Anxiety

The Tipping Point

Note from Carly: This post started as notes in my phone over the summer. Then I sat down to write the post over a month ago. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder, purely out of fear of posting. I straddle this line where I want to share what I’m feeling, but I’m also struggling with the fear of judgment right now. It can be frustrating when I’m accused of sharing too much fluff and then getting attacked when I say anything that’s actually on my mind. I like to share a mix of things (whether it’s something I wore, what I read, or something on my mind). I still have someone moderating my comments for me (which occurred after I had drafted this) and it’s honestly helping my mental health in a huge way, but there’s still the inkling of fear. But… it’s not how I want to live my life or run my blog, so I’m going to take a giant breath and click publish. Hopefully, the post sheds light on a perspective you find interesting or relatable or something you hadn’t yet considered.

I spend a lot of time on social media. It’s my job so I’m posting and creating a lot of my own content, but I am also a pretty heavy consumer of it as well. I am always trying to stay on top of what’s trending, what’s new, what people are enjoying… I take inventory of what I like watching/reading (and what I don’t) and how that can translate into my own content. It’s a mix between an art and a science. Sometimes it’s purely a gut choice.

But I think something B I G is happening right now on social media. And usually, I’d chalk it up as a “trend” (like Youtubers doing life hack or slime videos and bloggers wearing Valentino Rockstuds or carrying Cult Gaia bags), but I have a feeling it’s more than a trend or a strategic decision.

I feel it (and have been for a while) and, from what I’m seeing, others are feeling it too.

Bloggers, Youtubers, Instagrammers, Influencers. Whatever you want to call it… a rose by any other name. We all started in the same kind of way. One of my favorite things to do is to go back and watch someone’s oldest videos or read someone’s oldest posts. I can speak for myself and feel like it applies to a lot of people who started before 2010, but most of these influencers (myself included) started out on a platform for a purely creative outlet. A place where they could be themselves or, at least, show a side of themselves that might have been getting lost in the real world. It was escapism in a way. But also a way to carve out a little space where there was no judgment.

Then, as everything in life does, things started to shift. I can’t be mad about it, because it really is something that happens time and time again. Things are cyclical. Life is. Those overalls you were in middle school and cringed at in high school are somehow cool again. The books we put aside for e-readers and tablets are somehow back on our shelves. You name it, it’s probably been in and out and then back in.

So those spaces we carved out for ourselves grew… and …. grew… and grew. It was baby steps. 10,000 followers here, 100,000 there. Mirror selfies and Valencia filtered square images made way for DSLR cameras and Lightroom. The story, which had once been so unabashedly shared, was curated and crafted into inspirational aspirations for people to emulate, gawk at, or otherwise just escape to for a little bit. Hobbies turned into jobs that evolved into legitimate careers.

And the careers look so great. That’s one of the strangest parts of the whole thing. It’s all about how it appears from the outside. “If it looks easy, you’re doing your job right,” is something that we all have drilled into our heads. But again, like life, nothing is easy! I won’t even get into how difficult it is to run a business (any business, big or small), but all of that aside, it’s hard to share your life online with strangers. It seems innocent enough and you don’t even realize the magnitude of it until you’re too far down the hole, or at the very least, I didn’t.

When it’s your job, there are pressures that you didn’t anticipate when you created a Blogspot account while home on winter break (hi, that was me!) or uploaded your first Youtube video in the bubblegum pink-walled room you decorated in fifth grade. Then, it was fun. And while there are fun moments, you now have agents to please, employees to manage, taxes to pay. You have to make difficult decisions without having a lot, if any, outside guidance. What you did in your spare time is now what you do with all of your time. It’s a constant struggle to find the balance of what to share and how to maintain any semblance of privacy.

There are stadiums filled with virtual fans… with people sitting front row center watching every move with bated breath as they ready their tomatoes. There’s pressure from both sides. A nearly crushing desire to give the fans what they want and what they deserve. Plus a certain psychological crush that comes from “haters.” (Even mentioning this– the word “hater” or the content of this post– at all is like setting forth a feast for the trolls beneath the bridge. Where I’d usually re-edit the post to take out some of the fuel, I’m just publishing and bracing myself.) 

It’s hard to explain the pressure if you’re not experiencing it first hand. “But you get to go on free trips!” “You get all these free clothes!” “You have a perfect life!” I’m unbelievably grateful for every opportunity, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy or carefreeso don’t believe the perfect Instagrams. I’ve been mulling over all these weird intricacies and talking with a lot of my friends who are in the same boat. The one thing I keep coming back to is that I feel a little bit like the (Disney) little mermaid who gains legs but gives up her voice. There’s a price you have to pay.

I’ve seen all kinds of changes since I started my blog ten years ago. The rise of Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Instagram Stories. Websites underwent makeovers. Youtube channels added secondary vlog channels. Self-conscious teens turned into assured young adults.

