Gendering of Authenticity,’ Feminist Media Studies, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 545-561, doi: 10.1080/14680777.2014.952758
Gilmore, JH & Pine, BJ 2007, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.
Giuffre, L 2014, ‘Music for (Something Other than) Pleasure: Anti-Fans and the Other Side of Popular Music Appeal’, in L Duits, S Reijnders, & K Zwaan (eds) Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures, Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 49-62.
Gray, J 2005, ‘Antifandom and the Moral Text: Television Without Pity and Textual Dislike’, American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 48, no.7, pp. 840-858, doi: 10.1177/0002764204273171
Hearn, A 2008, ‘‘Meat, Mask, Burden’: Probing the Contours of the Branded Self,’ Journal of Consumer Culture vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 197-217, doi: 10.1177/1469540508090086
Jenkins, H 2006, Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture, New York University Press, New York.
—1992, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Routledge, New York.
‘Kath’, Kath Eats Real Food, http://katheats.com
Lovink, G 2011, Networks Without a Cause, Polity, Cambridge.
MacCannell, D 1999, The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class, University of California Press, Berkeley.
Maguire, E 2015, ‘Self-Branding, Hotness, and Girlhood in the Video Blogs of Jenna Marbles’, Biography, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 72-86, doi:10.1353/bio.2015.0006
Marshall, PD 2014, Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Marshall PD & Barbour, K 2015, ‘Making Intellectual Room for Persona Studies: a New Consciousness and a Shifted Perspective,’ Persona Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, pp.1-12, doi: 10.21153/ps2015vol1no1art464
Marwick, AE 2013, Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age, Yale UP, New Haven.
McCulley, K 2013, ‘How I Saved $13000 for Travel in Just Seven Months,’ Adventurous Kate, blog post, 21 January 2013, retrieved 2 March 2017, http://www.adventurouskate.com/how-i-saved-13000-for-travel-in-just-seven-months/
—2015, ‘On Living in perpetual Motion,’ Adventurous Kate, blog post, 26 October 2015, retrieved 2 March 2017, http://www.adventurouskate.com/on-living-in-perpetual-motion/
Peterson, RA 1997, Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Senft, T 2008, Camgirls: Celebrity & Community in the Age of Social Networks, Peter Lang, New York.
—2013. ‘Microcelebrity and the Branded Self’, in J Hartley, J Burgess, & A Bruns (eds) Blackwell Companion to New Media Dynamics, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp. 346-354. ‘Socality Barbie’, Instagram, retrieved 6 April 2017, https://www.instagram.com/socalitybarbie/
Swales, J 1990, Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings, Cambridge UP, Cambridge.
‘Travel Blogs’, GOMIBLOG, forum thread, 25 July 2014, retrieved 2 March 2017, http://gomiblog.com/forums/new-travel-bloggers/travel-blogs-1/
‘Travel bloggers’, GOMIBLOG, forum thread, 24 June 2014, retrieved 2 March 2017, http://gomiblog.com/forums/new-travel-bloggers/travel-bloggers/
Trilling, L 1972, Sincerity and Authenticity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.
Varga, S 2013, Authenticity as an Ethical Ideal, Routledge, New York.
‘Young Adventuress’, GOMIBLOG, forum thread, 2 Oct 2015, retrieved 2 March 2017, http://gomiblog.com/forums/new-travel-bloggers/young-adventuress/