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The thing about the Internet and its many cyber residents is that they never forget and rarely forgive.
Just a week ago, social media marketing agency Faves Asia released a recruitment advertisement that has ever since been dubbed as "that cringeworthy influencer video".
Besides drawing significant flak, it also led to much funnier parodies from mrbrown, Xiaxue and more springing up left and right.
And even after Faves Asia posted an apology on its Facebook page as well as clarified that the video was meant to be exaggerated, the backlash is far from over.
The controversy has also sparked heated debate on what being an 'influencer' in Singapore means.
While some felt that it is a materialistic and attention-seeking industry merely in pursuit of fame and freebies, others argued that it is content creation, involving tons of hard work that tend to go unnoticed.
Facebook user Donovan Choy weighed in with thought-provoking sentiments that we feel are worth sharing.
Two Faves Asia personalities have also responded to the criticism surrounding the agency and their recruitment video.
Hilda Tan, the main lead in the ad that saw her growing into a social media star (complete with Maserati-driving boyfriend and fanboy horde) wrote on Instagram that she has 'nothing she needs to defend'.
"It is a script, I just acted it out. It is not a representation of who I am as a person."
Although she agreed that the script had room for improvement, Hilda pointed out that Faves Asia is just a small company "trying to make use of whatever resources they have to get their business going."
She also shared how netizens "shared those viral articles on Facebook, watching this whole saga unfold as though it's some popcorn movie and people trashing me on whatever platforms possible. People sending me the most nasty messages like I just killed someone."
Expressing her appreciation for those who did encourage and believed in her, Hilda added, "I am not an influencer, I never identified myself as one because I know I am not. But how do you define what an influencer really is?
"I don't create content for the masses, I'm not made for that. I don't make the most of my income out of these grid squares. I just like to share about myself with people who want to know me. Just like everyone else out there, I put a lot of effort into producing the content you see on my Instagram."
There is nothing i need to defend. It is a script, i just acted it out. It is not a representation of who i am as a person. . The script, i agree, is far from good. But faves is just a small company, trying to make use of whatever resources they have to get their business going. Then there are publishers riding on this cheap content to create publicity for their platform. How does this make them different from faves' hunger for fame? . I've seen my very own "friends" share those viral articles on Facebook, watching this whole saga unfold as though its some popcorn movie and people trashing me on whatever platforms possible. People sending me the most nasty messages like i just killed someone. Seriously, everyone needs to take a chill pill. Dont go crazy over a video made out of nobodies! You feel offended by its content then sure, work hard on yours to prove that the industry is made up of something more. Action speaks louder than words right? . On a more positive note, It is comforting to know that there are still people who believe in me and for the work i do. Thats what really matters. I read each and every one of your DMs to me and i just want you to know that i appreciate all your encouragement. . I am not an influencer, i never identified myself as one because i know i am not. But how do you define what an influencer really is? In fact, i do not even need to account to people for what i do because i live my life the way i want and create the kind of content i'd like to share as long as im not hurting anyone. If you like what you see, great! If you dont, then just dont see. I am not asking you to notice me senpai. Do not get me wrong. I can take constructive criticisms, i just dont deal with personal attacks. . I dont create content for the masses, im not made for that. I dont make the most of my income out of these grid squares. I just like to share about myself with people who want to know me. Just like everyone else out there, i put alot of effort into producing the content you see on my instagram. . If you're gloating at this and riding on this opportunity, ride it well and dont fall off.
Another personality who also appeared in the video, Kimberly Yong, revealed her thoughts on the "huge uproar" and stated, "I'm not going to deny that I'm a part of Faves Asia."
She wrote on Instagram, "I've always been the kind of girl who wants to impact the world in a positive way" and said that she would always try to help everyone who approached her to the best of her ability.
"If you have been following me for some time, you would know I'm someone who chases inspiration, love, passion and happiness over materialistic crap. I've always strongly believed in developing your inner character and beauty over wealth or other superficial things people chase in this world. And despite how 'superficial' some people might think social media is today, I want people to know that not everyone in this industry is like that.