But those filtered photos and dreamy videos only mask the insecurities that only grow with the increased pressures. Through friends and managers, I’ve heard it all. The Youtuber who pretty much never leaves her house. The blogger who can only get through events with medication. One blogger turning another blogger into the IRS because they’re competitors in the same city. LLCs to buy houses so people can’t Google where they live. Countless therapists to work through the anxieties. It’s not a normal way to live, marble countertops or not.

And here’s the tipping point. 

Like the title of the post suggests, I don’t think there was any one thing that tipped the scale. I think it’s part of the cycle of what we’re doing. The public display of imperfect lives drew in an audience, which led to opportunities, which then became businesses, which then required a certain polished professionalism. At some point, the lines between professionalism and perfection blurred. But the whole perfection thing (the perfect images, the perfect house, the perfect skin, the perfect life) is not a facade anyone can keep up with for too long. At some point, you break.

I think there was a lot of cracking under the surface and once it started to spill out, there was a collective sigh of relief in, like, okay… we can breathe, we’re not alone. It’s happening on Youtube right now (you only have to watch a handful of videos of big channels right now to see it happening in real time) and I think Instagram is next and then blogs will catch on too.

Personally, I don’t know what that means for me and my blog. I think I can find the joy in it again, because I can feel, deep down, that it’s there. (I truly don’t believe I would have gotten through some of the hardest moments I’ve faced with it if I didn’t love it.) I have had fun with it for a decade and I know I can continue to, it’s just a matter of reconnecting with that and sorting through how I can make it work. I don’t have the answers and there isn’t going to be some huge overnight switch. But I know there has to be some kind of change, whether it’s the entire industry or just me. (For the record, I think the tipping point is an industry-wide thing right now and I’m just one tiny drop of it.)

Even if you’re not in the space as a creator, you’re reading this, which means you’re still in the space. Obviously, there are creators and consumers (and, like I said at the beginning), you can also be both. It’s important for everyone to figure out what you need from the space and what you want to contribute. No need for some big change right now, but keep an open mind.

I think this is just the beginning of the next “phase” of the cycle and I’m excited to see where it leads.

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70 Comments

Ali

yes, yes, yes one thousand times yes!!!!!!! You have articulated how I’ve been feeling for a very long time. I don’t think this pressure applies only to creators, but in some way for everyone who uses social media. I’ve gone almost 3 years without instagram or snapchat for this very reason. I do think the current (hopefully soon to be former) system is entirely unsustainable from a mental health perspective. Using social media every day had such a negative impact on my mental health, and I was fortunately in the position where I could step away entirely. I’m so much happier now that I’ve gained some distance from it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% checking up on my favorite blogger’s instas using the web browser on my laptop (lol), but it’s the perfect amount of space where I can enjoy the content without the pressure. Your blog was the one I first started reading close to 7 years ago. I cannot thank you enough for your honesty and candid thoughts in this post. I’m so glad I’ve stuck around, and I certainly will be for awhile – wherever that takes us!

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Sharon

This is such an interesting post to me. I have lived long enough ( I am 45) to know that nothing is perfect.. no one/no thing/no job or career. It has been really interesting to me to see the ‘evolution’ of blogs. To me, instagram and instagram stories especially changed everything and put pressure on developing more and more ‘original’ content. If you put your whole life on instagram, then your ‘life lately’ posts are going to seem like regurgitation and I am going to lose interest in reading your blog. Yes, you now have to step up your game to keep my interest. I tell my kids all the time that every job had pros and cons. You make a lot of $, you will most likely have higher stress and work longer hours. You want a lot of time off, you will most likely have to be with less $. Everything comes with a trade off. You decide to put your life out there on social media/on blogs, you have to know that in most cases you will have ‘haters’ and a loss of anonimity. Maybe though as you grow your audience, you will have access to more collaborations which will increase your income and your reach. You have to decide if this is a trade off that you want to make. There are thousands of ways to express creativity. It does not have to be done in such a public way if you are not ok with the other aspects that come with it. The ones that make me cringe are the bloggers that use their kids all the time for clicks and income. They use their kids to sell everything from diapers, to meal delivery to college savings plan. Your 2 year old has no say in how you use their image yet this is something that they will have follow them forever. Imagine getting to middle school and having everyone know what you shilled as a toddler. If your child has their own hashtag, you really should stop and think if you have maybe taken this too far. I see this as the new momager/ young hollywood.

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Julie

Thanks for your insight! As a consumer I loved reading what you think as a social media creator see coming on the horizon! And hopefully it is authenticity all-around!

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Lucy

Carly, I LOVED this post. It resonates so much with me, as someone trying to find joy and fun in my (software) job. Thank you for having the confidence and bravery to publish this post, and for being so vulnerable with us. Your candor and insight ARE what makes your blog – if not “perfect” – then truly special, unique, and OUTSTANDING. Keep doing you!

