How Millennials Are Making Social Media Their Career
It might be hard to believe, but fourteen years ago, Instagram didn’t exist. Youtube was an idea in progress. The founders of Snapchat were still in high school.
Now, there are children who aspire to become Youtubers when they grow up. There are people — several of them, like Lilly Singh, Pewdiepie, and Yuya — who have created a living through their social media accounts, revealing a plethora of careers that did not exist fourteen years ago. Our present and future lie in the hands of social media, and although this comes with drawbacks, it has also made it possible for young people to put their dreams into action. And get paid for it.
Here’s a closer look at how millennials have turned social media into their career, and why this is such an amazing thing.
Zoe Sugg, an English beauty vlogger and blogger, was 17 when she created her YouTube channel in 2007. She didn’t start uploading videos until a few years later, while she was working at an interior design firm. In 2013 she reached 1 million subscribers on Youtube. Since then, she has met singer/songwriter Harry Styles, written and sold three bestselling novels, launched several beauty product lines, been invited to meet the queen of England, and had a wax statue created of her at Madame Tussauds in London. Her current net worth is expected to be over $1.6 million. But what lies beneath her large-scale accomplishments is the beauty of her success on a more personal level: this young British star transformed from someone who had difficulty finding fulfillment in her life and career — resembling about 87% of the world’s working population — to a public advocate for mental health awareness, a published author, entrepreneur, and a relatable icon for young girls all around the world. Zoe was able to utilize YouTube to turn her then dull and unengaging life into one that she couldn’t have imagined in her most wildest dreams — all because she decided to post a video about 60 things found in her bedroom one day.
Granted, Zoe probably did not need fame to feel happy with her life. In fact, she has stated in her videos multiple times that she has had such a difficult time accepting, processing, and handling her fame that she has considered quitting YouTube altogether. However, her story illustrates the large breadth of potential in social media and the Internet. It proves to young people around the world that all it takes is one bold move that puts you outside of your comfort zone to achieve what you had never thought possible. And YouTube continues to be a platform for people to do exactly that.
Similarly, a group called YesTheory has recently hit 2 million subscribers on YouTube, and appears to be on a track akin to that of Zoe Sugg’s rise to fame — except they decided to use the platform a bit differently. Recognizing the power of social media and the scope of the audience they had the potential to reach, Ammar, Thomas, Matt, and Derin began creating videos to inspire people to say “yes” to opportunities that might scare them and to seek discomfort in life. These young, ambitious, inspiring individuals turned down job offers and grants that they received after college, overcame mental health issues, stopped all of their life’s workings, and faced several bouts of criticism to move to Los Angeles. Together, they created a community on the Internet dedicated to inspiring people to do exactly what they did: say “yes”.
But it’s not just YouTube that has allowed people to project their voices and goals onto the world — there are dozens of success stories from people who have used Facebook and Instagram to do this as well. A famous example would be Humans of New York, a Facebook and Instagram blog in which creator and photographer Brandon Stanton reveals the jaw-dropping stories of people in some of the most famous cities of the world. His posts give the public a sense of sympathy, appreciation, and understanding for the lives of those around them, and help bring common social issues to the forefront of popular media. Since the take-off of his blog, Stanton has interviewed former president Barack Obama, published a book, and raised over $300,000 for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Hundreds of thousands of people spend years, even decades of their lives looking for a career that makes them feel fulfilled, content, and meaningful, and the Internet has now opened up another doorway for people to achieve this. Fame and wealth are never guaranteed — nor absolutely necessary — but social media platforms provide an outlet for anyone to use their voice, and to access an unfathomably large amount of people, ensuring that their voices will be heard.
Clearly, the Internet is no joke anymore. Zoe Sugg, the boys of YesTheory, and Brandon Stanton are just a few examples of people that have used social media to better both their individual lives and the world. They represent the good side of the Internet; not the side that ruins your eyesight or tracks your location and sends information to the government, but the side that utilizes the power of communication to incite change. If our generation continues to use the Internet in this way, we could achieve so much more than we ever thought possible. We could inspire and become change-makers.
… For a living.