"I've no idea if you think I'm just bullshiting you or not. But, whether or not you choose to believe me, I just want you to know that I was never in for the free stuff or the fame. All I wanted to do was to impact people positively and in the process also growing myself to be a better person."
I understand that there has been a huge uproar about what social media influencers are all about. And, I'm not going to deny that I'm a part of Faves Asia. You may or may not recognize me from the pictures/video but here's my take on it. . I cannot speak on behalf of all the "influencers" out there but, here's what I believe. I've always been the kind of girl who wants to impact the world in a positive way. As such, I started my ask.fm a few years back and I dedicated a lot of my time to help my fellow peers and strangers I didn't even know. I wasn't the best or the wisest but, what I could give them were my personal lessons and experiences. To the best of my ability, I would try to help everyone who approached me. . As the social media world started to evolve, companies and brands started contacting me because they noticed that I had the following. Nonetheless, no matter who contacted me or how far I've grown since then, the values that I have in me still stands. . If you have been following me for some time, you would know I'm someone who chases inspiration, love, passion and happiness over materialistic crap. I've always strongly believed in developing your inner character and beauty over wealth or other superficial things people chase in this world. And despite how "superficial" some people might think social media is today, I want people to know that not everyone in this industry is like that. . I've no idea if you think I'm just bullshiting you or not. But, whether or not you choose to believe me, I just want you to know that I was never in for the free stuff or the fame. All I wanted to do was to impact people positively and in the process also growing myself to be a better person. . Lastly, to conclude this post, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to those of you who were following me since the start. Thank you for showing me so much love and support. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for believing that I'm genuine. And lastly, thank you for always pushing me to be a better and most importantly picking me up when I fall.
Both girls also shared with Popspoken in an interview a more in-depth response to the Faves Asia saga and their take on content creation.
Kimberly said, "As a micro-influencer myself, I have never seen my life as damn shiok. Because in all honesty, the struggle in this industry is real.
"I’m not going to deny that we get stuff for free. But here’s the thing, if you want to make this into a career, getting free stuff ain’t going to pay for your bills or support your family."
In addition, she described the competitiveness of the industry, how "a lot of youths come into this industry thinking that it’s going to be easy" and "people doing it for the wrong reasons".
Kimberly also emphasised on the challenges of her work, from meeting clients' expectations to the time and effort taken to create Instagram posts that you probably look at for only three to five seconds.
"Don’t judge the industry as a whole. Instead, look at everyone and see them for who they are. It is only then will you know who’s real and who’s not," she concluded.
As for Hilda, she feels that "everyone uses social media as a way to clamour for attention online" and that "the only distinction between these people and influencers is that influencers monetise that desire".
She said, "The remuneration we receive is our source of income and for some people, it’s their bread and butter which is essentially similar to doctors and teachers who are supposed to have passion for what they do.
"Just because they get paid for the work they do, it does not mean they do not put in effort and there’s no passion at all. If they are doing it solely out of passion, then why are they paid so high? Why don’t they just become doctors-without-borders?
"The remuneration package for every line of work exists for a reason and just because people feel like influencers are undeservingly paid highly doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve their income."
Hilda, too, shared the difficulties that she faces in her work, such as having to meet deadlines for multiple clients while still juggling work/school, as well as the effort required to shoot, edit and post a picture.
Describing what seems like influencers enjoying freebies and such to the average person while they are also hard at work, Hilda added, "Just because we get paid and get sponsorships, it does not mean that people should discount us for the effort put into our content."
Not everyone agrees with the two girls, however, with some expressing disbelief that they are comparing their work to that of doctors and teachers.
Stomper Tong said, "I don't understand the purpose of their post? To tell everyone that their work is HARD?!? Hahahaha! Like seriously?!?"
Well, it's the Internet after all, where opinions are always divided. Unless we are talking about United Airlines, where everyone has been pretty... united in their stand.