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Coralys M

Carly, I love this post everything that you have said here I agree with 100% , there is so much focus on social media that sometimes you reach that tipping point not only as a blogger but as someone who just reads or watch sometimes we feel that pressure that maybe we are not good enough.

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Amanda

Carly, I rarely feel compelled to comment but I’ve been an on-off reader for years. I think your thought process here is relevant, interesting, and true. I’m curious to see where/how you and the industry navigate this false picture of perfection and constant marketing currently plaguing “influencers”. Good luck!

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Anastasia

Carly this is the most interesting post I read in ages and I am so happy you talked about this subject here.

Much like you, I started blogging back in 2007 when sponsored content and collaborations weren’t a thing and blogging was just a mean to keep track of your style and share adventures with your friends living far away. My blog’s success is nowhere near yours, however I can see things changing and I have lost and found the pleasure of blogging many times so far. I too wonder what is next for the digital media world-a new social media platform or blogging going back to its roots and being more authentic-who knows! All I know is that with all the pressure to produce content and be on top of trends, it somehow lost its original magic and I very much look forward to getting it back one day soon…

I am interested to see what other bloggers feel about it or people reading your blog and what are their predictions!

Thanks for sharing once again
x
Anastasia
http://www.natbees.com/

P.S: I am always laughing at people thinking that going on press trips is for free-little do they know how much work goes into all these things!!!

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Zoe

Carly,

Do you know what I love so much about this post? The fact that I feel like I am reading your true, authentic voice. You are a great writer! And as much as I love your other fashion and lifestyle posts, I so appreciate you creating posts like this from time-to-time. Thought-provoking content aside, this is a fabulous post. I can’t wait to read more like this from you. Thank you for sharing your insights!

Zoe
zoescorneroftheinternet.wordpress.com

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Danielle Green

I feel like it’s a personal, industry, and maybe just global tipping point. Everyone can feel the pressures these days (from homeless to millionaire, “society” is something we want to fit in to, something we want be able to emulate). It’s hard to not be influenced these days, especially with the world so close to our fingertips. Those overalls I hated a couple years ago, I do love now (loved that comparison!) And I find myself thinking more times than not “is this my opinion or am I being influenced by everything I’m seeing?” Personally, I think this whole post was very reassuring to read, just as a human being! We need the real to balance out what society shows us.

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Aislinn Santoyo

WHAT A WONDERFUL EYE OPENING POST! I am sending this to all my friends because its a most read! Let me tell you that you are one of the few bloggers that is willing to be raw on this subject which can’t be easy but I am so glad you did. I think you need to create content that you are proud of and speak your mind on what moves you 100%. Take for example Momma’sGoneCity she used to post the “perfect life” instagrams and as of the last two years and 5 kiddos she has gained the confidence to speak on what moved her: human rights. She lost a lot of followers but she lives her life authentically! Please don’t think im saying you do not, I just think that if you remain true to yourself the people that will continue to follow you will do so because they relate and love it. I relate a lot when you speak about pressure, because I am one to give up a lot of who I am or what I want in order to give in to the pressures of who my family and the world want me to be, and it is a daily struggle to prioritize and keep my needs and wants in focus, reading your blog always helps. Anyway, thank you for sharing this post it has made my day, I am now going to go through my instagram to really filter what I want to see.

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Ann

I thoroughly read what you said and I know it’s tough being on a public platform. I’m writing you to let you know that there are plenty of jobs where your life is on a public platform and those people to face comments etc etc. However, over the years I have used your blog to shop primarily for clothes and knowledge of what’s out there in the market be it restaurants, places to visit, a good curling iron and I appreciate that. The market is flooded with a lot of stuff and you can’t afford to buy everything to see if it will work. Having someone who can sort through all of that stuff is extremely helpful. Maybe change the blog industry by drawing the line between private and public. Become that stylist that doesn’t require you to be in every photo. Got to be exhausting. Flood your blog with content and leave out the opportunity for personal comments. Kinda like Martha Stewart. She is so busy making sure your mind is focused on the product that her personal life is not in there. I wish you the best of luck. You could set a new industry standard.

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Libby

Thank you so much for sharing, Carly! I recently (on a whim) started a blog because I started a VERY intense master’s of biomedical science program, and felt I needed an outlet. My intentions are probably the same as your starting intentions: to have a space for me to escape, and talk about my other passion in life besides science and medicine. I commend you on your journey, and you are such an inspiration! Don’t ever give up, and keep doing what you love!

xo,

Libby

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Sarah

Thank you for this insightful post. It’s crazy how this trend has even saturated the posts of ordinary, non-professional accounts. I’m guilty of judging posts that don’t look perfectly edited or if a camera angle is a little off– but more recently I’m finding the “authenticity” of imperfection more attractive.

