am i defluencing you yet?
what i'm reading + not spending money on
Photo Credit: Paper Magazine
In theory, “deinfluencing” sounds good. It’s a social media trend that urges consumers away from being influenced to buy unnecessary products. I find the concept fascinating as content creators are a business first, person second and like any profit-yielding entity, their objective goal is to sell (use my code ‘Sara15’ for pay for my Erewhon-adjacent lifestyle!). This is not shade; I’ve done brand deals in the past and will continue to do them because ~capitalism~. Hence, my healthy skepticism around deinfluencing.
There’s incredible critique around how deinfluencing itself has been co-opted. Rather than tackling the issue of mindless consumerism via social media, what influencers have been doing is just recommending alternative products to buy instead. Which… is still a form of influencing. But whatever.
Here’s some things that I’m not spending money on (and one thing that I will recommend paying for):
What I’m Reading:
My 2023 resolution is to read all the books on my bookshelf before buying new books. I’m also trying to read 100 books this year (12 out of 100 currently).
Here’s some favorites:
Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors: I’ve been in a fiction rut, but this was pleasantly good! If you’re a fan of contemporary stories of the Sally Rooney flavor, I would check this out. TL;DR: two deeply flawed people who get married on a whim and how love falls apart despite our attempts to hold it together.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed: Okay, I love Cheryl Strayed. Tiny, Beautiful, Things is my personal Bible. But I think I’m not just a nature memoir type. I believe nature writing should be confined to poetry a la Mary Oliver. What happens in the wild is between you and your tree! But if you do enjoy nature memoirs, you’ll love this.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: Read it, loved it, wrote about it.
A tip to how to read more: I’m alternating between Serious Titles and my silly pleasure books (like the entire Percy Jackson series). Reading should be enjoyable! I’ve replaced my usual social media apps with Libby (free e-books and audiobooks for anyone who has a library card, which are also free) so I end up reading a few pages instead of scrolling on social media. I know we all have phone fatigue, but I’m not adding up more screen time, just re-allocating them.
I’ve also started bringing a book with me everywhere, per my friend’s recommendation. I like to read multiple books at once, so I’ll leave one in my car, on my nightstand, etc. By having a book always within arms reach, I’m more likely to actually pick it up.
What I’m Not Spending Money On:
Membership Studios: In 2019, I spend hundreds of money on a membership to the Wing (before they were ousted for being more exclusionary than girlbossy). I also only went like, three times total. I was invited to an exclusive club in Los Angeles that’s a hybrid spa slash co-working space slash gym slash restaurant. And I admit, it’s really pretty. It’s easy to fantasize myself being chic working there and also working out, but then I got real with myself because it’s a 30 minute drive and working from home is free. You don’t need a $300/mo membership to a big building to be productive, trust me.
Grubhub: I! Hate! Cooking! I’m ethnic and I never learned how to season my food! I also don’t like doing dishes. But I can’t rely on my food delivery apps when we’re headed into a recession. I have to break some bad habits and it’s not going to be my $8 lattes. So, goodbye Grubhub.
Makeup and Skincare: For full disclosure, I get most of my products through brand gifting. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t shiny brands (looking at you, Rhode) that catch my attention with their over-priced serums. The beauty industry is responsible for at least 120 billion units of waste per year. I’m trying to spend less and I’m trying to waste less, which means using the perfectly fine products I have at home. Also, no one needs 5 different types of facial cleansers. (PS. you can recycle your used beauty packaging at Nordstorm’s BEAUTYCYCLE program).
$17 Cocktails: I’m not necessarily trying to drink less, I’m just less interested in it. But when I go out for dinner, I feel compelled to get a cocktail because we live in a drinking culture. I’m trying to practice saying ‘no’ to alcohol as a social lubricant because I don’t need it and my bank account certainly does not need it. I’ll get a drink (thank you to my friend, Alyx, for introducing me to the Honeybee) when I feel like it, but otherwise, I’ll just stick to water.
Online Workouts: Remember in 2020 when most of us went into lockdown and we were convinced that we’d all do Melissa Wood Health’s pilates series? Or if you’re more ambitious, Chloe Ting’s summer challenge? I know myself and if I have zero accountability and witnesses (my cat does not count), I’m not going to finish that 25 minute workout. I’m going to close that screen and watch other people “get ready to workout” on Tik Tok instead. Sorry.
This isn’t sponsored, I promise, but I’ve been really enjoying using The Financial Gym’s services for financial planning. I am notoriously irresponsible with money despite being an immigrant, so it’s been helpful to have someone advise me on how to budget and what to cut out of my expenses. If you’re interested, you can tell them I referred you and we both get a deal.
But here is the one thing that I am spending money on and wish you would too:
My friend Jordan Risa-Santos is offering 1:1 social media consultation to anyone (valued at $125). She’s a long-time expert in the social media space having worked for and consulted for brands like Rose Inc, Emi Jay, and more. She’s also run social media for some of your favorite influencers who will not be named. A quick glance at her Instagram and you’ll get what everyone else knows: Jordan is a cool girl with a cool feed. But more importantly, she knows how to harness social media into something of value that’s not just a shop. She founded Seen Library, a digital community for book lovers, and regularly shares social justice oriented content.
You don’t really live in Los Angeles unless you’ve had someone pull up Jordan’s instagram and say, “Okay, but I want it to do like her.”
Luckily for all of us, Jordan’s sharing her tips on how to actually have a sustainable relationship with social media. I’m not a content creator by trade, so I’ve always struggled with how to use my platforms as an extension of the work I am doing. For 45 minutes, we talked about preventing digital burnout, what is “success” online, and how to make my accounts reflective of my values. I came out of it feeling so inspired and at peace about the world wide web for the first time in… ever?
She’s non-judgmental and she offers actionable, practice advice for your goals. If you’re online—whether for a profession or just because—I highly recommend that you schedule a consultation with her. You’ll get so much out of it and walk away from it feeling more intentional about why you’re logged on.
And you can follow her newsletter, How To Be A Woman On The Internet, where she dives into internet culture with her friend, Ford!
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