Though, I’ve never hated a well-placed Valencia filter. It holds a special place in my heart.

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Haley

Carly,

I LOVE THIS! Fantastic job at being confident enough to post this and really put into perspective the difficult role social media professional play in the current climate. I myself and a blogger, but mine continues to stay a hobby/personal journal of my travels. I do influencing here and there, but fortunately I tend to stay in my own small bubble and escape from the stress of having to be perfect. I applaud you for all that you do and the fact you keep your head above water during times like this! It’s always such a pleasure to meet you at DC events and I’m so happy after having read this post.

XOXO,
Haley

http://www.workaholicwanderlustingwoman.com

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Amy E. Gillen

I don’t blog, but I enjoy reading them. As a reader, I see the reality that bloggers/instagramers, etc… seem to always have to put out new content just to keep up with the others. I’ve noticed more and more that you guys feel “almost required” to post Instagram stories about what your’re doing each day, including the weekends, in order to constantly engage your followers. This didn’t used to be the case a couple of years ago. Gosh, your job is really time consuming and this must be exhausting! I enjoy following along, but I can’t imagine the pressure you and your colleagues are under on a daily basis. There’s definitely too much of an emphasis on being perfect and showing almost fantasy-like lifestyles which are just not reality. The competition to get and keep followers, and get brands to work with you because it’s your job, has got to be so intense. For those bloggers who are constantly buying and accumulating stuff, it’s just not relatable for most people. I feel for you. You started this to be creative and it’s evolved into something so much more – which is so great in so many ways and you’ve helped so many people along the way (don’t lose sight of that), but at the same time, I can see where it might get to be too much at times! I hope you can find your way. Remember, people are drawn to you because of who you are. It’s not all about the perfect clothes and perfect photos. Continue to be authentic and you’ll shine through.

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Kayleigh Rose Kavanagh

Love this post but side note, I remember copying your outfits to a T when I was in my undergrad. I just lol’d at those pics because I still have some of the clothes! I swear I was known as the vest girl because of your style influence on me! Forever grateful for keeping me from wearing sweatpants to all my undergrad classes!

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Kristen from Pugs & Pearls

I know I’m not the only one who really enjoyed reading this post! It’s such an interesting topic and so relevant. Blogging has definitely changed. Social media is so oversaturated and consumers are over it! It’s the main reason I just blog and do not have an Instagram account for my blog. Which is really hard to do if you want to make it a business. As a longtime reader of your blog and many others, I just crave those simpler times of mirror selfies! I look forward to watching as you go against the grain and find your passion again!

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Denise

Ouf! I thought you were closing your blog etc. Because of bad comments from people who are envious and jealous. I’m happy that you will continue. Take care. Don’t worry too much. Life must be lived with calm and joy (most of the time). Hugs and kisses from Quebec, Canada.

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Amanda

So interesting to read your perspective. As a “consumer” I feel complicit in a system that I don’t believe is healthy for most of the creators. I can’t put my finger on it but I know for a fact I could never do it. It would take so much intentionality to protect my heart. I see your intention in that and I hope you can maintain a peaceful presence in all of it. I come back to your blog because of your authenticity. I feel like you are trustworthy. At the end of the day, I consume because I appreciate the ideas and the suggestions! But only when they feel genuine.

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Hilary

Long time follower, rare (ever?) commenter, but i. loved. this. post. I am only a consumer but have thought, while scrolling thru Instagram the last few months, ‘where are the raw, unedited photos that used to be posted in real-time?!’. To be honest, i’ve quit following MANY bloggers for that very reason. I’ve always appreciated your not-so-perfect approach (whether intentional or not) to blogging. I love to see the snapshots, I love to see REAL life. And I also get that you have the right NOT to share that either. I’m excited to see where you go from here. You’re one of my favorites, and have been since the beginning! Keep doing you, girl!

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Carrie Anderson

Hello Carly,
I certainly hope you never go silent! I very much enjoy your perspective, honesty, grace, and creativity. I enjoy your lovely photos but I also enjoy knowing that you also combat frizzy hair just like me, lol. From all the bloggers I follow, I think they’re ‘How to Tutorials’ for beauty and photo editing etc always shed light on how much work they spend on their blog. It taught me early on that it’s an art form and no art is perfect, just like no person is.
I wish you luck in this next “phase” of blogging! I’m excited to see what it means for you 🙂
Best,
Carrie

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Lily

I agree with your post 100%. Being ‘on’ all the time with social apps and being so open with your like (like blogging, or just as a person in a small community), it is so draining and we develop unhealthy habits. I can see it now, flip phones come back in style!

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Lee

Great post! One thing I wish (and this is not just from you) is that more bloggers, particularly those in the NY area, had acknowledged that today is 9/11. Maybe you could post something about it later this week. Just a thought.

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Denise

I am mostly a consumer. I have a small blog, but after a pretty difficult divorce last year, I stopped blogging because it was too personal. However, I never stopped writing, and I’m itching to get back to the blog. Not because I want everything to be sunshine and roses on there, but it was just way too personal, with an unstable ex and my kids involved. I am thrilled that there is a shift and people are posting their authentic selves and not a curated life. Here’s to being real!

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Callie

YES. YES. YES! Honestly, some of my favorite bloggers have become my least favorite because they’re content has become too polished, too perfect, and lacks the intimacy or normalness of the old blogging days. You’ve always been one of my favorite bloggers, and I’m happy to hear you know something has to change. What makes blogging powerful is the ability to connect and as it becomes so commercialized, it becomes so much less personal, thus defeating the purpose of the thing. I like blogs about life, even when it’s hard, so I can say “yes! I go through that too!” Lately, blogging feels like I’m just comparing how mundane and boring my life is compared to the bloggers I follow. While the content is meant to inspire, I think it ends up having an opposite effect, where readers are thinking “I don’t have that” instead of “I want to have to!” Not sure if that makes sense, but I think we need to acknowledge that there is a fine line between inspiration and perfection. It’s inspiring to see flaws and happiness and triumphs. I, personally, don’t find it as inspiring to see 1000 Gucci belts, super expensive handbags, and trips around the world that are so perfectly photographed its hard to know how many shots they actually took in comparison to the number posted. To be fair, I think that’s why new bloggers have a hard time getting their voice out there. They don’t have the funds and resources to compete (and don’t even get me started on Instagram algorithms and the like). Finally, this post read the “original” Carly and is one of the best posts you’ve written. I love hearing what you really think and I hope you continue to share more!

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Hunter Thiers

This post speaks to me so much. Years ago, I wrote the blog Prep on a Budget and, although the scale of success I experience was much smaller than others in the community, it still took its toll. I got into freshman year of college and everything came toppling down. I wanted to post about different topics and people just weren’t responding positively. On top of not taking care of myself for most of high school, having that experience with my blog just sent into a downward spiral; however, I started going to therapy, spending time on myself, and I got myself back together again. That’s when I decided I would try blogging again, on a new platform, where I could reclaim my space. I have always loved reading your blog and I will always support what you do 🙂

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Allie N

Carly, thank you for sharing your insights and opinion! Your blog has been a highlight in my day for over six years, and I really appreciate all the work you’ve put into it over the last ten years. Thank you for your honest thoughts about your experience and the industry as a whole.

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Elizabeth Buchholz

OMG YES! I literally deleted my blog and re-started a million times in the last 3 years for this exact same reason! Sometimes we get so caught up we just need to put on some blinders and focus on ourselves and our own personal health. This post was exactly what I needed today. Thank you!

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Eva

Well said. It’s nice to have your perspective on this because as a generally new blogger, I’ve been trying to find my own path. I like blogging as a creative outlet, expressing myself through short stories, or essays, and photos. And that’s ultimately where I’d like to keep it. I’m torn because everyone seems to be doing the perfect, curated life thing, and it seems to be working out nicely (and is more business appropriate), where I feel myself coming through this blogging experience as more of a writer and creative artist. I don’t really want to share my life or my outfits, I want to share expression, worries and thoughts through the things I’m writing or photographing. I do hope you’re right, and the industry is on a bounce back from the superficial, artificial pressure cooker it’s been in. It’s nice to see people doing well, but it’s also a level of consumerism and “me-me-me” attitude that’s repellant.

Social media leaves me profoundly unhappy, even though I have so many things to be ecstatic about. It’s like the whole system goes into comparison overload and you compile each person into one mega-successful being. I am truly blessed in life, so it’s a terrible shock to feel sad about things you can’t even put your thumb on. I’m not sure what that means or where we go from here, but I know it’s all breaking apart. These things don’t bring true happiness. Hopefully, we all work through it to find the things that do. Thanks for sharing your input, it has such value <3

Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

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Camilla

Thank you for being so candid and frank. While I initially started following your blog because I loved your outfits and style , I appreciate these more personal and insightful posts about the world and how we use and interact on social media. It’s an incredibly pertinent topic.

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Erin

Thank you for being you & for sharing your true feelings. I appreciate your realness in a increasingly staged world! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Georgia

Carly, I just love how open and honest you are with your readers about what you’re thinking and feeling. As a new blogger myself, it is so great to hear about your insight and your experiences as a successful full-time blogger. I think it’s so important to recognize that no one’s life is perfect, no matter how their social media accounts may make it seem. We all have imperfections, doubts, and struggles, and as avid social media users, it’s essential that we remind ourselves of that. I try to regularly look at my own life and remind myself of all the people and things that I’m grateful for. This kind of forces me to put things back into perspective and acknowledge how lucky I am. Thanks for sharing!

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Celine

Would it be possible to, mentally, boil down your audience into one reader or a few categories of readers to reduce the noise? As solely a consumer (and acknowledging that I obviously don’t know how all of this feels firsthand), it seems like a simple solution of making the content you want/enjoy and gaining validation from your own authenticity rather than the audience response. That’s how it started, after all, the content and creativity always came first in this chicken-and-egg situation, not the audience or opinions. As a consumer, what I want from the space is solely inspiration. Fashion, workouts, hobbies, thoughts – things you enjoy that can spark interest in me or remind me of something cool to wear/try/think about. That’s it. I may be in the minority, but I have never felt pressure from ‘professional’ or ‘perfect’ accounts because part of being a mature consumer is recognizing that everyone’s lives are different and fun and beautiful at different times and in their own ways. And not that it should affect your decisions at all, but I love your blog just the way it is, and I’m sure I will love any changes you make as well. 🙂

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Jesssica

I took Twitter and FB off my phone last month and it’s been a huge improvement for my life — I think spending all our time with our heads in our phones is bad for everyone; creators (which I am) and consumers (which we all are) alike.

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Kristyn

This is such a well-written and articulate post on a very complicated and convoluted issue. From a “consumer” perspective, I like both — the super styled, beautiful, aspirational content (think Julia of Gal Meets Glam on an incredible, only-in-my-dreams vacation in Italy) and the behind-the-scenes, “real life is hard” kind of content (like Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere talking about her anxiety on her blog or crying after a proud parenting moment on Insta stories). I don’t envy the creators who have to figure out that delicate balance while also maintaining some level of sanity and privacy. I love your blog and your authenticity and think you do a great job of keeping it real.

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jill

Carly,
I am a daily reader but have never commented. I just want to say yre doing awesome! I am around the same as you (27) and it is so hard to think about how much our lives revolve social media now. It’s all about the perfect Instagram grid or witty comment. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and be yourself. Be goofy, be fun, be you!
Thank you so much for sharing your life with us,
Jill

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Angela

I can understand the shift from feeling like the blog is a fun creative outlet to an overwhelming job about which you don’t feel passionate. As a teacher, I struggle to teach a 21st century course within the constraints of school system that has changed little in the last 100+ years. I am forced to put myself out there with students and really expose my best work as a teacher, because students, like internet “haters” know NO boundaries. My best piece of advice to continue feeling passionate about this awesome and aspirational job you have (being a teacher is way less fun and amazing since I’m poor lol), is that you should take chances– do what you love, try new things, make your content more engaging through new series or post topics, etc– and you’ll rebuild that passion. I’ve done that in my classroom and it has paid off immensely. I’m excited to do my job and, yeah, some things crash and burn, but others don’t. And those moments are way more impactful than when you “play it safe.”

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A

I think your social media content reflects your audience. What I mean by that is, if you start creating content curated for what your audience expects, then those are the people who will stay and further drive what and how you present to the world. From my personal experience, I don’t like perfectly crafted instagram lives, or YouTube Chanel hauls. I find that I can’t relate to that, and as a result I have stopped following people whose lives became too curated. I prefer people who show what everyday looks life in sweats, with kids screaming in the background, etc. This is why I appreciate your real emotions and thoughts that you share in real time, because I find that sometimes even influencers who speak up about the hard parts of life, be it parenting, jobs, or battling mental health issues, they do it in a perfect way; they find a way to take the ugly out.

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Cassia

Carly, you’re so candid sometimes its amazing! Of course I follow your blog to see the clothes and ideas and travel, but what I really love is your honesty. Thanks for sharing your life with us out here!

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Cassia

Carly, your candidness always strikes a cord with me! Of course I read your blog for the style, the ideas and the travel, but what I really love is your honesty. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

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Jen

Oh dear Carly!

I believe everything has to do with the fact that everyone wants a perfect dreamy life, which means travel, money, no problems and be happy. But everyone gets lost when money gets involved and things evolved to the term business. That is why many people, including me, follow influencers because they are inspiring, they are an outlet for real life and all of them seem to have what everyone wishes for. Unfortunately we as people forget that you are humans with emotions, needs and problems. And companies think of you as busine$$

I wish things in social media and digital marketing would’ve evolve in a better way, but now seems that the reality and fun with which all started is getting fake with payed and controlled posts, and there is where people is starting to get lost and see everything as a boring social media world.

With algorithms and the way real world is converted to numbers makes everything worse because we don’t get what you want to post, we get what the media and companies want you to do.

The funny part here, is that everyone and everything, has to do with the fact of being adults which is not fun. We all try to survive by doing the thing that will bring us money to pay the bills, and eventually we forget about happiness because we’re pleasing others and doing what they want in order to get the numbers. This is so frustrating because we are getting lost by working under so much pressure that we get sick, we get anxiety and forget about our own dreams, because we are always worried about doing it right in order to please others.

So yes we are on the same boat, and no I don’t have a blog. But I am someone who share the anxiety,fear and frustration of getting overwhelmed and judged on my daily life because of what I do and what I am supposed to do. I am married with a major in Marketing, with an MBA and I am working as a sales associate. I left my stressful previous job, where I wasn’t recognized, wasn’t payed well, I got anxious every day and felt horrible. So I decided to go in a different path for a healthy life, an now I am working at a store as a sales associate, which should make me feel better but no, I am living with constant fear and anxiety of doing the most to pay the bills and to do the right thing.

And here we are all in the same boat of life…

I wish things were better and that life had a sparkle for everyone in order to live better.

We love you and the more natural you are, the more identified we will feel with you.

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Marcie

I hope we are circling back around to “real.” I scroll so quickly through 90% of the blogs I look at including some of my longtime favs. (Obviously this post caught my eye and I read it – I’ve been reading since the early years. Because my daughter was in a sorority in college when I found you. That’s long past but I still read because I came to like you from what I read) I feel like so many blogs are non-stop ads for decor and consumer items that A. I can’t afford or don’t think is an important way to spend $ or B. that make every home/blog look exactly the same. I want unique, do-able, creative not homogeneous. I don’t feel like many of my faves are sharing their real lives anymore but are creating a life around sponsorships. Maybe it’s sour grapes because I’ve blogged and not made a dime but I started reading blogs for a different reason than consumerism. And the last thing is not aimed at bloggers but audiences. I cannot for the life of me figure out why people think it is OK to be rude via the internet. If you don’t like a bloggers content, look, voice, etc then move on – there are a zillion blogs out there. C’mon people – be nice. I hope that you can continue to do this if you still love it. A lot of people have gotten a lot from your blog – your voice. Be true!!

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Lila

As a blogger I’ve decided to not be “the face” of my blog. I’ve launched my blog with that mindset, you can’t even find a photo of myself on the blog. I want the freedom to walk away from it in the future if I want to (sell it). It’s a lot easier for me because I don’t have a lifestyle or fashion blog.

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Nessa

“At some point, the lines between professionalism and perfection blurred.”-hear hear.
GREAT post! Way to be brave and say what so many are thinking of.

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Elizabeth

I think you are correct that a desire for change/getting back to the “roots” of blogging has come. Purely from a consumer standpoint, following blogs/instas used to be fun because it felt more personal. “Oh this girl is built like me/has a similar atyle to mine” it kind of felt like a sort of friendship. The big change came when almost overnight EVERYONE became a “full time” blogger. Now that they are relying on it for income, we as consumers all have the same Nordstrom sweaters, Gucci belts, posts filled with typos, and (ICE CREAM?!…looking at you, Yasso) thrust in our faces from every angle. The authenticity is gone.

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Lauren

I absolutely LOVE this post! It’s amazing to hear from “the other side of the screen.” As a pure consumer who is OBSESSED with blog reading, it’s definitely trickled into my own life in the form of wanting my life to look like Instagram or blogs. It’s a source of anxiety on the consumer end as well because everything I see on social media says my wardrobe, skin, house, etc should look a certain way and it FOR SURE DOESNT. I’ve had to slowly withdraw from a lot of my blog reading and only focus on a few (yours because its my original blog love 🙂 ) because I just feel like I can’t keep up….even though the only difference is our chosen career paths. It’s a very delicate balance between influencers and consumers and the feelings we both share. I truly believe both sides feel very similar but one would never know it just by looking at a few photos. Please don’t stop blogging for as long as you can! I just love reading every day!

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Bree

I started reading your blog about 6 years ago when I was in college. Even though we don’t share the same style, I’ve always appreciated your authenticity and aesthetic (you look gorgeous in everything)- not to mention lifestyle posts, book recommendations etc. It’s been difficult for me to appreciate bloggers/ Instagram in the same way I used to with all the sponsored posts that pop up now, and the general changes you’ve highlighted above. Thank you for continuing to embrace what you love and support throughout these changes, and for having the courage to reflect on your challenges.

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Erin

Carly! Yet again you make a *real* post about life as a blogger/Instagrammer/influencer, and I love it. I’ve been following your space since you were about to graduate college (I was just finishing my second year), and yours is the one blog I’ve followed most consistently since then. I feel like you’ve kept it real the whole time, which is why I’ve consistently been interested in following you! From an outsider’s perspective, it does seem like a dog-eat-dog industry sometimes… I hope you keep doing what you do, and sharing your thoughts like this every so often.

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Alex

I love this! As a someone who has kind of grown up with your blog (I’ve been reading for the last 6-7 years) one thing that always keeps me reading is how genuine you are. I love that you are unapologetically you and that you don’t try and portray your lifestyle as some fantasy. It’s real. And that’s so cool. I hope you keep doing what you’re doing because I think you’re a diamond in a world of blogging sapphires. People keep on supporting you (or even hating on you) because you’re an interesting person with really nice writing skills and just a cool outlook on life. Rock on my dude!

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Jenn

Thank you for sharing these vulnerable thoughts! The content you create and share is meaningful – you are intelligent, funny, bold, and relatable. Thank you for being strong and continuing to be a steady voice in an ever-changing world of social media/influencers/fashion. I’m here for it!!!!!!!

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Rachel

I started following you on Instagram because I loved the style tips I saw while browsing through Pinterest. THEN I found your blog, and your blog became the first blog I ever consistently read. I like your blog because you post “real life stuff” that I can relate to. Honestly posts like this keep me reading your blog and I hope this site is still an outlet for you. If it becomes too much — take a step back. Your health is the first priority, and life is too short to spend anxious with your career for long periods of time. Keep the truly important things in life in check. 🙂

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Carly

YES CARLY. I don’t feel like writing an absolute NOVEL in this comment section, because I could go on for days. But know that I so appreciate this post and I am so proud of you for acknowledging the insanity of it all. My blog, for example, hasn’t had a new post in a year because the pressure to be “great” was too much. I feel inspired today to write again. I’m so excited to see where blogging (and your blog) goes in the future! Xoxo @carlzbarkley

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Charlee Beth

Hi Carly,
I loved reading this post. I’ve been curious for some time now about how this industry takes a toll on people and I am sorry to hear how much it does effect you. I would like to thank you for powering through all of this and continuing to post. I’ve been reading your posts for about 5 years now and as I enter my Senior year of college I find myself coming to your blog more often and finding posts that speak to where I’m at and what I’m doing. Thank you for making that blogspot account and thank you for sticking with it. You inspire me daily. Thank you for being you.
Love, Charlee Beth

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Marbella

This post is so fresh and one of the reasons I still follow you. You are one of the few that comes off as genuine in the posts you make. This summer I decided to unfollow so many bloggers. The lives they are trying to sell is extremely unrealistic for most women. From the dream houses they are buying (and renovating) to the luxurious trips to Italy (every blogger seemed to go there this summer, ugh) it all rings false. I, like many, started following individuals for everyday clothing inspiration (so many now dress like runway models) great places to eat (in U.S. cities) to interesting book reccomendations. Nowadays they are selling a fantasy and not real life. No thanks!

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Allie @ Peachfully Chic

Loved your article. Thank you so much for being candid and sharing all the inside knowledge on your blog! I’ve been blogging for four years now (not on the same level as you) while holding down a full-time professional job. I share a lot on my blog but realize I just can’t post as regularly as bloggers/influencers/YouTubers who do this as their full-time jobs. It’s easy to feel like things are too saturated and that I’m not “keeping up”. I just remind myself that it’s my passion – not a competition – and each of us takes our own path.
Although you may feel like you’re at it alone, there’s always someone else who is going through the same thing you are! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


xo,
Allie
http://www.peachfullychic.com

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Vulnavia Johnson

As someone who has been reading your blog since 2011 (when I started blogging), the whole community has changed. Many bloggers who have become super popular on Instagram have all become the same person ( same hair, make-up, way they take their pictures). For me, my blog never grew that way that others who started when I did or after me. Then again, I am finishing my Masters degree, work 40 + hours a week, and have other commitments. I think that so many people are caught up with trying to keep up a fake image that they created, that it drives readers away. I can honestly say that I never really changed the topics that I write about or what my interest are. People are afraid to show who they are or share their real opinions about situations for fear of being judge. It is sad that people (I know I saw a few You Tubers do this recently) are walking away from something they once enjoyed due to the pressure to always be perfect and “on”. All of us have to learn how to be okay with living our lives for ourselves not for social media.

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Jess M

I feel the same way! I absolutely love your comment about The Little Mermaid- gaining your legs but losing your voice. I am not on the creator side of things and from where I stand social media has become so exhausting. I recently deleted my Facebook account and deleted Instagram from my phone because it listens even though I have denied access to my mic. I’m excited for whatever changes are coming and I hope it takes us back to a more authentic and organic state of mind.

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Bryn Bradsher

I am so glad you chose to publish this post, Carly! I have been feeling this myself on a small scale and I feel better knowing I’m not alone. Social media can be a wonderful way to connect and meet people, but it also does bring some negatives with it. People compare their lives to someone else who seems perfect and that is hard to live up to. I think we are all craving authenticity now, which is why I appreciate this post. Thank you for sharing it! xo Bryn http://www.waketonroad.com

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Ana Cabreira

I stopped following a bunch of blogs because they were all so similar.
So many bloggers hiding what they feel or really think because they are afraid of the comments.
I stopped following all the family blogs that didn’t say anything about the kids separated at the border. There was huge crisis and they were talking about clothes or their favorite ice cream flavor. I understand people want a place for inspiration but I am currently wanting “real”.

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